JULY 26, 2014
Silly season strikes F1 throughout 2014 grid
The unofficial silly season has officially hit F1, as talk of a move to Mercedes for world champion Sebastian Vettel buzzes the paddock.
The rumour went full circle in the space of a couple of days, with Mercedes' Niki Lauda trying his best on Friday to bring it to a swift halt.
But Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko suggested to Sport Bild that he doesn't necessarily believe Lauda did not make a move for the German driver.
"Unfortunately, Niki has three opinions: one in the morning, one at noon and one in the evening," he said.
Silly season is, however, not limited to the front of the grid, even though Force India's Vijay Mallya said he wants to keep Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez.
"We have options on both," the Indian said on Friday. "I'm very happy with both of them and I see no reason why we should be looking at any change."
There is also movement right at the back of the grid, although Briton Max Chilton expects to keep his well-funded seat at Marussia.
"I'm confident I'll be here next year," he said.
But his teammate Jules Bianchi is in a slightly different situation, as he is backed by the might of Ferrari and looking to finally make a step up the grid for 2015.
"I can stay at Marussia," the Frenchman told RMC Sport, "but there could also be other good opportunities.
"The goal for me is to fight more regularly for points," said Bianchi. "I'm just trying to do a good job on the track.
"(Manager) Nicolas (Todt) is working on it, Ferrari as well, and I trust them."
One of the keys to the midfield silly-season could be Romain Grosjean, who may join partners Renault and Total in leaving Lotus should the Enstone team switch to Mercedes power.
The new engine deal has not yet been announced, but Frenchman Grosjean told reporters his future is not necessarily tied to the eventual outcome.
"I am 98, 99 per cent sure that next season Lotus will be better than it is now, and I'm not just talking about the power unit," he said.
Grosjean grinned throughout as reporters reeled off the names of potential 2015 employers.
What about Formula E? "Not an option!" he exclaimed. "Sorry, but I need gasoline!"
Most likely, perhaps, is a move to McLaren, now run by his former manager Eric Boullier.
Asked what their relationship is like today, Grosjean explained: "Friendship. We not only see each other in the paddock, but sometimes we spend time together.
"But this doesn't mean that I am one step closer to McLaren. Friendship is one thing, business is quite another."
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