Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Kimi Raikkonen, Horner on Kvyat and More
Kimi Raikkonen's dismal 2014 performances have led to some suspicions that the 2007 world champion, among the most popular drivers on the grid, is losing his powers.
Raikkonen, after all, is now 34, the age that the majority of athletes begin to recognise their standards slipping, with achievements that once seemed so easy becoming increasingly difficult.
The Ferrari driver, however, has rubbished the suggestion that his poor results this season are a consequence of the passing of time.
If Raikkonen is one driver with his best days behind him, Daniil Kvyat is surely one with his best yet to come.
The Russian has impressed many with his mature approach to his debut season with Toro Rosso, with Christian Horner, the team principal of world champions Red Bull, singling Kvyat out for praise.
Romain Grosjean was the driver with the world at his feet at the end of 2013 thanks to a series of outstanding results for Lotus, but the team's drop to the back of the field has prevented the Frenchman from realising his potential in 2014.
Grosjean, however, has likened his situation to that of Jenson Button in 2008, with the British driver experiencing a horror season before claiming the world title the following year.
Whether Lotus can repeat the trick in 2015 remains to be seen, although Williams have enjoyed something of a Brawn-esque campaign this year.
The former world champions scored only five points over the whole of 2013, but already have 135 at the halfway point this season—and Felipe Massa believes the team can finish as high as second in the constructors' championship.
Closing this week's roundup is Esteban Gutierrez, who has reiterated his intention to remain with Sauber in 2015.
Kimi Raikkonen Certain That His Speed Remains Strong
Despite a difficult season, Kimi Raikkonen has insisted that he has lost none of the speed which saw him crowned world champion in 2007.
The Finnish driver, whose consistency since his return to Formula One in 2012 saw him break the record for the most consecutive points finishes last year, has struggled upon his return to Ferrari this term.
Raikkonen has been outclassed by teammate Fernando Alonso in each of the 11 rounds so far in 2014, failing to finish a race in the top five.
The 34-year-old missed the final two races of last season to undergo an operation on his back, but is adamant that he has lost none of his pace behind the wheel.
Raikkonen was quoted by Autosport's Ben Anderson as stating:
It's been a difficult year but that's life.
It's not fun when you have hard times but it's happened before and that's how it goes.
We try to make things better all the time, make fewer mistakes, and get the car where I want it to be to be fast again.
I know I haven't suddenly lost over the winter a few seconds of lap time.
Red Bull Boss Christian Horner Praises Daniil Kvyat
Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, has praised Daniil Kvyat's mature approach to his rookie season in Formula One.
The Russian's graduation from GP3 to a Toro Rosso seat was met with widespread bemusement when it was announced towards the end of last season.
Kvyat, however, has emerged as a star of the future after becoming F1's youngest-ever points scorer in his debut race before going on to enjoy a number of strong performances.
Despite trailing teammate Jean-Eric Vergne in the drivers' standings by five points, Kvyat has earned the praise of Horner, who according to Edd Straw of Autosport said:
He has been sensational and has been the rookie of the season so far.
His raw pace and speed, considering the jump he has made from GP3, is hugely impressive.
He had little pre-season testing and Jean-Eric [Vergne] is a very quick driver, so the benchmark he's up against is good as well.
Romain Grosjean Hopes Lotus Can Replicate Brawn Surge
Romain Grosjean has outlined his desire for Lotus to follow in the footsteps of the Brawn team and fight for the constructors' world championship in 2015.
Lotus have arguably been the biggest losers of the most significant season-to-season rule changes in the history of Formula One in 2014, dropping from fighting for podiums to scrapping at the rear of the field.
The Enstone-based team currently sits a lowly eighth in the constructors' standings having scored only eight points in the opening 11 races of the campaign.
Grosjean, however, believes Lotus can replicate the miracle story of Brawn GP, who rose from the ashes of Honda over the winter of 2008 to scoop both world championships in 2009, with Jenson Button crowned drivers' champion.
The Frenchman, the only Lotus driver to score points this year, was quoted by Autosport's Ben Anderson as stating:
I want to win races in the near future and we are working on that.
If you look at Jenson [Button] in 2008, he was very much struggling with Honda, then it changed to Brawn—same team, different name—and he was world champion.
Having difficult years is part of your career—you have to accept that and not get frustrated.
I'm 99.99 per cent confident the [Lotus] team is going to be better next year.
Williams' Felipe Massa Targeting Second in Constructors' Standings
Felipe Massa believes Williams can finish the 2014 campaign as best of the rest behind Mercedes, the champions-in-waiting.
Williams' resurgence from backmarkers to front-runners has been one of the stories of the season, with Massa claiming pole position at the Austrian Grand Prix and teammate Valtteri Bottas securing three podium finishes.
Despite the Grove-based team trailing Red Bull, who currently sit in second place by a margin of 84 points, Massa, who lifted the constructors' title with Ferrari in 2007 and 2008, believes the four-time champions can be caught—but only if Williams extract the most from each of the remaining eight grands prix.
The Brazilian was quoted by BBC Sport as stating:
We need to fight for that. If we do a perfect job from now until the last race, it can be possible.
It's not impossible that we will have more of a chance against Mercedes.
Spa and Monza should suit us, maybe Austin and Brazil, and in the last race in Abu Dhabi there are some good straights.
Esteban Gutierrez Wants to Remain at Sauber
Esteban Gutierrez has expressed his desire to remain with Sauber beyond the current season.
Since making his Formula One debut at the beginning of 2013, Gutierrez has struggled to make an impression, scoring points on only one occasion, at last year's Japanese Grand Prix.
Despite a best finish of just 12th in his second campaign, the 22-year-old is aiming to retain his seat for 2015, especially with the Mexican Grand Prix set to return to the calendar.
Gutierrez told Sky Sports' James Galloway:
That’s something we need to speak [about] in the next few weeks.
Obviously it’s a subject that we’ll bring up pretty soon and something that we also need to look after certain opportunities that we can get around and see what’s really the most convenient one.
Sauber are seemingly spoilt for choice as far as their 2015 driver line-up plans are concerned, with Gutierrez, current teammate Adrian Sutil, Giedo van der Garde, Sergey Sirotkin and Simona de Silvestro all linked to the team in one way or another.