Prior to last weekend's British Grand Prix, the chatter in the Silverstone paddock was all about the sale of the Caterham F1 team to unidentified investors from Dubai and Switzerland.
The first major effect of the deal was that the letters 'GE' were removed from the cars, ending a useful arrangement between former team owner Tony Fernandes and General Electric that had allowed F1 to boast that one of America’s most powerful countries was involved in the sport.
The announcement meant that Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul was free to go and he was duly snapped up by Renault to replace the head of the French firm’s F1 engine division Jean-Michel Jalinier. The latter has been wandering around with an invisible target painted on his back since this year’s Renault V6 F1 engine first appeared and was blown into the weeds by the Mercedes version of the same motor.
In recent years Jalinier had enjoyed being top dog in the F1 engine world thanks to Renault’s alliance with the triumphant Infiniti Red Bull Racing, but when things turned sour he decided to retire. Some felt that this was perhaps not the full story and that it was more likely that he had been led away and metaphorically shot behind the garages…
In the world of automobile executives, failure in Formula 1 is rarely a good option.
Some preferred to discuss the more sensational reports from Luxembourg about the kidnapping and subsequent release of a female friend of Lotus’s team principal Gerard Lopez.
His lawyer said that the financier was a witness to events when visiting the lady’s house at close to midnight, in a small French town close to the Luxembourg border, late last month, when a pair of masked and armed men broke in and took the lady hostage.
Normally it is the rich men of the world who are the targets of kidnappers but Mr Lopez was left sitting alone. This was proof positive that if, nothing else, Formula 1 still attracts exotic people to whom weird things often happen.
There was a time in the summer season when the F1 world used to be talking at this time of year about who will drive where in 2015 but such negotiations seem less reported these days. There is action on this front but these days the contacts and discussions going on are rather more subtly handled than in bygone ages.
The strongest whisper in the paddock is that Fernando Alonso is in deep discussions with McLaren about a return to the Woking team. Alonso’s previous adventures with the team ended in acrimony back in 2007 and it seemed hard to imagine that the relationship could ever be revived but needs must. Alonso and McLaren need one another and pragmatism knows no bounds in such circumstances.
The likely victim of such a move would be Jenson Button but the rumour-mongers of F1 are beginning to wonder whether Button’s future might lie in Italy, where a new team leader is required alongside Kimi Räikkönen, or whether the Italian team will decide that it is time to bring in a newer generation to get things moving again.
Other names being discussed as potential Ferrari drivers are rising stars Nico Hulkenburg and Jules Bianchi, although some folk still think that Sebastian Vettel would look better in red than he is currently looking in Infiniti Red Bull purple…