The Formula 1 Gossip column
The latest gossip and speculation from around the sport, plus how the drivers are spending their summer holidays...
Last Updated: 17/08/18 9:48am
Kubica to make F1 return in Belgium? Ocon to McLaren?
Now this is interesting.
Sky F1 expert Mark Hughes has beautifully summarised a bonkers driver market in his latest Motorsport Magazine column, and claims the falling dominoes could lead to Robert Kubica returning to F1 with Williams at next weekend's Belgian GP!
"Carlos Sainz's signing for McLaren as Fernando Alonso's replacement for 2019 puts another piece in the driver market jigsaw," he writes. "But we may be about to see some pieces being moved by the very next race at Spa, with Lance Stroll quite possibly switching to Force India and his place being taken at Williamse by Robert Kubica."
Time for an explainer.
Mark reports that Toto Wolff was concerned about Force India's financial woes and so lined up a McLaren seat for Esteban Ocon for the second half of the season with a view to a 2019 drive.
That was then quashed after Ocon agreed a deal with Renault for next season, with Wolff then approaching McLaren about putting Sainz in the car early, but that was then aborted after Daniel Ricciardo surprised everybody, Renault included, by signing for the French team.
Meanwhile, the buyer of Force India was the Lawrence Stroll-led consortium, and Lawrence now has the possibility of moving his son Lance from Williams to the much-more competitive Force India team for the second half of the season. Hence putting Ocon's current drive under threat again!
"If Lance Stroll does make the switch (with appropriate compensation to Williams), then Robert Kubica is in line to stand in at Williams - and we'd finally get to see that little fairy tale come true," Hughes continues.
"All of which still leaves Ocon without a confirmed 2019 drive. May we yet see him in a McLaren, as Wolff originally tried to make happen for Hungary?" (Full story - external link)
Alonso open to F1 return
He may be leaving the sport at the end of the season, but Fernando Alonso is not closing the door on a return to Formula 1 in the future.
"I think the door open is more because I think I am driving at the best level of my career now," he said, via Motorsport.com. "And why to close doors if anything could happen in the future?
"I am still young. I am not 45 years old. I feel strong and I am doing this year 27 races, so my thinking is to stop. And that is why I stop. But who knows? That is the reason why." (Full story - external link)
Raikkonen to sign two-year Ferrari contract?
Kimi Raikkonen is expected to fend off competition from Charles Leclerc to partner Sebastian Vettel next season, with the Finn set to be handed another lifeline by Ferrari.
But while it was thought this would be another one-year extension for Raikkonen, reports in France actually suggest he could be given a contract up until the end of the 2020 season.
That would put Raikkonen in line with Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen on contract length.
If that's true, that's a big blow to drivers who may fancy that Ferrari seat - particularly rising star Leclerc! (Full story - external link, in French)
Could Norris replace Alonso?
So what might Fernando Alonso's exit from F1 at the end of the year mean for young hopeful Lando Norris?
Alonso not on Red Bull's list
Red Bull chief Christian Horner says Fernando Alonso won't be replacing Daniel Ricciardo at the team next year (Full story)
Drivers' holiday snaps
F1's man of fewest words has something to say...
Hockenheim not giving up on 2019
There's still no contract in place for the German GP from next year, but Hockenheim are not throwing in the towel on 2019 yet after a successful return to the calendar this year.
"We have not written off Formula 1. We want Formula 1," said circuit chief Georg Seiler, who confirmed that negotiations over a new deal are continuing with F1 bosses. (Full story - external site)
F1's transfer shocks compared
Daniel Ricciardo's surprise Renault switch has already been compared with Lewis Hamilton's to Mercedes six years ago, but Sky F1's Mark Hughes isn't so sure.
'This is really not the equivalent of Lewis Hamilton leaving McLaren for Mercedes,' wrote Hughes in his Motor Sport column. 'That was leaving a title-contending team for a hugely-funded race-winning team with the potential for a lot more.
'This is more like Fernando Alonso leaving Ferrari for McLaren; yes, there are obvious frustrations and imperfections, always something in the way of ultimate success, but the alternative is far behind, maybe improving, maybe not.' (Full story - external site)
Well, Pierre Gasly definitely has his phone on while holidaying...
Max Verstappen...in his own words
McLaren 'pretty close' to signing Ricciardo
McLaren believe they were "pretty close" to signing Daniel Ricciardo ahead of Renault.
McLaren are understood to have offered Ricciardo a substantial pay-rise in a bid to lure him out of Red Bull before the Australian opted to join the Renault works outfit, McLaren's engine supplier.
"We had a couple of meetings and we are big fans of Daniel," McLaren boss Zak Brown told Racer. "How close we came to getting him, I think only Daniel knows the answer to that question.
"I think he had a strong desire to leave and I think it was probably pretty close between us and Renault, but ultimately Daniel would be best to tell you how close" (Full story - external site)
Ricciardo breaks his silence
What now for the F1 transfer market?
