The season gets silly

August is a good month in Formula One if you enjoy the often whimsically wild and speculative annual 'silly season.' Every year, drivers' contracts run out and their reported direction is often the work of a carefully contrived plot, but where truth can also be as strange as fiction.

Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Felipe Massa and Nick Heidfeld are among the sharp end of the action this time.

24-year-old Massa, managed by a very well connected Frenchman, is en route to Ferrari to fill Rubens Barrichello's shoes, a solid whisper insists, although the Brazilian also sees himself linked with BMW's new incarnation.

''Don't ask me to comment on speculation,'' boss Jean Todt, who said there is 'no plan' for to test Massa, replied.

Barrichello is solidly linked to BAR, to the point that a contract may even have been signed. ''I think he is a very good driver,'' said mate and 'sporting director' Gil de Ferran. ''Our drivers are also very good.''

The Brackley based F1 team also vowed to stay out of Jenson Button's contractual wrangle with Sir Frank Williams.

Nick Fry said: ''The two contractees need to sort it out. We've made it clear that we'd love to have him stay.'' By far the wildest rumor so far is that Massa may have a rival for Rubens' scarlet seat — a 34-year-old from Scotland. ''David (Coulthard) will be driving a Ferrari in 2006,'' team principal Christian Horner smilingly retorted, ''but it will be a Red Bull Ferrari.''

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