A little birdie landed on my fence this morning and in the midst of it’s twittering informed me that Alex Albon has been informed that as of Friday, he will be the Red Rags test and reserve driver. Because the team has signed Sergio Perez for 2021 and beyond along side Max Verstappen. If Alex had read the tea leaves he may have guessed the jig was up when it was announced (a little surprisingly) that their existing test driver, Sebastien Buemi, who hadn’t driven in their cars since 2014, was getting a run in the end of season test. Sounded a bit to me like a “have a drive as a thanks for your years of service, but we won’t need you next year” sort of arrangement.Sakhir winner Perez joins Red Bull for 2021

  One can feel some sympathy for Alex as he had been tossed right in the deep end of the Red Bull pool when he was switched to the main team after only half a season at Torro Rosso in F1. It was always going to be a hard ask to go up against the flying Dutchman that early in his career but he never quite got to grips with Max’s pace of the cars foibles. And as Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly know, the twine that holds the sword of Damocles over your head at Red Bull is very brittle. When you look at the basic numbers it is hard to fault Red Rags decision. In qualifying Alex did not beat Max once all year. Alex’s best position was 4th on four occasions while Max was 4th or lower on just three. The only times Alex finished a race ahead of Max was on the 5 occasions that Max retired. 214 points with a pole and two wins compared to 105 points with 2 thirds. Sadly for Alex there is nothing there that points to anything except a bit of a flogging and when the team wants to be in contention for drivers and constructors titles, you need to be a lot closer to your team leader than flogged.

  This is not to say that Alex is a bad driver. Pierre Gasly didn’t look too flash against Max either but look at his form this year, especially his win at Monza. In another team, it could well be that Alex could prove his worth as a F1 driver just like Pierre, but F1 is a ruthless bastard of a sport and it may be that Alex’s days are over. Just as it looked for Sergio when Racing Point made what I still think was the unfathomable decision to dump him for the seriously under-performing Sebastian Vettel next year. Like Alex, Seb has been seriously flogged, both this year and last, by Charles Leclerc. Vettel’s performance this year is the worst full season by a Ferrari driver since Jody Scheckter in the horrid 312T5 in 1980. Slightly skewed stat as Poor Ivan Capelli, in the equally horrid F92A had a worse year in 1992 but was dumped a few races before the end of the season but you get my drift. Seb was outscored in the points this year by Leclerc by slightly less than 3-1. (98-33). If you used the same scoring system in use in 1980 Seb would have scored a measly 5 points yet Racing Point’s justification was that Seb will bring a winning mentality. For their sake I hope so BUT…………

  The guy they so ruthlessly dumped just completed his finest season in F1. 4th in the drivers championship with 125 points (that is 92 more than Vettel) with a wonderfully emotional win in the Sakhir Grand Prix and outscoring his team-mates (plural) by 40 points. This is also the guy that put in train the events that saved Force India from financial collapse and it’s rebranding to Racing Point. Surely a little more loyalty might have been shown to their best driver in well over 20 years. But no, as I say, a ruthless bastard of a sport. But Racing Point/Aston Martin’s loss is Red Rags gain and a wonderful opportunity for Sergio to finally have a real front running car and exhibit his undoubted talents. Will he be a match for Max? I guess we will see in about 14 weeks or so.

  On the topic of the Flying Dutchman (or at least on an obscure angle thereof) remember the good one-liners that came out after Max’s dad Jos’s Benetton went up in flames at Hockenheim in 1994? The Frying Dutchman. The ignited colours of Benetton. Not so correct in these days but still funny.

  For latest race results & the drivers test go to; 2020 F1 (mmmsport.com.au)

  16-12 2020

  Sam Snape


  Once again I admit to being wrong. Very wrong. Unbelievably, mind bogglingly wrong. But for a minute or so I believed I was horrendously, tragically right. When Grosjean’s Haas speared into the barriers and exploded my first thought, like many of you out there was’ “fuck me!” The second thought was that even if he had survived the impact then the widely loathed Halo would prevent him getting out without at least Lauda type internal and external burns. Or even worse, we might have been witnessing the first poor soul being burnt to death in a Formula one car since Riccardo Paletti in Canada in 1982. Now that's just plain weird

This seemed to be exactly the type of accident that we all feared when the Halo was mandated. Many of us, myself included, condemned it as being not just hideously ugly, but an unacceptable risk in a fire and not designed to prevent injuries such as those suffered by Felipe Massa when struck by smaller, but still lethal, debris. And yet, within 30 seconds, Romain was incredibly out and safe. It took the FIA a few minutes to confirm that everyone, not just Romain, but also the track marshals and the medical crew, were all relatively fine. In that time, as always, there is a blackout of information and footage so that if there has been a tragedy the horrible news can be managed properly. That does, however, leave the viewer in a shocked void where the worst is expected.


