Alex Palmer Writes
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So - there was a race this afternoon....last race of the European summer....a Mercedes one-two....blah blah blah....Rosberg got bood....Ricciardo came through the pack with some brilliant overtaking....blah blah blah....Massas first podium in a long time with Bottas also making up lots of places.

But theres more interesting news and rumors off the track this weekend.  Firstly, Williams started race day with an announcement that theyd resigned Bottas and retained Massa (who, to be fair, does actually have a contract through to the end of next season).  Then there was the surprising announcement of the resignation of Christijan Albers who would probably go down in history as the team boss with the shortest ever reign. But it wasnt all bad for Caterham, they did manage to finish both cars this race (and Kobyashi was even ahead of a Sauber!) which was something Marussia couldnt manage after an error from Chilton put paid to his race early.

Theres an unofficial 2015 calendar published on a German motorsport website, which a number of other sites have republished (including this version on in English ) accompanied by varying degrees of confidence around how accurate / what other changes we might see before a final version is published.  For the record, everything (including Sochi) remains on essentially the same weekend as this year - starting with Melbourne on 15 March, Malaysia returns to the following weekend (22 March) then the only change is the addition of the Mexican GP on the last weekend in October immediately preceding the Austin GP in the first week of November.  The last round will be in Abu Dhabi either the 22 or 29 November.  Apparently this version was discussed with the team principals at Monza, so I guess well see in coming weeks just how accurate it turns out to be.  And the rumors that just wont quit surrounding long-time Ferrari boss Luca Di Montezemolo potentially leaving to take a tilt at Italian politics - despite his repeated public denials as recently as this weekends press conference.

Probably the biggest news (other than the envious F1 media posting twitter pics of Lewis Hamilton and entourage in their private jet taxi-ing away while the media are still on their shuttle bus to the airport, or the happy snap of Toto and Suzi Wolff with a trophy each after this round ) would have to be the increasing volume of chatter around the potential switch from 11 teams running two cars each, to 8 teams running 3 cars each.  Granted, we all know Sauber, Caterham and Marussia are having difficulty with finances and performance this season - and the American Haas Racing (or whatever they end up being called) are waiting in the wings, but which 8 teams would that be?  Could we see Mercedes scoop up Sauber or Ferrari scoop up Marussia?  And what would that do for already contracted drivers? And how would that work out for McLaren and Honda given theres been talk of Honda looking for a second-string team to run Honda engines as well as McLaren as they return to F1 next year.  It could be a really interesting next month or so as that sorts its self out.

F1 returns to Asia in two weeks with the Singapore night race, some consider it a boring track but theres no question about the atmosphere around the track.  Although there are some questions being asked about Socchi given the current action between Russia and Ukraine, I think we will see the F1 cars around Socchi in a few weeks. 

To finish off today, a quick plug for the new Formula E series which kicks off in Shanghai next weekend. Variously being touted as the series of the future, or as a passable alternative to keep F1 fans entertained during the off-season (the calendar runs Sept 14 to June 15) it will at least be interesting to see what quality of racing the category can muster given theres a number of ex-F1 drivers and some good young talent on the grid.

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Where has 2014 gone?  It feels like only yesterday we were watching the abysmal results for Renault-powered teams from the winter testing, and speculating on just how many cars might finish in Melbourne.  And all the talk was about the lack of engine noise, something that seems to have faded as crowds have got more used to what theyre hearing.  I could be mischievous and suggest that this engine-noise-reduction step was the the precursor to the time when the cars might be fully hybrid technology and therefore all wed hear is the squealing of the tyres, but Im sure that is a few years off yet.

Attention has started to turn to the drivers, with rumours persisting that Ron Dennis has offered Alonso a lot of money to jump ship to McLaren in 2015.  There is the added carrot, given the season Ferrari have been having, to work with the new Honda engine remembering that Honda was arguably the best turbo-engine manufacturer from days past.  That move would require Jenson Button to retire though, and Im not sure he thinks hes ready to do that just yet.  I also wonder whether Ferrari will have patience with Raikkonen for another season, he continues to struggle and Ferrari have two good young drivers - Hulkenburg (who I think is committed to Force India until the end of 2015) and Bianchi (who might be looking for a drive next year if Marussias rumoured financial woes continue).  It will be interesting to see which teams finalise their driver line-ups this weekend, and which might still be waiting for other moving pieces to settle.

