21 August 2013
Belgian Grand Prix: Kate Walker: Return to action
Kate Walker's latest feature for Crash.net ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa
Used to keeping her eye on the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing that makes Formula One a political melodrama, Kate Walker looks ahead to the resumption of the 2013 F1 season at Spa as the summer break finally comes to an end...
In nature, certain sights and sounds mark the changing of the seasons.
Spring arrives with new buds on the trees, crocuses emerging from the ground. Summer brings with it the smell of barbecues and sun cream, while autumn is bonfires and fallen leaves.
The Formula One seasons all change in their own way – winter means testing, spring is the beginning, summer is Europe, and autumn is marked by the acquisition of more air miles than should be possible for any one human being.
But the end of the summer shutdown has its own marker. Not, as you might expect, the arrival of the first Belgian Grand Prix preview from one of the teams, but the first official denial of a summer shutdown rumour.
And so it was this week, when what had been the rumour that Red Bull had elected to sign Daniel Ricciardo over Kimi Raikkonen became quasi-fact following an admission made by the Finn's manager, Steve Robertson, that talks with the Milton Keynes racers over a 2014 drive with the team had fallen by the wayside.
August is a tough month for F1 journalists, as the major players spend the break recharging their batteries in second homes and holiday resorts around the world. In theory, phones will be answered. In practice, however, everyone needs a holiday and there's a tacit agreement among paddock people to keep the break a break.
Which is why, over the course of a few weeks, Kimi has been associated with 2014 drives at Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus, and McLaren – no one's been around to deny the rumours. So Robertson's comment that talks with Red Bull had reached an end not only implied that Bild had it spot on when they announced over the weekend that Ricciardo would be partnering Sebastian Vettel in 2014, but it also meant that the F1 summer break was well and truly finished.
The F1 circus reconvenes in Spa this weekend, and Sunday will see one of the best grands prix on the calendar. And while the race itself will dominate the headlines on Saturday and Sunday, the first part of the weekend will be filled with drama and intrigue. All of the key players in the summer shutdown rumours will be gathered in one place, denials and confirmations made face-to-face rather than down the phone.
And in a break that gave us a mini war of words between Fernando Alonso and Ferrari, Raikkonen's name linked with all manner of 2014 drives, and continued rumours surrounding Sauber's Russian salvation – to name but a few – there's a lot of intrigue to investigate.
Kate Walker is the editor of GP Week magazine and a freelance contributor to Crash.net. A member of the F1 travelling circus since 2010, she keeps an eye on the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing that makes Formula One a political melodrama.
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