Montezemolo brushes off “unfounded gossip” about Alonso and Raikkonen

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Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has dismissed speculation surrounding the future of drivers Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, calling it “unfounded gossip”.

After another difficult season at Maranello, paddock rumors have suggested that Alonso could be set to return to McLaren in the near future. Raikkonen has openly admitted that he is likely to retire from F1 at the end of next season, sparking speculation that he could be dropped at the end of the season to make way for a fresh line-up.

When speaking to Ferrari’s official website, Montezemolo dismissed the speculation and underlined his faith in both Alonso and Raikkonen.

“We are lucky to have two great champions, who are working with the whole team to get back to being competitive again,” the marque’s president said. “Of course, as is the case every summer, there is unfounded gossip about alleged problems with senseless rumours bandied about, such as the ones relating to Alonso’s contract or those of drivers’ salaries.”

According to a report in the German press, Alonso was looking to extend his Ferrari contract to 2019 if the team agreed to double his salary. However, Montezemolo believes that this story is typical of the summer break and ‘silly season’.

“We know that the summer heat always produces silly stories,” he said. “Our drivers must now relax in order to return in top form. The season is still long and we need Fernando and Kimi to be in great shape.

“And on the subject of Kimi, I wish him all the best as he is soon to become a dad.”

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.