11 Jul 2012

F1 - Rumours, gossip and damn lies

If you look at the various websites, magazines, newspapers and social media you will not help but notice that, in the absence of any actual news, lots of stories are doing the rounds - often purported as fact.

Speedmonkey, whilst not claiming any insider information, has been around long enough to spot what is potentially real and what is plainly lies.  And what is planted by various parties for their own benefit.

The opinions below are are own opinion, unless stated otherwise.

Rumour - Lewis Hamilton is talking with Lotus and will join them in 2013.

McLaren is, and always has been, one of the top teams.  Very few drivers have left McLaren, of their own volition, for any reason other than retirement or a personality clash.  The car is not looking very good at the moment but it soon will be.  Lewis' problems last year were mainly of his own making and McLaren were patient with him.  The car has been slow over the past few races.  It will catch up.  Lewis and Jenson complement each other in terms of driving and personality.  They are both top drivers at the top of their game and push each other to achieve.  

The only recent fly in the ointment has been Ron Dennis' quote that McLaren, as everyone, is feeling the pinch in the recession and that Lewis should not expect such an astronomical salary if he is to stay at McLaren.  The Lewis to Lotus rumours have been put out by Didier Coton, Lewis' canny and experienced manager, in order to create a buzz and therefore push up Hamilton's salary.

Verdict - rubbish.

Rumour - Michael Schumacher will retire after 2013.

Michael Schumacher is 43.  In 2013 he will be 44.  The greatest F1 driver of all time, Juan Manuel Fangio, won his final world championship aged 46 - he retired in 1956 aged 47.  Nigel Mansell won his only world championship in 1992 aged 32 and retired aged 43.  For the best, passion and ability have as much to do with a drivers retirement as his age.

Schumacher started in F1 in 1992 and first retired in 2006.  From 2003 onwards stories surrounding his retirement constantly surfaced in the press for the reason that he was getting older and the journalists had nothing better to say.  In truth Schumacher planned his first retirement.  But then he got bored and came back.

Michael Schumacher will sign for another year with his best, and oldest friend in F1, Ross Brawn.  He will then appraise his fitness, enjoyment and ability to produce results on a year by year basis.  In 2013 Schumacher will still be two years younger than Fangio was when he won his final world championship.

Verdict - only Schumacher and Ross Brawn know. Everyone else is just speculating.

Rumour - Sebastian Vettel has signed to drive for Ferrari in 2013.

Red Bull has recently produced the best car in the F1 field which Sebastian has used to win two world championships.  He is still only 25.  Michael Schumacher joined Benetton in 1993 aged 24.  In 1995, having driven the best car in the field, he won his second world championship with Benetton then left them for Ferrari.  He was 26.

Ferrari is a draw for many F1 drivers.  Most will have dreamed from an early age of joining McLaren or Ferrari.  Sebastian will no doubt become bored winning with Red Bull and look to move to either Ferrari or McLaren at some point for nothing if not the prestige.

The rumours are just that, rumours, but there is a clear path that Vettel is following, that many have followed before.  In all likelihood he will end up at Ferrari in the next few years.  But first Alonso will have to leave.  Ferrari do not like two number 1 drivers.  Mercedes have plenty of money to spend on a top driver, to replace Michael Schumacher when he eventually does retire, and they don't come better than Fernando.  So, perhaps, Alonso will leave for Mercedes and Vettel will replace him at Ferrari.  But it will all hinge on Michael.

Verdict - maybe.

Rumour  - Vodafone will drop out and Coca Cola will replace them as McLaren title sponsor next year

Another load of rubbish.  Rather than try and explain it myself have a read what the esteemed Joe Saward has to say on the subject here.

Verdict - rubbish

Rumour - Pastor Maldonado has been replaced by a cyborg called The Maldonator 

Competely true.  Read here and here for the full facts

Verdict - true.  Very, very true.