Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Fernando Alonso, Massa-Bottas and More

Oliver HardenFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2014

Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Fernando Alonso, Massa-Bottas and More

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    So where will Fernando Alonso be driving next year?

    Will he stick with Ferrari for a sixth season? Or will his patience at the Prancing Horse finally run out, leading the Spaniard to accept a return to McLaren?

    Wherever he ends up, it seems Alonso's future—if it were ever in doubt—is now completely in his hands.

    As the driver market continues to heat up, two drivers who appear to be going nowhere are Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, who are set to remain as Williams teammates for the second successive season in 2015, with Rob Smedley explaining the team's desire for stability.

    Among the main talking points in the build-up to this weekend's Italian Grand Prix has been the changes made to the run-off area at Parabolica, one of the F1's great corners.

    Although the purists and romantics will rue the arrival of asphalt to replace the gravel trap, Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean, the Lotus drivers, have explained why the move will prove to be popular for drivers.

    One man who has had no problem navigating Parabolica in the past is Sergio Perez, who equaled his career-best result of second place in the 2012 Italian Grand Prix.

    And the Mexican is hoping that history will repeat itself this year.

    While one driver is hoping to return to the famous Monza podium, another is hoping to stand on those steps for the very first time.

    Daniel Ricciardo, the victor of the last two races, has explained what the Italian Grand Prix means to him.

    Here's this week's roundup. 

Fernando Alonso Ready to Wave Goodbye to Ferrari?

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    Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci told Sky Sports at the Belgian Grand Prix that both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen will remain with the team for 2015. 

    It has, however, been claimed that a contractual clause could allow the former to leave the Prancing Horse at the end of the current season.

    Andrew Maitland of Motorsport.com has quoted Michael Schmidt, Auto Motor und Sport's highly respected F1 journalist, as suggesting that "internal sources" have confirmed that Alonso's Ferrari deal would allow him to depart the team if the Spaniard is over 25 points behind the leader of the drivers' standings at the beginning of September.

    And with Alonso, the 2005 and 2006 world champion, currently sitting 99 points behind Nico Rosberg ahead of this weekend's Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari's home race, an exit route could soon become much clearer.

    Alonso has been linked with a move to McLaren for almost 12 months, since then-team principal Martin Whitmarsh confirmed his willingness to re-sign the 33-year-old to Sky Sports' Pete Gill.

    The latest development in Formula One's longest-running transfer saga came last week, with The Telegraph's Daniel Johnson claiming that Ron Dennis, McLaren's team principal, had "spoken with Alonso over a move" and would be willing to make Alonso "the best paid driver in the sport."

    That would be some turnaround after a 2007 campaign which saw Alonso leave McLaren after only one season after a catastrophic breakdown in relations with Dennis.

Williams Eager to Keep Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas for 2015

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    Williams' Head of Vehicle Performance, Rob Smedley, has admitted that the team are keen on retaining the services of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas for the 2015 Formula One season.

    Bottas, one of the stars of the current campaign, currently sits fifth in the drivers' standings having claimed four podium finishes, including a third place in last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.

    Although Massa has scored 70 points fewer than his teammate, the Brazilian was responsible for what was arguably the team's highlight of the season so far, pole position at the Austrian Grand Prix.

    And Smedley has maintained the team's desire to keep both Bottas and Massa, ensuring stability at Williams as the team continues its resurgence.

    The former Ferrari employee told Crash.net:

    I would absolutely love to see that pairing continue through next year and that's the plan, obviously. I think that it's just a great blend of youth, enthusiasm—on both sides—and experience. 

    There's very little conflict and they're both absolutely down with the fact that there's a common purpose, and that common purpose is to drag this team on the journey that it's on at the minute. It's not about what's happening today and tomorrow, but it's about what's happening in the next six months, one-year, two-year, three-year period. 

    That's the important bit and they both absolutely want to be involved with that along with us.

     

Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado Welcome Monza Changes

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    Lotus drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado believe the decision to replace the run-off area of Monza's Parabolica corner will be welcomed by Formula One drivers.

    The gravel trap on the outside of Parabolica, one of the most iconic corners in F1, has been replaced with asphalt ahead of next weekend's Italian Grand Prix.

    And the Lotus pair, who are no strangers to off-track excursions, believe the changes will be popular among their peers and will encourage drivers to attack the corner.

    Grosjean was quoted by the official Formula One website as stating:

    Parabolica is a very challenging and quick corner so from a safety point of view it is a good thing to have some more margin for the drivers.

    I think that now what you will see is the drivers finding the limits sooner, because we know there will not be the big gravel and crash penalty like previously.

    Maldonado told the same source:

    I don’t think [the decision to replace the gravel with asphalt] will make too much difference really. The approach will be the same which is to take it as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

    Of course there is the obvious safety element which means that you have less risk if you go off. I think this is good from a safety point of view because it is a quick corner with not that much room on the outside.

     

Sergio Perez Hopes to Replicate 2012 Heroics at Italian Grand Prix

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    Sergio Perez believes he stands a good chance of replicating his podium finish in the 2012 Italian Grand Prix at Monza this weekend.

    The Mexican produced an assured drive from 12th on the grid to claim second at Monza two years ago, the last of three podium finishes in the 2012 season.

    Perez, after a year-long stay at McLaren, returned to the podium with a third-place finish in April's Bahrain Grand Prix—and is expecting big things from Force India in the final European race of the season.

    On the appeal of Monza, Perez told Force India's official website:

    I think everybody enjoys going there because it’s such a beautiful location. I raced there a few times before Formula One and always had good results. I was on the podium two years ago—it was one of my best races in Formula One and a very special memory.

    I think it’s going to be a good track for us. 

Daniel Ricciardo Hopes to Soak Up Monza Atmosphere

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    When the lights go out to signal the start of this weekend's Italian Grand Prix, Daniel Ricciardo will be searching for his third consecutive Formula One win.

    And if the Australian triumphs at Monza—adding to his wins in Canada, Hungary and Belgium—he will have scored as many grand prix victories this season as Nico Rosberg, the current championship leader.

    With Renault, Red Bull's engine supplier, lacking in power compared to those of Mercedes, the team were not expecting to challenge until the Singapore Grand Prix later this month, although Ricciardo's surprise win at Spa will have provided Red Bull with extra belief ahead of the Italian race.

    And the 25-year-old, who now sits 64 points behind Rosberg in the drivers' standings, is keen to experience the unique feeling of a podium finish at Monza.

    Ricciardo, of Italian descent, was quoted by Crash.net as stating:

    There's something about flashing through those trees in front of that massive crowd that definitely gets the pulse all the way up! Also the crowd in Monza is wild. Obviously it's full-on Ferrari but in the past they've always been very generous to me. I'd love to get the opportunity to stand on that brilliant podium and find out!