Hello again

I apologise that I couldn’t make our last session. I caught a very nasty virus.


Oh god no – not that bloody tedious covid thingy. Much worse. Russian porn spammers managed to hack into my c-panel and created a sub-domain which was pumping out naughty emails.

Took ages to get over that. Mind you, I was very relieved that “unrasiertem teengirl” didn’t mean what I thought it might.

Anyway, all better now and we’re not here to talk about me.

How do you think things have been going since our last chat?


What do you mean by that?

Yes I remember Twin Peaks. What the giant said to Cooper? Ah yeah – “It’s happening again” Yep I get you.Gasly soaks up the emotions at Monza

Mmmm 2016 does seem a long time ago. The last time that Lewis was seriously challenged. Even so you’ve got to admit he has been in imperious form. Well yes, there has been a bit of luck, but five wins from the last eight races is not just down to luck, nor six poles. And all eight starts on the front row. He is just at a level that Bottas can only occasionally match. I’ll concede that winning on three wheels at Silverstone was lucky but the rest? Of course Bottas was unlucky where on the track he lost his tyre that day but he was never going to beat Lewis. Or at most of the other races, and he never should have finished behind Max in Spain. When he’s on form he can be unbeatable but he’s just not as relentless as Lewis, there’s not many that are.

 Well there is Max I suppose. Hasn’t finished off the podium so far and that win at Silverstone was right out of the top drawer wasn’t it? Apart from the two retirements in Italy he has totally maxed (yep pun intended) the potential of that car. Hasn’t done Alex any favours. Unfortunately his race performances seem to be dropping off now and that used to be his saving grace. He just can’t seem to put it together in qually can he? I mean, only twice on row two while Max has only been lower than row two twice. Mugello apart, and that was a pretty weird race, his results have been drifting downward all year, and only tenth in Russia? Good grief Charlie Brown. An even worse race at the Nonburgring, only in the top six for a few laps and then clattering into others, just not good enough, was it? Have you noticed that Christian’s supportive comments seem to be disappearing and now Helmut is hinting at the Hulk being a possibility. Apparently he has until Turkey to show a marked upturn in form but, and I hate to say it, I’m just not sure he has it in him at the moment. He seems thoroughly demoralized, although I think he has the talent to be in F1 but it is a cruel world for Red Rag drivers. Just ask Danii. Not entirely sure I like his chances either. Oh, you hear that Red Rag are thinking of taking the Honda engine in-house in ’22 now that Honda are bailing out again? Apparently it all depends on an engine freeze coming into effect that year or not. They’ll have to decide fairly shortly as they will need to know if it’s Honda or Renault before they start work on the ’22 cars design. And of course Renault will need some time to ramp up to supply two more teams.


Speaking of whom, haven’t Renault been coming on strong lately. Danny boy has scored more points since Spa that anyone except the Merc lads. And after his podium last time out Cyril now must decide just where he gets his painful piece of body art. What do you reckon it will be? Honey badger in lederhosen drinking from a race boot? I do hope we get to see whatever the final result will be. Dan’s another one not doing his team-mate any favours this year isn’t he? Ten to one ahead in qually and nine to two in the races. More than twice as many points as Esteban so far. I remember some clot in the pre-season suggesting that Ocon would destroy Danny’s reputation. I wonder if Cyril now thinks it was such a good idea to drop the Hulk. And hasn’t he just produced some super performances while subbing for Racing Point. Third on the grid at Silverstone was simply stunning. And things aren’t about to get any easier for Esteban when King Fernando returns next year. Another one for utter relentlessness is the old royal. Those four are probably worst team-mates you could have as they will just grind you down in the end.


 A few years ago you might have added Vettel to that list but now? Seb is lucky that we don’t still have the points system they used in the 70’s and 80’s. He would have scored just 1, single, solitary point so far. Seventeen sounds much better. Mind you, Charlie’s sixty three shows just what a crap season Seb is having. Never finished in tenth before in his career and he has done it three times already this year. Just one point since Spain and that was six races ago. In that time he has been outscored by Raikkonen and Grosjean, and matched by Giovinazzi, all in cars with the same rubbish motor and whose teams are operating with budgets hundreds of millions of dollars less than Ferrari. Not entirely sure I understand Aston Martin/Racing Points decision to dump Perez for him but maybe he’ll prove me wrong. It has been known, you know. Me being wrong that is.


