F1: Hamilton Back In The Chase, Red Bull Embraces Alonso Rumour Photo:
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TMR Team | Jul, 30 2013 | 0 Comments

Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton went into Sunday's Hungarian grand prix having written off his title chances and insisting victory would require a "miracle".

When the chequered flag dropped, the 'miracle' had been in the form of a dominant display, leaving Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda to deny the team had spent the weekend bluffing.

Briton Hamilton also insisted: "I'm baffled. Honestly, we really didn't expect this. We bolted the tyres on and they worked for us."

He had said just before the race at the Hungaroring that if Mercedes had struggled with tyres in milder temperatures, then hot Budapest would leave the W04 nowhere.

So, Lauda is now sounding hopeful Hamilton, 48 points behind, can track down Sebastian Vettel's championship lead.

"Vettel is the absolute favourite," he told German broadcaster RTL, "without question. But I can tell you that Spa and then Monza will suit us."

Indeed, with some teams now starting to switch off developments of the 2013 cars, team boss Ross Brawn told Auto Motor und Sort there will be upgrades at both of those forthcoming high-speed circuits.

"After that we will decide on our priorities for the rest of the season," he added.

For the moment, then, Hamilton is "very much" in the title fight, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner insists.

Hamilton agreed: "You never know what the tyres are going to do elsewhere, but if we came here and made our tyres last then we should be able to do it anywhere.

"I hope this is not the last time the tyres work for me."

2008 world champion Hamilton also admitted to feeling melancholy throughout the Hungaroring weekend, and devoted the win to his former girlfriend Nicole.

"It's been the toughest couple of months of my life," the emotional former McLaren driver, his voice trembling, told British television Sky.

Lauda joked to Bild newspaper: "As long as he drives as he did in Hungary, long may his heartache live!"



Red Bull runs with Alonso rumour

Red Bull is running with the rumour, after Fernando Alonso's manager was spotted in talks with Christian Horner in Hungary.

The suggestion Ferrari's number 1 is about to sensationally switch to Red Bull to replace Mark Webber could have been easily denied, as Alonso's manager Luis Garcia Abad also looks after the career of youngster Carlos Sainz jr.

Instead, Horner said: "There are statements about Kimi and statements about Fernando but we have to make sure nothing clouds our judgment about next year."

Actually, most informed experts, insiders and pundits suspect Horner is either using the opportunity to destabilise championship rival Ferrari, or that Alonso planted the story to heap pressure on Ferrari.

Indeed, the Spaniard's rhetoric stepped up a notch on Sunday, after he lost further ground to runaway points leader Vettel in the Hungarian heat.

"We are trying to close the gap," Alonso told Spanish reporters after the race, "but the superiority of the Red Bull is overwhelming.

"And not just Red Bull, also Mercedes, Lotus ...

"If the team can make some good new parts in the summer and we win four or five races in a row, we can still win the title," added Alonso.

On Italian television Sky, he sounded even more critical.

"It is four years we have had a slower car, between half and one second behind the leader, and we have fought to the end for the world championship still.

"I do not think it will be different this year. We will fight until the end."

Alonso was less forthcoming when it came to the Red Bull rumours. "Nothing to say," he insisted.

Asked if he was however contemplating his long Ferrari contract, he added: "It sounds like the same question put another way. Therefore I will not respond."

He denied knowing his manager had met with Horner, and then pointed the finger at F1's intrigued journalists.

"It's nearly August, so four weeks without formula one is a very dangerous period for you guys (reporters)," said Alonso.

"I hope you have a calm summer."

Alonso's management team, meanwhile, indicated the thought of the two-time world champion becoming Vettel's new teammate is ridiculous.

"Yes," an insider told Marca newspaper, "but only if Vettel is in the second car."

Another insider, this one close to Ferrari, told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport the whole story sounds like "a cheap diversion to destabilise".

Horner, meanwhile, ruled out 'swapping' Vettel for Alonso, while F1's reigning triple world champion also indicated he would fight to keep the Spaniard out of the team.

"I am sure that Fernando is a nice guy and I respect him as a driver," said Vettel. "I would rather have Kimi."



Ecclestone admits India facing F1 axe

Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed reports a question mark hangs above India's grand prix.

We reported on Friday that, with teams keen to limit the calendar to 20 races, F1's chief executive had identified India and Korea as the most likely to go.

"I think there is a consensus about doing 20 races," Mercedes' Toto Wolff said in Hungary, following meetings with his fellow F1 chiefs.

"Anything more and you need to ramp up the organisation. So let's stick to 20."

The main problem in India is a tax issue, with the government insisting teams and drivers should be taxed at a full rate on their high incomes.

"Is India going to happen next year? Probably not," Ecclestone admitted, according to Reuters news agency.

He confirmed the problem is "political".

The Indian broadcaster NDTV quoted a spokesman for Indian race promoter Jaypee as saying its contract with F1 is until 2015, and that it wants to continue to host the race.



Force India also owes Hulkenberg money - report

According to Blick newspaper, Sauber is not the only formula one team that owes Nico Hulkenberg money.

Veteran correspondent Roger Benoit told the German he has heard that Force India, his 2012 employer, also failed to pay him his full dues last year.

Hulkenberg smiled as he replied: "Is that even a question?

"As far as numbers or salaries go, I cannot say anything. There are contracts."

Benoit added that Hulkenberg then "laughed and said nothing" when it was suggested he might be able to live comfortably on the money owed to the highly-rated driver.

Another rumour is that the 25-year-old is already a free agent, having terminated his Sauber contract due to the payment breach.

"The response is the same as before," Hulkenberg insisted, but he did not deny there might be talks with Ferrari and Lotus about 2014.

The fact he was not paid by Force India, however, would explain his decision to switch to Sauber over the winter -- a move derided by many as a 'sideways' step at best.

And in light of Sauber's uncompetitive 2013 car, and its subsequent struggle for mere financial survival, Hulkenberg would be forgiven for regretting the move altogether.

"So far we have certainly not delivered what was hoped for," the driver admitted. "But sometimes that's what life is like."

Asked if he feels the pangs of regret when he considers Force India's superior speed, Hulkenberg insisted: "No. I stand by my decisions."



Ferrari confirms Allison starting in September

Ferrari on Monday confirmed reports James Allison is joining the famous Italian team.

We reported on Saturday that the Maranello based team is buying out the remainder of former technical director and Briton Allison's Lotus contract.

"It is believed Allison could get to work (at Ferrari) in the early autumn", working alongside Pat Fry and Nicolas Tombazis, the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat had claimed.

Indeed, in a media statement on Monday, Ferrari said Allison will start work as chassis technical director on 1 September.

It means Pat Fry is stepping sideways into a new position, director of engineering.

Both men will report directly to team boss Stefano Domenicali, who left Budapest on Sunday having to deny reports Ferrari could lose Fernando Alonso to Red Bull at the end of the year.

Asked if he is worried, the Italian insisted: "No.

"For sure, Fernando is an asset to the team. First of all we have a contract with him," he is quoted by the Daily Mail.

"We need him to work very closely with everyone because after all this is a difficult moment in the season.

"It's about teamwork. We have to deliver a job. Full stop. This is the same for everyone, not only for him," Domenicali added.


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