F1 Rumours: Raikkonen To Ferrari, Renault Wants Alonso At Lotus Photo:
TMR Team | Sep, 10 2013 | 4 Comments

Rumours were swirling in the Monza paddock on Sunday, and the buzzword was 'Wednesday'.

The big talking point was whether Kimi Raikkonen in fact agreed a 2014 deal to rejoin Ferrari next year on the Wednesday of last week, or whether the Italian team will announce it formally on the coming Wednesday.

Perhaps both are true. Perhaps neither.

Felipe Massa will be hoping the latter is true, but he admitted on Sunday that a cloud does hang over his formula one future.

"We're still discussing it," he said of his talks with Ferrari about next year.

"This race was important, not only for the contract with Ferrari but to show other teams what I'm able to do," Massa, who finished fourth on Sunday, told the BBC.

Another driver hoping Ferrari's 2014 deliberations involve him is Nico Hulkenberg, who had a sensational weekend at Monza for struggling Ferrari-powered Sauber -- qualifying third and finishing fifth.

On the possibility of joining Ferrari, the German said: "It's definitely something I wouldn't deny which I'm definitely interested in -- it's a no-brainer.

"There has been lots of talk but at some point the talking has to stop and the decisions will be made," added Hulkenberg.



Reports - Renault to woo Alonso to Lotus?

As the formula one paddock emptied at Monza, one rumour had moved into the realm of fact -- Kimi Raikkonen is returning to Ferrari in 2014.

The news was being confidently reported by broadcasters, including Germany's RTL, the major daily Bild, and even perhaps the most respected correspondent in the paddock, Auto Motor und Sport's Michael Schmidt.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo will reportedly inform Felipe Massa that his services are no longer required in a personal meeting at Maranello on Wednesday.

It would go some way to explaining the Italian team's current 'number 1' driver Fernando Alonso's foul mood and outbursts of recent days and weeks.

Bild reported that the long delay in the actual signing of Raikkonen's deal is because part of his management team, David Robertson, is in hospital in the US with cancer.

In the meantime, Spaniard Alonso has pushed hard for the status-quo, openly arguing that Massa should stay put. He has not won the day.

Der Spiegel claims to even know who will pay Raikkonen's approximately EUR 20 million salary -- partly the Alonso-linked Spanish bank Santander, and partly team sponsor Shell.

"Let's see what happens," Massa told the Italian broadcaster Rai on Sunday.

"Yes, this race was important for my future, but it doesn't mean that my only future can be (wearing) red."

He is also quoted by O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper: "He (Montezemolo) will not announce anything without talking to me, for sure.

"I love Ferrari. But the other teams also know what I can do."

Finn Raikkonen, as per usual, was also giving little away on Sunday.

"I don't know anything yet," he told the Rai broadcaster. "Once I know, I'll tell you."

Indeed, once the news becomes official, the really explosive speculation may begin.

The German dailies Bild and Welt already report that Alonso is so unhappy with Raikkonen's arrival that he could jump ship to fill the Finn's place at Lotus.

That move actually might not be as unlikely as it sounds.

Bild newspaper said it could coincide with a ramping up of works Renault support for the Enstone based team, backed fully by the French carmaker's chairman Carlos Ghosn.

When asked about that potentially explosive news, Lotus team boss Eric Boullier said: "If Fernando knocks on my door, I will answer it.

"I just hope that I can pay for it!"

He is also quoted by f1news.ru: "We are trying to establish a relationship with Renault and Total, which is important from a technical standpoint but it also may help on the financial side."

Switzerland's Blick newspaper reported that Nico Hulkenberg will definitely not be staying at Sauber next year.

The German has been linked with Massa's Ferrari seat, but he might also be a candidate to replace Raikkonen at Lotus.

"We all have plans and backup plans," said Boullier.

When asked simply 'Kimi or Nico?' the Frenchman answered: "Good question."



Even with Raikkonen, Alonso still 'number 1' - Briatore

Flavio Briatore insists Fernando Alonso will not be worried if Kimi Raikkonen is signed by Ferrari for 2014.

As the long and sillier-than-usual driver 'silly-season' finally looks set to draw to a close, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said at Monza he is now poised to decide the famous Italian team's next lineup.

"We will take a decision in the next days, and we haven't taken any kind of a decision yet," he said on Saturday.

Undoubtedly, the frontrunners to be Spaniard Alonso's teammate next year are Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg -- and probably in that order of preference.

The fact former team champion Raikkonen, first signed in 2007 to replace former 'number 1' Michael Schumacher, is Ferrari's preference probably explains Alonso's foul mood of recent weeks.

The latest evidence that all is not well in the Alonso-Ferrari marriage was broadcast live in the Italian tongue at the end of qualifying on Saturday.

Alonso called his colleagues either "scemi" (stupid) or "geni" (geniuses) -- the double world champion insisted it was the latter.

"It's ok," Alonso said. "I am long enough in formula one that I know that these things are hyped."

But the episode left Montezemolo visibly furious, and initially refusing to give interviews.