So what will Ricciardo's transfer to Renault mean for the likes of Esteban Ocon, Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly? (Full story)
Renault the new Mercedes?
These quotes from Cyril Abiteboul - comparing Renault to Mercedes before their wave of domination began - just became a lot more pertinent.
"Everyone sees that we are on the way up," the Renault chief told Sky F1. "And a number of drivers are asking themselves if we are the next cycle in Formula 1.
"We remember that Lewis, when he decided to join Mercedes, they were only P5 in the championship and we are currently P4. That says a lot about what some drivers can see for the future."
How the F1 world reacted to the bombshell... (Full story)
It's official: Ricciardo to leave Red Bull
How Red Bull made the bombshell announcement (Full story)
Ricciardo to sign for... Renault?
Now this would be some story!
Daniel Ricciardo will shock Red Bull by telling them he's leaving at the end of the season for Renault, according to The Daily Mail.
The surprise report has emerged during a summer break in which Ricciardo said he would be "definitely" penning his Red Bull extension.
But the newspaper claims that Ricciardo has 'felt unloved by Red Bull after they made Max Verstappen their de facto No 1 by rewarding him with a massively improved deal last season.'
Jonathan McEvoy writes that the Australian, out of contract at the end of 2018, didn't get the 'assurances he craved' from Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz.
Ricciardo leaving Red Bull, who have won three races this season, for a Renault team, who are currently around a second-a-lap slower, would certainly be a shock, especially as the two outfits are at odds over engines at the moment.
Red Bull are ditching Renault power for Honda next year after a raft of reliability failures.
Watch this space! (Full story - external link)
Norris reflects on Hungary test
British youngster enjoyed two days of running for McLaren in Budapest
F1 drivers start their summer holidays...
...or at least most of them!
Ricciardo v Verstappen...and Max gets a little angry!
Bell steps down from full-time Renault role
Bob Bell will move away from his chief technical officer role at Renault to take on a wider advisory position on a part-time basis. Bell returned to Enstone for Renault's return to F1 team ownership in 2016 after a spell at Mercedes but has sought a move away from front-line F1 involvement. He will not be replaced in the position.
"In just two and a half years he has helped to make Renault Sport a genuine and respected points scorer," said Cyril Abiteboul. "He's also a massive part of the heart and soul of the team and a real motivator for everyone to draw together and get the best from themselves and each other.
"Under this planned transition within the team's executive management, Bob will now look closely at how to work with our partners but also the different stakeholders of Formula 1, and of the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance, to ensure we continue to move even further up the grid."
Could there be a second Brit on the grid in 2019?
The Times reports that 'Mercedes are hoping to get George Russell, their British reserve driver, a seat in Formula One next season, with Williams thought to be the most likely destination.
'While Mercedes cannot tell Williams to put their man in the car, the teams are closely connected. Mercedes provide Williams with a race engine and there is talk of expanding that deal to include the gearbox'. (Full story - external site)
A vacancy could emerge at Williams if Lance Stroll moves to Force India - his billionaire father, Lawrence, is believed to be among the interested prospective new owners of the team after it entered administration.
Verstappen sorry for sweary outburst
Looking back on yesterday the disappointment is still there. However, I should not have used the words I did in the heat of the moment. Emotions were running high after a good start to the race. These frustrations came for a reason, after another unexpected engine failure which have been happening too often over the past few years. We came to Budapest with high expectations and not being able to be competitive made it hard to swallow for us. I will go into the summer break hoping we will be back stronger after it.
Like father, like son...
How the drivers will spend their summer holidays
A stag do, family and travelling for Lewis Hamilton, day trips on a bicycle and fishing for Sebastian Vettel, and time with the family for Kimi Raikkonen...
Kimi: "I go home with family, come back for Wednesday for testing, after that, go back home again so I pretty much spend the first week flying back and forwards between Hungary and Switzerland and then after that obviously we have some time to spend with the family so that's nice."
Sebastian: "Not very spectacular, I will just be home to be honest. Obviously I think we do enough of travelling in planes so I can't be [bothered] to go on a plane, I'm pretty much happy to sit in one place and just enjoy. I think we've had an amazing summer so far, I hope it doesn't swing yet because now's the time for us when we have a bit of time off. I think other than day trips on the bicycle or - I don't know - doing something boring like fishing or. It will be quite boring and I'm happy with that."
Lewis: "Obviously my life's a little bit different, I don't have a wife and kids and that so I'm still in a fun period!
"I am an uncle so I will spend some time with my Mum, my sister and kids which is always great. Then my best friend's got a stag so that's going to be interesting and then I haven't decided where I'm going for the last part of it. Then my cousin's getting married so I've got a couple of people getting married and stuff so I'm sure there'll be some partying, I'm sure there will be some relaxing but most importantly I think it's about re-energizing yourself but the way I do that is activities so I will be trying to be active, training and just gathering a lot of energy.
"I probably will travel a bit because I like travelling, while I can, until I'm anchored down."
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