Prime & Option: the week in review, August 19

The near future still plagues Formula 1, as 2014 continues to dominate the headlines as our summer break comes to a close. Niki Lauda weighed in on the Fernando Alonso to Red Bull rumors, Sauber’s Russian backers are not yet fully committed, and Pirelli does not have a contract for next season. Thankfully, teams have begun previewing this weekend’s upcoming Belgian Grand Prix, while two current Formula 1 circuits have also added to the upswing in F1 news, unlike last week where the only thing we heard about involved next season.

What to Happen in 2014? (Silly Season Lives On)
Most importantly, there is no contract for Pirelli to continue to supply tyres to F1 teams for next season. According to Paul Hembery, “We have cooperation from teams, cooperation with promoters and ongoing cooperation from the FIA, so until someone tells us something different we don’t see what we should do differently,” but still no official contract with Formula 1 to supply tyres for the series next season.

Lauda continues to speak his mind, noting that Alonso at Red Bull would be a bad idea with possible clashes between the Spaniard and Sebastian Vettel. Lauda also indicates that Pirelli was interested in making a wider and taller tyre for 2014, but the FIA felt the timing too late for next season.

Sauber has not yet received the cash flow expected from the team’s new Russian backers. Not only has the board of the Russian National Institute of Aviation Technologies voted against actually investing in the team, rumor indicates that Russian President Vladimir Putin has also withheld his approval of the partnership.

Silverstone and Valencia Make Waves
It is still unclear who bought the  Silverstone circuit, but someone or some conglomeration did. According to a BRDC member, “A deal has been done on Silverstone. I don’t know who bought it and I don’t know what the terms are, but it is absolutely categoric that a deal has been done.” Apparently, Bernie Ecclestone will meet with the new owners at some point this week. He may or may not release their identity then or sometime in the future.

Meanwhile, Valencia no longer wishes to be on the F1 calendar. The cost of continuing as a F1 race venue (27 million Euros per year, with the cost likely to increase each year) is, in the grand scheme of things, barely less than that of the single payment (33 million Euros) buying the circuit out of its contract.

Lotus Unsure About Updates for Second Half of 2013
As teams begin focusing on developing cars for the next season, upgrades become fewer and farther between for the latter half of the current season. As Lotus has fresh updates for this weekend’s race at Spa and many of the other teams seem likely to focus instead on next season, Eric Boullier is confident that his team can fight for podium positions in the championship and leapfrog Ferrari in the points.

Symonds Left Marussia Better Than He Found It
Despite jumping off to Williams Pat Symonds insists that he left Marussia, not in a developmental fix, but with important plans in place to continue improving in pace and race form. Team President Graeme Lowdon noted, “Pat left in place with us is a very good technical structure and we have always had some very good and really talented people here.”

{note: F1B’s typical qualifying and race coverage will be interrupted as I am taking the weekend off for personal business. Todd will replace me this weekend and look for the typical novella-length qualifying recaps and Grand Prix Reduxs to return as usual with the race weekend at Monza}

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