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F1: Ferrari Quells Driver Rumours, McLaren Concedes 2013 Win Unlikely Photo:
 
 
TMR Team | Aug, 22 2013 | 2 Comments

Ferrari has moved to ease the speculation about its 2014 driver lineup.

With the Italian team's number 1 driver Fernando Alonso linked with a sensational switch to Red Bull, the future of teammate Felipe Massa is also uncertain beyond his expiring contract.

And now linked with a return to Maranello is the team's 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, after the Finn's manager Steve Robertson said talks with Red Bull had ended.

The Raikkonen-to-Ferrari story got a boost in recent days by Eddie Jordan, a former F1 team boss turned broadcaster, who has in recent times earned a reputation for often correctly predicting driver moves.

Some of Jordan's media centre colleagues, however, are not so sure.

In the wake of Robertson ruling out Red Bull for Raikkonen, Lotus boss Eric Boullier hit the headlines this week when he said the 33-year-old will only stay at the Enstone based team in 2014 at the right price.

Livio Oricchio, writing in O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, said he interprets that news as Boullier revealing "he knows he has the advantage now" in the negotiations with Raikkonen.

Indeed, with the Red Bull door now closed, Robertson went to great lengths to insist Raikkonen still has "plural" options when it comes to 2014.

"The game has turned in Lotus' favour," said the Brazilian correspondent Oricchio.

That is because many in the paddock doubt Ferrari is really considering pairing its clear number 1 Alonso against a truly top driver like Raikkonen.

Raul Romojaro, writing in the Spanish sports daily AS, recalled that in 2007, McLaren's explosive Alonso-Lewis Hamilton pairing ultimately cost the British team the title.

"The only positive of the disaster was that the lesson was learned about how harmful conflicting interests in sports can be," he said.

"I would even say that putting Kimi with Fernando would be a time-bomb with difficult and unpredictable consequences."

Another aspect that speaks against Raikkonen's return is that reports in recent days have suggested Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is not convinced.

"It would be an admission by him (Montezemolo) that sending Kimi away at the end of 2009 was a huge mistake," noted Rafael Lopes, writing for Brazil's Globo Esporte.

So, given the speculation, it is no surprise Stefano Domenicali is playing it all down.

"We have spelt it out many times before," said Ferrari's team boss ahead of this weekend's Belgian grand prix, the first race after the August break.

"The driver topic is definitely not a priority," Domenicali insisted.

"There is much talk outside the company regarding the future, but we must concentrate only on the present, on the fight for the championship," he added.

Domenicali also backed Montezemolo's recent comments, which were interpreted by many as a harsh rebuke of Alonso just as the Red Bull rumours were gaining steam.

"The words of our president before the summer break must serve as a stimulus, because they were meant as the words of a good family father, who, first and foremost, really roots for our team," he said.

(GMM)

 

McLaren admits race win unlikely in 2013

McLaren has conceded it will probably chalk up a rare and unwanted statistic in 2013.

Not often does the great British team go an entire season without winning a single race, but managing director Jonathan Neale thinks that is likely this year.

Jenson Button won commandingly from pole in Belgium a year ago, but the 2009 world champion admitted this week that he is not returning to Spa "with the package to win".

And Neale told reporters during a Vodafone teleconference on Wednesday that the MP4-28 will probably go to the other eight races this year with the same slim chances.

Asked if the 2013 car will win a race this season, he said: "I think that will be a real challenge if I'm honest."

Neale said development of the MP4-28 has stopped, unless something is found that could also benefit the 2014 programme.

"There's four months to the end of the year and a lot of work to be done to get ready for next year," he added.

"So I think, inevitably, there will start to be an increasing focus on 2014."

(GMM)

 

Teams braced for tyre supplier switch 'curveball'

Formula one teams are braced for the "curveball" of an all-new tyre supplier for 2014.

That was the admission on Wednesday of McLaren's managing director Jonathan Neale, even though he said the British team is "assuming" Pirelli will get an eleventh-hour extension to its contract.

But he admitted that assumption actually has little "foundation".

"If we were to get a late change from somebody else coming into the sport at short notice," Neale told a Vodafone teleconference, "of course we would work around that and work with whoever the FIA chose that to be."

It has been rumoured that, should the Jean Todt-led FIA launch a surprise tender process for 2014, Michelin might enter the race to return to the grid.

Neale admitted that, with the 2014 cars being designed around the basic data of the Pirelli tyre, a last-minute change of supplier would be a spanner in the works.

"But it would be the same for everybody," he added. "So if somebody throws in a curveball at the last minute we'll all have to recover but there'll be some winners and losers in that."

Meanwhile, Neale applauded Pirelli's reaction to the tyre-exploding crisis of the British grand prix, but said there is some concern about this weekend's high-speed circuit at Spa-Francorchamps.

Pirelli is supplying the hardest tyres in its range to teams in Belgium.

"I think for this weekend all the teams will be reasonably alert that we are high load at Spa," said Neale.

"Pirelli are being rightly cautious about making sure that the teams operate within certain restrictive windows on tyre pressures and cambers etc and we're supportive of that process," he added.

(GMM)

 
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