Later, when asked about the radio controversy, he told Italian reporters: "I don't know and I don't care, the issue is to be united and to fight with knives between our teeth tomorrow."

The undoubted elephant in the room, however, is Raikkonen.

"First of all, Kimi is a good driver," said Montezemolo, when asked about the strengthening rumours.

As for his apparently strained relationship with the taciturn Finn, he answered: "What happened in the past with Kimi (and Ferrari)? We won a world championship."

Many in the paddock think the 33-year-old, to be the oldest driver in F1 next year after Mark Webber's departure, has already signed a 2014 deal.

"Ha," Raikkonen told F1's official website on Saturday, "some days ago the same people were 100 per cent sure that I'd signed for Red Bull! So much for that."

But if he does eventually sign, surely Alonso - the current Ferrari 'number 1' - will not like it. The looming prospect of having Felipe Massa replaced by Raikkonen would surely explain Alonso's recent foul mood.

Briatore, who is still involved in Alonso's management, doesn't see it like that.

"Fernando is the number 1 and I don't see any others," he said at Monza, "unless you are talking about Hamilton and Vettel. These are the roosters in formula one.

"He (Alonso) would have no problem to drive with any teammate. He just needs a driver who collaborates in the development of the car," Briatore is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

In truth, if Ferrari is determined to drop Massa, and Alonso then gets his way, the driver who would be signed qualified third on Saturday -- in front of both red cars.

"I am pleased to see it (the Sauber) up there with the best," said Montezemolo, "because it shows we have a great engine."

He didn't refer specifically to the 26-year-old German, but Nico Hulkenberg did his cause no harm at Monza with a giant-killing performance in an inferior car.

"He is incredibly fast," triple world champion Niki Lauda said on German television RTL. "He proves time and time again, and especially now, just what he can do."

Even Hulkenberg admitted he did his quest for Massa's seat a big favour at Monza.

"I can only influence it (Ferrari's decision) by performing very well, and obviously the timing (of qualifying third at Monza) is not the worst," he smiled.



Rumour - Brawn buying into Williams?

The Monza paddock began to disband late on Sunday amid the swirling rumour that Ross Brawn may be buying into the Williams team.

The story was mentioned by the British broadcaster Sky, in the wake of earlier news that Toto Wolff is moving to sell his 15 per cent share in the Grove based team.

Wolff and Brawn currently work together at Mercedes, who will supply V6 engines to Williams next year.

Brawn, team boss, has acknowledged he will eventually be replaced by Mercedes' new signing Paddy Lowe, so - if true - buying into Williams would breathe new life into his long career.

Briton Brawn, 58, began his career in the 70s when Sir Frank Williams gave him a job as a machinist.

Later, in the mid 90s, he worked with great success at Benetton alongside Pat Symonds, who has just started work as Williams' new technical boss.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, however, reported on Saturday that Wolff in fact seems to be selling his 15 per cent team stake to a Russian interest.

And Sky acknowledged on Sunday that Williams advisor Alex Wurz, a former team driver, had vehemently denied the rumour.

Other reports said Wolff himself also denied he is selling his stake to Brawn.



Rivals admit Vettel on cruise for fourth title

As he reinforced his dominance on the season with a sixth win of 2013 on Sunday, Sebastian Vettel's rivals acknowledged at Monza the German is on course to be a four-time world champion.

With seven races still to run this year, the Red Bull driver's closest challenger is Fernando Alonso -- and the Spaniard's deficit is 53 points.

That means that if the Red Bull simply comes second for the rest of the year, with Alonso's Ferrari managing an unlikely seven-race winning streak, Vettel will still be champion after November's Brazil finale.

"I think we need to be realistic about the championship now -- there's a very big gap," Alonso said after finishing second in Italy.

"We don't have enough races (left) and probably we don't have the speed right now.

"We need to be lucky and we need to have some DNFs from Sebastian or something to win the championship," he added.

Lewis Hamilton is a further 28 points adrift, so he got out of his Mercedes on Sunday and admitted: "Obviously that's that for the championship."

Later, after a shower and a team debrief, the Briton insisted he's actually not giving up.

But even his boss Toto Wolff admitted to German reporters that continuing to charge for the title is now an "unrealistic" goal.

So with the title looking like a Vettel whitewash, the bigger talking point after the Italian grand prix was the behaviour of the Ferrari-loving 'tifosi'.

They chanted, booed and whistled throughout the German national anthem, moving Vettel's teammate Mark Webber - hardly a big fan of the 26-year-old - to surmise that the atmosphere on the podium was "not completely correct".

But Vettel, despite earlier complaining about being booed at Silverstone, seemed less bothered.

"I said on the radio on the in-lap that the more booing we get, the better we have done today. It's normal," he told reporters.

"I don't blame the people to be honest, I think their love of Ferrari is in their genes."

As for his seemingly inevitable charge for a Michael Schumacher-esque fourth consecutive world championship, the German said he is not celebrating yet.

"I don't go for predictions, I go for facts, and fact is that mathematically a number of scenarios are still possible," he told F1's official website.


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