 One thing I am most definitely not wrong about though is the undoubted feel good high point of the last fourteen months or so. After being demoted by Red Rag and then losing his close friend, Antoine Hubert, in the space of about a month, you could have forgiven Pierre Gasly to go through a Danii type downward spiral. Instead he dusted himself down and fought back hard. His podium in Brazil may have been handed to him via Lewis KO’ing poor Albon but winning the Italian GP at Monza, while mildly fortuitous, showed just what a talent he is. Seeing him sitting alone on the podium after all the others had left, just soaking it all in, was what all sport is really about. I cannot even begin to comprehend the range of emotions he must have been experiencing, but I know what mine were. And yes, I shed a few tears of joy for the kid. Whether or not he will ever be allowed the opportunity again, or if the history books will consign it as a weird fluke, it was one of the most wonderful, wonderful moments in any sporting contest in history.


Isn’t it nice that the TV directors have moved on from the 80’s when they would just show the leaders churning round and around? These days we do get to see that almighty midfield brawl that has been enthralling this year. Eleven races in and from Danny in fourth to Sainz in eleventh place is just 27 points. There is just four points between Perez, Norris, Albon and Leclerc. Six points between Racing Point, McLaren and Renault. Apart from the top three, seven drivers have made the podium so far this year. You just never know which of those teams will hit the sweet spot at each race although Ferrari is still sliding out of that group. With Alpha Tauri just 13 points behind it could well end up that the lowest three points scoring teams could all be using the Ferrari engines.


Unless Williams scrapes a point or two. On which topic, it was sad to have to say toodle-pip to Sir Frank who was one of the most highly regarded fellows in the paddock. A constant for over fifty years, from the early days of customer cars and a shoestring budget, to the pomp and glory of the 80’s and 90’s and the eventual slow slide, Williams was probably the team that everyone, always, wanted to be competitive. He was, well still is, it’s not as if he has carked it, a sort of latter day Ken Tyrrell.  Lets hope that the new owners can bring the team back to the right end of the grid and build on his great heritage.


Sam Snape


14-10 2020.






Eight time champion already?And breath out…………




  OK now, the first three races are done in just seventeen days, how does this make you feel?


  Yes I know you were happy, euphoric even, but deep down, when you look back at it in detail, perhaps we should look at your emotions one at a time.


I agree, Lewis has very probably won his eighth world championship taking into account Merc’s utter dominance and that there will be no new designs in 2021. Barring a miracle or tragedy he will likely as not crack the 100 wins too, perhaps even before this season is out. Can’t really see anyone seriously challenging the silver..err…black slings in the short term. Yes, now you mention it, they do remind me of how the Saubers looked in 93 and 94. You find this prospect as about as exciting as Ferrari ordering Barrichello to slow in Austria that year so the great underwhelming one could notch up his fifth straight win to start the year. Wasn’t even much chance for an intra team battle then was there? More chance now? Hard to say, but probably not. As nice a lad, and as cracking a driver as VB is, he is just that tiny bit behind Lewis over all. No I agree, he has his days all right, his first races this year and last were superb but he just doesn’t appear to be able to perform at that level all the time. As Toto said, great wing man. If Lewis doesn’t get you, Valtteri will. No, no again, I agree, the Men in Black won’t be nearly as crass as Ferrari were then but even so. And this is leaving you feeling a little deflated.



  And Ferrari. You think that if they design an engine that is within the regulations then it has all the pace of a leper in a swamp. A bit harsh, after all we don’t know that last years was a 21 litre quad turbo supercharged V16 now do we? Sure, it went like one but the FIA won’t say so, and Ferrari sure won’t admit to it so I guess we will never know. Bit of a slug now though, no, not even Charlie can make it look quick can he? And they effectively sacked Seb before the season even started. Yeah, I know, great way to motivate one of your drivers to stick to the script. Still, they’ve only crashed into each other once and even that didn’t cost them too many points. Hell they couldn’t even out qualify the Renaults and an Alpha Tauri that day, so no, not a rosy outlook for the next eighteen months. Wonder how Sainz is feeling about that now. So this is leaving you feeling a little more deflated. Hmmm.


