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F1 - THE GREAT BIG WHIRLYGIG

 

  Well it’s that time of the year again. The equinox has arrived, witches are brewing their potions, druids are prancing around the stones ,occultists everywhere are gazing at their crystals and the annual F1 silly season is in full swing. Except that this year it is on overdrive. With turbos and superchargers on full song. Going into the summer break everything seemed to be quietly settled for another bout of steady conservatism. And then four days later Danny Boy threw a sizable spanner into everyone’s works.

 

  With all the details worked out to Ricciardo’s precise requirements regarding money, length of contract, non-race activities etc he phones Mr Horner out of the blue and says I am going to Renault. Horner thinks this is Danny pulling his finger (or some other part of his anatomy) but gradually realises he is serious. This deal then buggers up the plans of both Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon who were both angling for the second Renault seat. Ocon’s position got a lot worse a few weeks later when Lance Stroll’s daddy bought Force India from the administrators. Daddy would have been unlikely to stump up the necessary readies to buy the team unless he was going to plonk his pride and joy into one of the seats next year. Or even this year. As Sergio Perez had already signed a contract for 2019 and brings muchos pesos it became pretty obvious that Esteban needed to find somewhere else to park his extremely talented tushy. King Fernando then gives these chaps a lifeline by deciding that, as he had decided a few months ago, he couldn’t be arsed trolling around at the back for another year and that at least one year in Indycars and another crack at the 500 would be much more fun. And it appears that McLaren are happy to pay him to do just that. So fun and dosh, doesn’t get much better than that.

 

  Perhaps Carlos would go back to Red Bull and reignite his (not so) happy relationship with Mad Max. Nope, the afore mentioned Mr Horner announces that Pierre Gasly will step up from reserve grade to the top team and Carlos’s contract says he ain’t goin back to Toro Rosso. King Fernando seems to have put in a good word and bingo, Carlos is confirmed with McLaren. So Stroll is off to Racing Point Force India, but when? Will that take place this year and leave Esteban sitting on his thumb? If he does, will Robert Kubica realize that fairy-tale and get a race drive with Williams this year? Will he get a promotion for next year? Will he get screwed over by another rookie with wads of cash/Roubles? It has been suggested that GP2/F2 stalwart Artem Markelov might be able to pinch that ride but will Markelov’s and Sirotkin’s Russian sponsors clash and force one of them out of the team as well? Ocon’s week gets worse when both McLaren and Toro Rosso say that they would not employ him while he still holds a Mercedes development contract and the view is that with Williams loosing their Martini sponsorship, they will need way more cash than Mercedes is willing to spend to buy Ocon that drive. This sorta sucks as Ocon is one of those guys that everyone expects to be World Champion one day. But seemingly not one day soon.

 

  A bit like Charles Leclerc. He is going to Ferrari. Ferrari boss dies and Leclerc is staying at Sauber as the new Ferrari boss is a mate of Kimi’s and Kimi is having a pretty good year actually. Or perhaps they will honour the old boss’s desire after all. So if Charles does go to Ferrari, what does Kimi do? Back to Sauber has been suggested, but what does that then do to Antonio Giovinazzi’s prospects. Ferrari only gets to place one driver at Sauber and Ericsson’s sponsors own the team so…….Maybe McLaren could rehire Kimi and get him to join King Fernando in their Indycar team. That’d actually be pretty cool, what about it Zak? And back to McLaren. Norris gets an FP1 session at Spa and impresses while Vandoorne has another shocker of a weekend. Even King Fernando says this is not his fault and that he is actually driving very well but just being let down by his machinery. As McLaren then decide to change his chassis, he may well be right. But then just after Monza Norris is confirmed as the number two to Sainz as if McLaren did not place him in some F1 seat next year they would have lost their contractual hold on him and they consider at this point that he is a better long term option that Vandoorne. Who was their better long term option over Kevin Magnussen just 18 short months ago. Not that I am against Lando but lets hope Stoffel can prove them wrong. He has such huge talent and being thrown into the trash bin so early is one of those things that shows just what is wrong with F1 these days. A bit like Ocon really.

 

  Sam Snape

 

  6-9-2018

 

  Postscript

 

  Of course just a few days after writing this came the news that Charles Leclerc is in fact heading to Ferrari and Kimi to Sauber in a straight swap. That would seem to leave Giovinazzi squatting in the merde. Unless it was Marcus’s backers that wanted Kimi and then……Still it buggers my idea for a McLaren super-team in Indycars. Oh well.