Also, in light of whats happening in Russia, one would have to imagine that the Sochi F1 GP would have to be in some doubt - especially in light of the precedent set a few years ago with Bahrain.  What do you think - should F1 still go to Russia??

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Well, whaddaya know - Rosberg and Hamilton finally pushed just that little bit too hard and on this occasion Rosberg seems to have made the error that cost Hamilton his place in the points.  There have been all sorts of stories about what went on behind closed doors during the Merc debrief, ranging from Hamiltons account that Rosberg did it deliberately to reports of Rosberg calling it a racing incident.  Although I definately dont like the crowd boo-ing anyone (remember Vettels run last year??) I think the response of the crowd at the podium said it all in this case.  But having said that, Eddie Jordans handing of the crowd and the situation on the podium was very well done - to the point where most of the crowd did eventually give Rosberg a cheer.  And please dont think that I am in any way calling for EJ to make more regular appearances as the podium interviewer - I would still prefer that the drivers were interviewed properly by the media once the podium ceremony is finished.  As one of my F1infocentre colleagues noted overnight, it would have been nice to wake up this morning to read about Lauda having slapped Nico across the side of the head - but as this would probably occur behind closed doors we will be dependent on Hamiltons version of the story.  Which would probably be something like "yeah, well, the boss decided the best way to deal with him was to punch his lights out, then take him over to medical to make sure he was OK".  Ok, moving on......

Great to see Dan Ricciardo lead for a good chunk of the race (as opposed to grabbing the lead in the closing few laps), and proving that there may just be life in this season yet - could it come down to the last round double-points for the Red Bull rookie to steal the Drivers championship?  Further down the paddock, it was an early exit for Caterhams stand-in driver Lotterer despite his having out-qualified Ericsson.  And the dismal Sauber season continues, it would appear Sutil has retained his seat for 2015 but will Gutierrez remain if there are other drivers available with sponsorship dollars?  Among the big rumours around at the moment is the persistent rumour of a swap between Alonso and Vettel, with the added spice of some (albeit not mainstream media) speculation around Red Bull maybe doing an engine deal with Honda for 2016. 

Ah - the theories......I could probably make up a few if pressed.  How about this one - a Mexican-backed consortium to buy out the Irish owners of Marussia and establish an all-Mex team with Gutierrez and Perez.  Or Button to move to the new US-based F1 team, making way for Chilton and his $$ to help prop up McLarens first year with new engine manufacturer Honda.

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What a spectacular race today, requiring good strategy and gutsy passing (on a track not known as one where passing is a feature) and a wet track but also a bit of good luck - to deliver one of the most intriguing races of the season so far.  Some highlights for me included Massa making it past the first lap, Maldonado outlasting his Lotus team-mate, a smoking Mercedes that DIDNT end up in flames, and a patient but determined Aussie whos team strategy call put him in a perfect position to capitalise late in the race.

But this race will probably be remembered most for Lewis Hamiltons stellar recovery from starting in the pit lane to finish on the podium, having defied team orders based on Nicos alternate strategy then held off his fast-finishing team-mate in the last corner to sneak home.  What an amazing recovery after the flaming end to quali yesterday - those team personel who worked through the night surely got their payoff with the podium!  But the other story of the day would have to be that once again Red Bull and Ferrari showed that the Mercedes arent invincible, even on a day when they didnt have any mechanical issues.  Both have finished ahead of the Mercedes on two occasions and surely will take hope from that going into the summer break.

One thing that has had a bit of coverage from commentators and bloggers is the steady stream of mechanical issues that were seeing.  At the start of the season we expected to see lots of cars fail to finish but were suprised with the early season reliability.  But are we going to see those gremlins start to creep in at this time of the season?  There have been quite a few non-finishers the last couple of races and I suspect that over the next few rounds we might continue to see a high number of non-finishers.

Theres also a few changes being discussed around the paddock for next season, and Ill comment on some of those during the summer break including some of the more outlandish ideas being suggested by former-F1 paddock regular Flavio Briatore.  But one that caught my attention this week was the idea of a success ballast (being that you get a weight penalty for being successful).  This has caused the usual wags on twitter to get creative - this is my favourite!