  Yes, the Red Rag does appear to be flapping in the breeze a bit so far, I agree. Almost on the pace in the mountains, but in Hungary, where you would expect to see one of Newey’s cars excel, they were all over the shop, weren’t they? And Max stacking into the barriers on the formation lap, yeah bloody hilarious. Great job by his crew though. New nose and suspension fitted while on the grid waiting for the start, brilliant. And yes, they both did a nice job in the race but the ultimate pace just isn’t there at the moment. With their respective car performance Max should never have stayed in front of VB but Valtteri was just having one of those not great days. Alex needs to lift his game in qualifying you say. Damned fine on race day but starting too far back? Probably, I hope he gets the time he needs. Ha ha ha, yes, there are shades of Gasly. When Horner starts repeatedly stating his confidence in you, you do seem to be on unsteady ground. And Danii yes. Still there is cause for hope here isn’t there? Adrian usually gets the car sorted out in the end.


  Enjoying McLaren’s resurgence are you? Young Lando had a blinder in the first Austrian race, didn’t he. First podium and first fastest lap, could hardly contain himself after the race could he? Both cars in Q3 for all the races so far. Well they’ve obviously got a nice chassis under them and if they can successfully mate the Mercedes engine into it next year, things really could be looking up. Even with the Renault engine they are miles ahead of the Ferraris, not sure if Carlos is happy about that or not. Mmmm perhaps, maybe he should just rejoice in the moment. Let the future take care of itself you reckon. Not entirely sure Danny Ric would agree at the moment. Ocon’s qualifying at Styria aside, Renault’s form is only marginally better than Ferrari at the moment being just in, or outside the top ten in qualy and three eighth placings as race results. Not good enough for a factory squad, you think. No, I think you are right. Methinks Danny is rejoicing in the future and dealing with the moment as best as he can. Do you believe that Alonso can whip them into shape? No OK, he didn’t at McLaren but really, that Honda engine was about as powerful as, well, this years Ferrari, and short of having a Red Rag in front of it, the Renault motor wasn’t outstanding either. Will be nice to have him back though, just hope he doesn’t spend too much time in deck chairs.


  Ah yes, I was wondering when you would come to the Pink Panthers. Done a bloody nice job of copying last years Merc haven’t they? No, personally I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that. So long as they did it within the rules I mean. Hell, copying someone else’s ideas is as old as the sport itself. You do, do you? Ah well, we can always agree to disagree. Mind you, if they do get pinged, it will be a nasty time for both them and the Men in Black. If Mercedes actually provided them with their designs for the listed parts they will both be in the bottomless excrement, won’t they? Showed glimpses in Austria but they were damned fast in Hungary. No, I can’t either, I’d need to check to see when the last time anyone but the big three locked out the second row. Yeah, if Lance can keep up that sort of form it might make daddy’s decision a bit easier. The one about Seb I mean. It’s all a bit tricky isn’t it? The word is that they will have to break their contract with Sergio by Friday if they want to do it relatively cheaply. Seb is probably wanting to see how Renault’s protest about the Pink Mercedes goes before committing and well, if it was up too me, I’d keep Sergio. Wellll… a couple of reasons. Sergio has been the rock at that team for years, very loyal and has gotten everything out of their package that has been possible. Seb might bring a winning mentality to the team, which I will agree is probably lacking at the moment, but I think any assessment of his career will show he is not really a team player is he? Now, now, no need for that kind of language, I’m only trying to help. No, I hope so too. I like the pink livery but a pink Aston Martin? Just not the done thing, old man. And hey, winning can also bring it’s own winning mentality, just look at Williams in ’79. Didn’t need to bring in a world champion to turn them into a champion team did it?


  And the rest? Oh about where you would expect you think. Given the Ferrari engine at the moment you can’t see anything but Alfa Romeo and Haas fighting Williams at the rear of the grid. No, probably not, although I am happy that Williams qualifying performances have improved markedly. Both in Q2 last week and Russell only just missing out on Q3 for the last two races. Considering they were lucky to be within two seconds off their nearest rivals last year this fills me with joy. Now if only they can do something about their race pace. What, you think Sergio will end up at either Alfa Romeo or Haas next year if Seb wants an Aston in his garage. Yeah, well he has historical ties with both in one way or another. He drove for Alfa in it’s Sauber guise and his sponsor poured money into Haas when Gutierrez was there so yes, I could see that. There is another possibility. If Alex does get Gasly’d at Red Rag, I could just see Sergio slotting in there given his form and they would be happy for the Telmex cash as they will be losing Aston Martin as a sponsor. Horrible feeling that it would possibly be a bit like VB at Merc though. A great wing man.


  Ah the endless speculation. What keeps you going really isn’t it?


  Well that’s it for this session, I’m afraid time is up.


  Now take a deep breath in because the next three races start on Friday.


  Make another appointment with nursie on the way out.


