Formula 1 silly season now in full swing

How many from the 'Class of 2014'will be on the grid next year?

How many from the ‘Class of 2014’will be on the grid next year?

Formula 1’s notorious, and inevitably headline grabbing, silly season is now in full flight, as talk of a move to Mercedes for world champion Sebastian Vettel buzzes the paddock in Budapest.

The report 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 Helmut Marko suggested to Sport Bild that he doesn’t necessarily believe that 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,” said the straight talking Marko.

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.

Sebastian Vettel listens to Niki Lauda during a TV show

Sebastian Vettel listens to Niki Lauda during a TV show

“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, he would only say, “I’m confident that I’ll be here next year.”

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. [My manager] Nicolas [Todt] is working on it, Ferrari as well, and I trust them.”

Where to for Romain Grosjean in 2015?

Where to for Romain Grosjean in 2015?

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 that 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 [they are] 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, one asked what about Formula E? “Not an option! Sorry, but I need gasoline!”

Most likely, perhaps, is a move to McLaren, now run by his former manager Eric Boullier.

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button where will they be in 2015?

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button where will they be in 2015?

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.”

Also in the background is speculation over the future of both Ferrari drivers, with Fernando Alonso linked with a switch back to McLaren, while Kimi Raikkonen’s future is debatable in the light of a poor showing upon his return to Ferrari where he has been trounced by his teammate.

McLaren are known to be hunting for a big name, most likely to replace Jenson Button, and Alonso is not the only one on their radar as Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have also been linked to the Woking outfit.

Down the order, Sauber are enduring one of the least successful seasons in their history. Esteban Gutierrez seems likely to stay on thanks to the substantial Mexican backing he brings to the team, but Adrian Sutil’s future is less clear as he has done little to enhance his reputation in his first year with the Swiss team. (GMM)