The Adrian Newey era at Red Bull could be nearing its end.
It emerged last weekend that, after four consecutive championship clean-sweeps with Sebastian Vettel, the eyes of the team's famous designer may be wandering elsewhere.
"Maybe the America's Cup, who knows?" said the 54-year-old Briton, admitting a new project could be on the horizon.
Now, the Mirror newspaper reports that Sir Ben Ainslie, the famous British sailor, is travelling to Abu Dhabi this weekend and will meet with Newey.
"Someone with his (Newey's) design and technical experience would be invaluable," said Ainslie.
It is already known that Red Bull is losing its other two key figures in Newey's renowned aerodynamics department.
McLaren is waiting for Peter Prodromou's 2014 contract to expire before welcoming him to Woking, and we reported recently that his 'number 2' has also been signed by the British team.
Until now, that 'deputy' has been unnamed, but Germany's Auto Motor und Sport has now identified him as Dan Fallows.
Fallows' job title at Red Bull is aerodynamics team leader.
"McLaren obviously have lost significant technical staff over the last few years and it is only natural that they are looking to recruit," Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told F1's official website.
Webber's problems no conspiracy - Newey
Adrian Newey has dismissed suggestions Mark Webber's reliability problems are something other than just bad luck.
While Sebastian Vettel collected his four consecutive world championships, Australian Webber always seems to be the one struck by car problems.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner doesn't think Webber is simply harder on his equipment.
"I don't think so," he is quoted by Sky, after Webber's latest alternator problem in India.
It was believed Red Bull had got to the bottom of the recurring alternator issues of last year. Has the same gremlin returned?
"We don't know yet," car designer Adrian Newey told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
He did at least dismiss the conspiracy theories.
"What can I say?" Newey answered. "I can only assure you that the conspiracies are nonsense. The cars are identical.
"It must just be bad luck."
Webber is retiring from F1 at the end of the season, and Newey said the Australian's detailed technical feedback will be missed.
"Mark's contribution should not be underestimated," said the Briton.
"Interestingly, Mark feels small aerodynamic changes in the car earlier and with more detail than Sebastian," revealed Newey.
Red Bull denies driver reshuffle for Webber, Ricciardo, Kvyat
Red Bull and Toro Rosso have denied rumours they could shake up their F1 driver lineups for the final two races of the 2013 season.
Speed Week reports rumours from the Abu Dhabi paddock that this weekend's race at Yas Marina could be Mark Webber's last in F1.
The Australian, who has admitted suffering with motivation problems, has already announced his switch for 2014 to Le Mans.
He will be replaced by countryman Daniel Ricciardo, but the latest rumour is that the 24-year-old could made an early move from Toro Rosso ahead of the US grand prix in Austin later this month.
That would free up a seat for the last two grands prix of 2013 at Toro Rosso, who have signed inexperienced youngster Daniil Kvyat for next season.
"I think it's nonsense, and I know nothing about it," Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost is quoted as saying.
"Anyway, Daniil has no super licence, so how can he race?" the Austrian added.
However, Tost's argument about the super licence does not bear up to scrutiny.
Auto Motor und Sport reports that, because Toro Rosso wants to field Kvyat in Friday practice in Austin and Brazil, a test in a 2011 car has been lined up for the 19-year-old at Misano in early November.
"That's right," Tost confirmed, "but the story for this is that he will do the first practice for us in Texas and Brazil."
Red Bull Racing, meanwhile, denied that Abu Dhabi will be Webber's last grand prix.
"Mark Webber will drive the last three races for us," the team told Speed Week.
Red Bull wanted to sign Alonso for 2008 - report
Fernando Alonso turned down an offer to move to Red Bull for the 2008 season.
That is the claim of Spain's El Mundo Deportivo newspaper, reporting that the Spaniard was the energy drink-owned team's "first choice" before he decided instead to return to Renault.
According to correspondent Elvira Gonzalez, Red Bull's talks with Alonso followed the double world champion's acrimonious split with McLaren at the end of 2007.
"Fernando Alonso had it in his hands to change the course of his own - and formula one's - history in November 2007," Gonzalez wrote.
But Alonso actually opted to return to Renault, while Red Bull stuck with its existing drivers Mark Webber and David Coulthard.
Coulthard was then replaced by a young Sebastian Vettel for 2009, while Alonso left Renault for Ferrari at the end of that season.