Sam Snape






For full results go to http://www.mmmsport.com.au/index.php/2020-database/f1-races/f1-races-2020-29/2020-f1




  Since the last draught calendar a couple of weeks ago, the British GP has been on again, off again, perhaps moved and then on again. More movement than a sex workers knickers in this time of social distancing. But the FIA has now released what they call a definitive first eight rounds of the season – unless it changes.


They now are;


5 July - Austrian GP


12 July - Styrian GP


19 July - Hungarian GP


2 August - British GP


9 August - Formula 1 70th Anniversary GP (Silverstone)


16 August - Spanish GP


30 August - Belgian GP


6 September - Italian GP


  The 2nd race at the Red Bull Ring will now be known as the Styrian GP – which is what the Germans call this area of Austria and the 2nd Silverstone race will be known as the somewhat grandiose Formula 1 70th Anniversary GP which is also inaccurate as the first World Championship GP was held on May 13 not August 9. Although it is at the same track, errrr, sort of. There is almost nothing left of the original Silverstone layout except the ground on which it sits. Still…It is a bit of a pity though as I sort of think that a nod to a more historical name that relates to formula one races at Silverstone, such as the International Trophy may have been more appropriate. Certainly easier on the tongue. Perhaps the British Empire Trophy may not have been seen as politically correct these days.


  The rest of the season is still so far up in the air that you would need a telescope to see it clearly. I would doubt that with their current levels of mortality from the TBV that anyone in F1 would want to chance their lives in the US, Mexico or Brazil. Japan is still mostly shut down so it is unlikely and unless Singapore gets the OK from its government, the cost of the fly-away races in China and Vietnam may outweigh the benefits of an Asian leg. Bahrain and a double header at Abu Dhabi (yawn) look possible or maybe even probable in late November to early December but if America and Asia get canned what fills the void. Russia is talking of two races and both Hockenheim and Imola are still being rumoured, although Russia is not fairing much better than the USA so…..


  There is even the possibility that the eight European races will be the sum total of the season with Ross Brawn’s comments today that "In theory the eight European races will constitute a world championship,".


  Regarding the fly-aways he said, "It is a challenge, but I think it was a challenge putting the European season together, two or three weeks ago, a month ago, it looked impossible. But now we've got a decent calendar put together. I think this situation changes on an almost daily basis. In the main it's getting better, but there are still some countries which are going through the worst, so we need to give them time to see how quickly they are able to recover. Mexico is one where they still want to have a race, but they are in the throes of the pandemic at the moment.”


"With the extra time we'll have now before we have to make some hard decisions then we'll just let things evolve, and see where we are. There's various options. I think we're going to be able to put a decent season together. I can't honestly tell you what shape it will be, but I think there will be enough races to make a good season."


  Clear as a day of bad air quality in Beijing.


  But hey – only four weeks to go – weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…..I hope.


Sam Snape





  Some days I get confused. Due to this TBV (tedious bloody virus) the summer break is in spring and before the season actually starts. As is usual during the summer break drivers and teams have sneaky chats in dark rooms about who might wish to go where and which where might want to have whom. Clear?


  This doesn’t usually happen before the upcoming season kicks off. It’s a bit like choosing who, what and where for next year in January. Well OK, maybe early March, because at least the great and good have tested in February and have some vague idea of which where works and which where may have needed to do some catching up. But only vague, because after testing the standard refrain is that “we will need to wait for Melbourne to really know where we stand”.


  So with no-one really knowing where who what and where stand one would usually expect that decisions about who might wish to go where and which where might want to have whom would not be made until much later in the piece. See? Confusing. But with this season already being confusing, the Great Big Whirlygig has already begun to spin. And it has begun with a drama and pace that would make any F1 car proud of it’s launch control. Except launch control doesn’t exist any more….


  One of the things that the TBV has done is make all those sneaky chats in dark rooms be sneakier and in much more darker rooms than any previous because none of those pesky journo types have been about to poke their devious snouts around the corner at an inopportune moment for those of a sneaky disposition. IE; there have not been very many leaks about sneaky chats taking place. So when just two short days ago we learnt that Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel “didn't share the same goals, short or long-term goals" and that there was "no longer a common desire to stay together" it came as a bit of a surprise. Or did it? Sebastian has been driving ( in testing & racing) F1 cars for 16 years now and rumours of an upcoming retirement have been wafting about for a couple of years at least. Like most F1 drivers, he also has a history of not much liking it when he has been teamed with someone who is potentially quicker than himself. He was pretty quick to chuck Red Bull when he was soundly beaten by Ricciardo in 2014. With Leclerc, after his impressive season last year, being given a long term contract and Ferrari offering Seb just a single year deal, it probably gave him a good idea of just which side of the garage their efforts would flow. So where to for Vettel now? Can’t see Verstappen or Hamilton accepting him into their teams or Vettel wanting to risk his reputation by taking on either in their own dens. Can’t see him wanting to troll around in the mid-field either so perhaps like his childhood idol, he will be forced into retirement earlier than he would have wished.


