Monza: Formula One’s silly season has become more like European football’s transfer window with every passing year.
Just as the top clubs and top players jostle work for the best deals for their futures, so do the top teams and drivers.
The only difference is that football has a deadline.
F1, however, has Monza — the traditional unofficial race meeting at which most of the main ‘transfers’ are completed or confirmed.
Down the years, the Italian Grand Prix has been the scene of many major announcements — including Ayrton Senna’s move from Lotus to McLaren as Alain Prost’s partner, Nigel Mansell’s angry confirmation that he was to leave Williams on learning that Prost was on his way and Michael Schumacher’s infamous overnight switch from Jordan, after just one race, to join Benetton.
And that is just a brief example picked from the early 1990’s.
This year is no different.
The drivers’ market, as so often, appears to be in a state of suspended animation as Kimi Raikkonen waits to make a decision — choosing, it seems, between staying with Lotus or moving on.
Red Bull, despite contradictions all round, McLaren and Ferrari all await his next move with great interest and so too do Daniel Ricciardo, Jenson Button and Felipe Massa.
Lotus believe they have the package to offer that will make him stay.
But the fact that Red Bull have been reluctant to confirm Australian Ricciardo as Mark Webber’s successor suggests they have not yet abandoned hopes of luring the Finn.
Indeed, this week Lotus made clear they feel they have no problems in offering a financial deal to secure Raikkonen’s continued services into 2014, but have to work harder to convince him that they can build a winning car.
Team owner Gerard Lopez this week revealed that Raikkonen cares more about his car’s performance than the money on offer and has pushed Lotus to work more closely with Renault as F1 enters a new era with an overhaul of the technical regulations.