Latest F1 Rumours and Talk: Lotus Admits Maldonado Signed for His Money and More
In the fast moving world of Formula One, nothing stands still for long and that includes the F1 rumours and gossip column.
Grabbing the headlines at the start of the week is the revelation that cash-strapped Lotus were forced into taking Pastor Maldonado’s PDVSA millions, re-elected FIA president Jean Todt going back in time and the real reason Ferrari decided to re-sign Kimi Raikkonen.
Gutierrez Surprised by Hulkenberg Oversight
Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez says he is surprised that 2013 teammate Nico Hulkenberg was not snapped up by one of the big teams before his move back to Force India.
Hulkenberg had been linked with drives at both Ferrari and McLaren during the course of the season, but was heavily tipped for a move to Lotus after Kimi Raikkonen left the Enstone outfit to return to Ferrari.
But after an investment deal with Quantum Motorsports stalled, Lotus signed the heavily-funded Pastor Maldonado and Hulkenberg pursued his option to rejoin his former team.
“He is really doing well. He is a very good driver, one of the best qualifiers and it was surprising to see him struggling to get a seat,” Gutierrez told Autosport. “But there is always a reason behind it."
It's hard to define what is the reason, you have to be very complete in many ways, you have to be strong in performance and in every way. In Formula 1 you have to consider many aspects that probably many people won't consider.
Maldonado Funds Important: Boullier
The major reason for Hulkenberg being overlooked for Maldonado at Lotus is because of the extra financial clout the Venezuelan is able to bring to the team, according to team boss Eric Boullier.
Maldonado is backed by state-funded oil company PDVSA and with the Quantum deal not guaranteed, Boullier told Sky Sports that the money was a key consideration.
Obviously there is a financial support with Pastor, which in these days we may need. And unfortunately, as I said before, timing is an issue. Even if Genii is deeply involved in funding the team, there are some solutions that need to be done. And it's true that Quantum Motorsports is the best one we can have but timing is everything, especially in Formula 1. We have to deliver a car in less than eight weeks now.
Despite his admission that money was a key factor in signing Maldonado, Boullier said that with some “fine-tuning” and TLC, Lotus can get the best out of Maldonado on the track.
I think we just need to make sure he can keep his focus - actually similar issues we had with Romain last year - keep his focus on track. I'm sure that with the proper support and team around him, we can do something nice with Pastor. Maybe there is still some fine-tuning to do with him. And I think one the most important parts, having talked to him already, is obviously feeling the support of the team behind him.
Raikkonen Signing a Reaction to Alonso’s Behavior: Andretti
According to former world champion Mario Andretti, Ferrari signed Kimi Raikkonen because they became frustrated with the attitude of Fernando Alonso.
Alonso endured a tough season with Ferrari and went as far as criticising his own team after the Hungarian Grand Prix, leading president Luca di Montezemolo to publically scold the two-time world champion.
“In my opinion, Alonso became frustrated this season, and what he said offended Ferrari, Otherwise they never would have hired someone who could challenge him and even beat him,” Andretti told Spanish sports newspaper Marca via gptoday.com.
You have to know how to behave. He always had a proper behaviour, but that 1 per cent… we saw what was Montezemolo’s reaction. It will be interesting to see what happens next because Kimi is not arriving to help; he is going to try to win. It will be a great battle that will be fun to watch.
Todt Backs Move to Reintroduce Permanent Race Numbers
Jean Todt was re-elected as president of the FIA on Friday and he has already come up with a new idea to bring back an old theme.
With fans only being able to tell drivers apart by the colour of their helmets, Todt says the re-introduction of more personalised numbers would be a good move.
Currently, car numbers are assigned to the drivers on the basis of where the teams finished in the constructors’ standings with the reigning world champion and his teammate being assigned the 1 and 2 numbers.
Although Todt agrees with the champion keeping number 1 on his car, he told France's L'Equipe via motorsport.com that it would be nice if the other drivers had more personal numbers like Gilles Villeneuve's famous 27, or the "Red 5" of Nigel Mansell.
I am very supportive of that. I think it would be nice if the drivers keep the same race number, with the exception of the world champion who always displays the number 1. When I watch a Grand Prix now, I cannot see the name or the number of the driver. I know they need the space on the cars for the sponsors, but I think that there are solutions -- for example we could put a number on the helmet.
Magnussen Buoyed by Regulation Changes
New McLaren recruit Kevin Magnussen thinks the new regulations introduced for the 2014 season will put him on a level playing field with the rest of the grid.
Magnussen was a surprise signing for McLaren to replace Sergio Perez and he is currently only one of two rookies on the grid for 2014.
And although the Dane will have experienced limited time behind the wheel of an F1 car before the season starts, he is quoted on ESPNF1 as saying that his lack of experience will be negated by the new engine and aero changes.
It'll be a new challenge for everyone, not just for me. Everyone's going to have to learn about the 2014 cars - not just myself. It's a good year to come into F1. The fact that I won't have as much experience as some of the other drivers actually counts a little bit less - of course, it's still going to require a lot of hard work - and I'll have a lot to learn - but so will everyone else, so that's a positive for me.