  Or perhaps he could end up as Danny Ric’s replacement at Renault. Immediately after the Ferrari announcement the rumours were flying that either Carlos Sainz or Ricciardo would be his replacement at Ferrari and just 48 or so hours later it was announced that Ricciardo was giving up on his Renault sojourn and joining McLaren on a “multi-year” deal and Sainz was indeed heading to Ferrari. These deals don’t just happen in two days so their had already been plenty of sneaky chats in dark rooms taking place. Another possibility is a return of King Fernando to the team he took to two championships in a different guise some while back in the Flavio days. Or maybe Renault will once again pull the plug on an underperforming endeavour in a time of financial insecurity. It would not be the first, or even second time, that has happened.


  Some may see Sainz’s move to Ferrari to be a safe option for Ferrari and Leclerc but Sainz has an enhanced reputation as a development driver after his stint at McLaren and those of us with slightly longer memories recall that his speed against Verstappen wasn’t too bad at all. And that Max’s move to Red Bull from Toro Rosso was as much to stop the inter-team friction and separate the two as much as any comment on the form of the unfortunate Daniil Kvyat who went the other way. One way or another Carlos has a lot to gain from this move and I for one would not bet against him enhancing his reputation even further. 


  Ricciardo’s signing with McLaren after just one racing season cannot be seen as anything but his realisation that the Renault thing was just not likely to work out as he had hoped. After all he had been looking with considerable interest at McLaren prior to signing with Renault. But McLaren’s recent upswing in performance allied to the chance to get his hands on a Mercedes engine in 2021 must have been the most enticing option if he didn’t fit into Ferrari’s vision of the future. A return to Red Bull was never likely and Mercedes has been a much happier team since Rosberg departed and Hamilton hasn’t had to worry too much about any inter-team battle. So with Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull all having settled and balanced line-ups what were Ricciardo’s options?


Staying with a Renault squad he was unconvinced with? Joining the other mid-field star performer, Racing Point/Aston Martin, who probably could not afford him? Or joining McLaren who are probably best placed to have the package, especially from 2022 onwards, to allow him to get back to the front.  




Sam Snape 14/5 2020                  



  Entirely depending, of course, that the numbers of people dropping off from this tedious virus reduces from like flies to a moderately acceptable number and the world begins to return to some form of normality, the FIA has sent out a provisional calendar for the remains of the 2020 season.


  If approved, for the F1 teams this will mean that 19 Grand Prix will be squeezed into the 23 weeks from July 3 to December 13. The Formula 2 season will initially be equally hectic with 10 events in 12 weeks before having a break until the final 2 rounds in December. The Formula 3 season will replicate this with the first 8 rounds matching the others over a nine week period and again the last 2 rounds in December as well.


  At this point Hockenheim is on standby in case the British GP at Silverstone cannot go ahead and many of the races that were on the original schedule are now to be cancelled outright such as the Australian, Dutch, Monaco, French and Singapore GPs. Three circuits will hold twin races on consecutive weekends. Those are in Austria, Britain/Hockenheim and Bahrain.


The proposed calendar looks like this;


3-5 July Austrian GP (F2, F3)


10-12 July Austrian GP-2 (F2, F3)


24-26 July British GP/Hockenheim (F2, F3)


31 July-2 August British GP-2/Hockenheim-2 (F2, F3)


7-9 August Hungarian GP (F2, F3)


21-23 August Spanish GP (F2, F3)


28-30 August Belgian GP (F2, F3)


4-6 September Italian GP (F2, F3)


18-20 September Azerbaijan GP (F2)


25-27 September Russian GP (F2)


2-4 October Chinese GP


9-11 October Japanese GP


23-25 October United States GP


30 October-1 November Mexican GP


8 November Brazilian GP


22 November Vietnam GP


29 November Bahrain GP


6 December Bahrain GP-2 (F2, F3)


13 December Abu Dhabi GP (F2, F3)

Sam Snape 14-5 2020