INTERNATIONAL MOTORSPORT: What's next for F1?
IT WAS an interesting finale for the first half of the F1 season. The Hungarian Grand Prix was the last race for a month as the teams now go off on their mandatory holiday and it has left the championship points situation poised for a very exciting return on the September 2 at Spa in Belgium.
McLaren have certainly found some pace and Lewis Hamilton's results in qualifying and the race showed a revitalised team. His team-mate Jenson Button also had a better run, but was foiled by a strange change in strategy by the team. Button was pulled in for a third pit stop and that put paid to any thoughts of getting on the podium.
To me the most significant aspect of the race had to be the tremendous performance by both of the Lotus drivers, with Kimi Raikkonen taking second and Romain Grosjean third. It cannot be too long before one of these two fills the top step with a victory. The car has become very competitive and both drivers are making good use of every opportunity to ensure that the gold and black livery will once again be in the limelight.
Sebastian Vettel brought the first of the Red Bulls home in fourth, with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso just managing to fend off Button for the fifth spot. Before the race Alonso had said that he did not believe he would be able to fight for a top three finish in the dry and his only hope was rain. That may be so, but his finish added another 10 points to his tally for the drivers title and with his nearest rival Mark Webber only managing eighth, the Spaniard goes into the summer recess with a full 40-point advantage.
It certainly was not Mercedes' day, with Michael Schumacher retiring and Rosberg only collecting one point for 10th spot. The qualifying and race results are the worst that the team has experienced and one wonders if Schumacher will reach his decision regarding his future during the break. Could it be full retirement for the seven-time world champion?
Continuing the mid-season musical chairs, the latest rumour concerns the possible vacancy at Ferrari if the current occupant, Felipe Massa, should choose or is requested to move over. One of the problems for Ferrari is the fact that Massa is just not bringing home the points, and in the fight for the constructor's title that is a major problem.
So we have two names being mentioned to replace the Brazilian: Raikkonen and Button. Many have said that the Finn would not go back to a team that he left under a cloud and with animosity between himself and Ferrari chief Luca di Montezemolo, but it appears that Raikkonen does not believe that would be a problem and he would consider a move to Maranello. Right now he is happy with Lotus, but does not rule out future circumstances. Let us not forget that Raikkonen won his world title with the prancing horse in 2007.
Jenson Button apparently informed Autosport magazine that Ferrari is aware of the terms and conditions of his present contract with McLaren, but let us not forget that that contract was only signed at the Japanese Grand Prix last year and was apparently for a two-year period.
Of course, mere contracts are certainly there to be bought out or broken in the world of F1, so I guess we will have to wait and see.
Another name mentioned in connection with Maranello is that of a Finn whose present contract is set to expire at the end of this season, and that is Heikki Kovalainen. I personally cannot see that happening as Ferrari have always said that they need someone with experience and though the Finn has that, most of it has been in very uncompetitive cars at the wrong end of the field, not exactly where the scuderia spends much of its time.
It will be a while before we know who is going where, but it certainly provides food for thought.
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