Enjoy your break from racing, dont forget to check back here for news on driver changes and plans for 2015!!

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Were well into the summer break, and while theres not been any on-track action there have been a few stories around the last week which I thought would be worth a mention.  Lets start with the rumour doing the rounds on twitter and a few motorsports outlets that Kimi Raikkonen and girlfriend Minttu Virtanen are expecting a baby in the next few months.  As one would expect, there has been no official confirmation from Kimis management or from Ferrari sources, however the rumours appear to be centered around posts made by Minttu on her instagram account so Im pretty confident theres some truth to the rumour.

In other Ferrari news, some twitter chat this weekend that Luca di Montezemolo is leaving (or has left!) Ferrari - although theres probably just as much twitter chat that hes taking a non-executive job with Alitalia (Italian airline in which Etihad just took a significant stake).  And to be fair, theres probably just as much twitter chat that Elvis has been sighted in a Memphis diner and that aliens have been sighted over New take that one with the appropriate dose of salt.

We have seen Alexander Rossi move from Caterham to Marussia (and those of us planning to visit Austin will probably see him on the track in FP1), but no other real driver news other than the recurring speculation about Jenson Buttons future with McLaren.  Which, again, to be fair, is probably partially due to Mark Webber no longer being around - as much as its due to the fact that he is rather old for an F1 driver and has been outperformed by younger team-mate Kevin Magnussen rather consistently so far this year.  But to put that in perspective, he also just finished 11th out of 1100-odd participants and second in his age group at the Cebu 70.3 Triathlon (Philippines).  Wow....

And it would be remiss of me NOT to mention the recent (but not surprising) resolution of Bernie Ecclestones bribery trial, when prosecutors agreed to end the case after Bernie payed them almost $100,000,000 (yes,  100 million!).  Does anyone else find it rather strange that a bribery trial ends with the accused agreeing to make a quite significant monetary payment?  Oh to have that much loose change!!

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Hot on the heels of the World Cup football win, Rosberg has brought home his German-engined car to win the German Grand Prix in front of what can only be described as a disappointing crowd.  Across the weekend its been hard to miss the empty grandstands, but under cloudy skies the real race today was actually with the other Mercedes car as Hamilton threaded his way up through the field to come home in a gallant third place.  It was always going to be a Mercedes win (provided the reliability issues stayed away), but the real race for mine was watching Magnussen, Ricciardo, Alonso, Vettel, Raikkonen and Bottas trying to hold off Hamilton and each other for the last two spots on the podium.  But the driver of the day for me would have to be Bottas, with Williams winning "...fair and square..." over Hamilton today to split the Mercedes on the podium.

But there were a few other stories today worth a mention.  We saw another spectacular Renault-engine BBQ, the world collectively holding its breath until Kyvat emerged from his burning car (which he had managed to steer off the track before the fire took hold).  And oddly enough we didnt see a safety car at all, despite significant track obstructions at time - ranging from bodywork on the hair-pin to a Sauber stranded in the middle of the track just past the final turn.  One wag on twiter suggested there had been an asteroid landed on the back straight, but race control had said that the marshalls could retrieve it under double waved yellow!

It was a shame for Lotus also with Grosjean experiencing what sounded on team radio like "... a loss of poo-er..." that saw his car once again stranded on the side of the track late in the race.  And of course the big incident off the start where Massas Williams was briefly upside down before righting itself and allowing a slightly wobbly Massa to emerge unscathed. 

So F1 moves on to Hungary next weekend for what should be another cracking race.  The Williams could almost challenge the Mercedes on pace, but behind them it seems some of the upgrades that have come through for teams like McLaren and Ferrari are starting to close the gap.  Could we see a Ferrari on the podium in Hungary??

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2019 Calendar

RaceGrand PrixRace Day
1AustraliaSunday 17 March
2BahrainSunday 31 March
3ChinaSunday 14 April
4AzerbaijanSunday 28 April
5SpainSunday 12 May
6MonacoSunday 26 May
7CanadaSunday 9 June
8FranceSunday 23 June
9AustriaSunday 30 June
10Great BritainSunday 14 July
11GermanySunday 28 July
12HungarySunday 4 August
13BelgiumSunday 1 September
14ItalySunday 8 September
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