But in late 2007, Gonzalez claims that Alonso and Red Bull negotiated for "weeks", including a meeting in Madrid involving his manager Luis Garcia Abad, Gerhard Berger and even Dietrich Mateschitz.
Mateschitz reportedly said at the time: "I want him (Alonso), but at least for two years with an option for a third.
"From what I've heard, Alonso is talking to other teams about a one-year contract.
"I would rather wait and build a car capable of attracting the greatest drivers in the paddock in 2009," the Austrian billionaire added.
Gonzalez said moving to Toyota, who pulled out of F1 at the end of 2009, was another option for Alonso when he left McLaren.
Raikkonen won't give up fights with Grosjean - manager
In a further sign that Kimi Raikkonen's relationship with Lotus is dead in the water with three races still to run in 2013, his manager says the radio rudeness in India last Sunday was unprecedented.
"I've never heard of a driver being spoken to like that," Raikkonen's manager Steve Robertson told Turun Sanomat newspaper.
He is referring to Alan Permane's radio message to Raikkonen during the Indian grand prix, where the Finn was told to "get out of the f***ing way".
Speaking to Finland's Ilta Sanomat, Mika Hakkinen agrees: "In the teams that I drove, radio messages were never delivered with profanity."
The double world champion added that Permane's radio call to Raikkonen was neither "smart" nor "correct".
Another former F1 driver, Mika Salo, said it is up to F1 team members to "remain calm".
"Raikkonen's departure is a big blow to the team both in terms of marketing and the results," he told MTV3 broadcaster.
"You can see they are now trying to make Grosjean into a winner, so that they can still explain to sponsors and investors that they have a good guy in the garage," added Salo.
Lotus team boss Eric Boullier apologised for the outburst, but only after Permane revealed on Twitter that some of Raikkonen's fans threatened to "kill my family".
Permane called those fans "losers", but the tweets were later deleted.
Robertson, meanwhile, said Raikkonen - who angered Lotus recently when he said he only signed for Ferrari because he hasn't been paid - has no intention of giving up wheel-to-wheel battles with his teammate Grosjean.
"Kimi will always try to fight whenever it is possible," he said. "Of course, Kimi also knows how to fight for the team, so that if his teammate is fighting for the championship, for example, he wouldn't get in the way.
"But Grosjean is not fighting for the championship, so in that way he is just like any other driver on the track," Robertson insisted.
Chilton could block Hulkenberg's Force India return
A lack of sponsors and the power of pay-drivers could lock Nico Hulkenberg out of formula one.
On the one hand, the German is the hot property at the tail-end of the 2014 'silly season', linked with moves to Lotus, McLaren and Force India.
McLaren, however, is tipped to stick with the Mexican-backed Sergio Perez, while Pastor Maldonado's PDVSA millions are speaking loudly at Lotus, whose 35 per cent team sale to a group of investors may have failed.
Staying at Sauber could be problematic for Hulkenberg because of the importance of Sergey Sirotkin, Esteban Gutierrez or even Vitaly Petrov's powerful backers, and even a return to Force India may now be off the table.
McLaren is desperately seeking a F1 seat for its youngster, the new Formula Renault 3.5 champion Jan Magnussen, and Marussia seems to fit the bill.
"Kevin has impressed us in the tests he has done," sporting director Graeme Lowdon is quoted by France's L'Equipe.
"We are a team that brings young drivers into F1 so it (signing him) would fit with us," he added.
However, with the Ferrari-linked Jules Bianchi already signed for 2014, Lowdon said he would also like to keep Max Chilton on board, because continuity and experience will be important for the all-new rules next year.
Briton Chilton also has millions in backing courtesy of the insurance giant Aon, where his father Grahame is the vice chairman.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said Chilton's departure at Marussia could see his reportedly EUR 12 million in Aon backing race straight to Force India.
Force India is believed to be extending its deal with Adrian Sutil, who has some backing by the German computer company Medion.
That leaves the substantially unsponsored Paul di Resta, who has had an often fraught 2013 season, in the dark.
"It's mighty tough out there at the moment," the Scot told the Telegraph this week. "Who wouldn't be worried?"
In short, even Hulkenberg and his manager Werner Heinz are having "sleepless nights" about the situation, the Swiss newspaper Blick claims.
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