July 13, 2008

This Week's F1 Rumors, Silly Season Edition.

No GP this week end so it's time to enjoy exploring the latest rumors and unconfirmed reports.

Half way though the championship and it's time for "Silly Season" to get underway and this week there is that big speculative item regarding driver changes for the future and grumblings about ECUs again ....
photo: Cahier Archive

Santander, the Spanish bank now a sponsor to Mclaren is, according to some, all set to move to Ferrari in 2010. This of course means Alonso in red.

Luca Di Montezemolo may have been quoted as saying there will not be two top dogs at Ferrari but, with the Santander deal reported to be worth 25 million euro per year plus a 30 million "bonus" to Ferrari for signing Alonso, the Marlboro contract up in 2011 and the marketing prospect of two World Champions on the same team...you do the math.

So who's leaving? Massa's contract is through 2010 but Raikkonen's ends at the end of next season, 2009. So Alonso in for Kimi after next year? Kimi did look oddly nervous at Silverstone.

One and a half seasons is a long time to wait if a major player feels it's not getting optimal return on investment. Santander would rather not sponsor Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen, they got into Mclaren because of Alonso. Mutua Madrilena paid a penalty and got out of their Mclaren contract early, Santader could choose the same route.

Is it a possibility that unless he wins the championship this year, Massa would see his contract broken and Alonso drive for Ferrari already next year? For sure Alonso will not want to have another year in an uncompetitive car risking ending up another Jaques Villenenuve.

Alonso, it should be noted, was the only driver without spins or off track excursions at last week's British GP. Had he and Renault not made the same tire choice error as Ferrari, Alonso might have been on the podium.

Speaking of spins, mumbling are reported from pit lane are about how much does Mclaren's intimate knowledge of the standard ECU (which they designed and build for all teams) allow them to have an advantage in difficult wet conditions. There is no traction control this year but there are different engine mapping strategies and these do play a big part in the drivability of the car.


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