  Immediately after the words regarding my opinion of the Halo had passed my lips we had the pictures of Grosjean sitting alive, albeit a little dazed, in the medical car. Relief was palpable. Then we saw the images of the monocoque where it had pierced the barrier and at once I new just how wrong I had been. It was quite clear that the Halo had withstood the impact and had in fact parted the barriers as the Haas struck them and had driven them away from Romain’s head. Without the Halo, this accident would have had an outcome very similar to that which befell Helmuth Koinigg in 1974 when he was decapitated by the barriers at Watkins Glen. I have never in my life, been so delighted, to have been proven so wrong.

  It’s still bloody ugly though.

  Huge respect to Dr Ian Roberts, the FIA’s chief medical officer, Alan van der Merwe, the driver of the medical car and an unnamed (from what I can tell) fire marshal who crossed the track (safely – unlike the twit at the end of the race) who all risked their own safety to save Grosjean. All three came together in perfect synchronicity to assist Romain in his escape attempt. Without the quick thinking and actions of the marshal directing his fire extinguisher at exactly the right angle, Dr Roberts would not have been able to run towards the flames and pull Grosjean over the barrier while van der Merwe had retrieved the extinguisher from the medical car to spray the retreating duo and put out some small flames on their overalls. It needs to be remembered that although wearing fire proof race suits, Roberts and van der Merwe wear open faced helmets, so running so close to a massive fire, to save another’s life, and risking serious injury is an extremely heroic (not a word I use lightly) act.

  Then on Tuesday, as if this week had not been dramatic enough, it was announced that Lewis Hamilton had tested positive for the bloody tedious virus. One of my first thoughts, having as I do a somewhat evil sense of humour, was how funny it would be if he had given it to Verstappen on the podium while weighing the trophy. I really must stop thinking such nasty thoughts, I promise to try harder. All of a sudden we were looking at all sorts of driver changes for this weekend. Who would drive the Merc? And the Haas? I feel immense sympathy for Stoffel Vandoorne, who apart from his Formula E duties has been traipsing all over the place, away from his family, to be Mercedes “Official” reserve driver. And when the opportunity arises the team decides he is not the right chap for them and replaces Lewis with George Russell. No doubt George, being a Mercedes junior academy driver, will do a good job, but he was doing that at Williams anyway. I know I’m being a bit old fashioned but I believe a contract is a contract and it should be respected in both directions. Mercedes agreed a contract with Stoffel to be their reserve driver and so he should have been. However, now that they have not lived up to their own word, this has opened up an opportunity for Jack Aitken who will stand in for Russell at Williams. Please note that Aitken is Williams Official reserve driver so at least one team is honouring their contracts.

  So Aitken will become the first driver of Korean ancestry to drive in a Formula One race. There has been a few obscure records this year. Alex Albon has become the first driver of Thai ancestry to a) score a podium finish and b) lead a World Championship race although Prince Bira of Siam (now Thailand) did score many wins in non-championship races either side of the war. Shh – don’t mention the war. I did but I think I got away with it. Another will occur on Friday when Pietro Fittipaldi becomes the fourth member of his family to participate in a World Championship Grand Prix after brothers Emerson, Wilson and Wilson’s son Christian. That will put them one up on the Brabhams (Jack, David and Gary) and the Villeneuves (Gilles, Jacques and the other Jacques). Joining them shortly will be the Schuamchers when Mick joins Michael and Ralf. The remarkable thing is that there are 22 duos on the list. In alphabetical order they are: Mario & Michael Andretti, Lucien & Jules Bianchi (who almost make the trio list with Mauro driving in non-championship F1 races), Ernesto & Vittorio Brambilla, Corrado & Teo Fabi, Damon & Graham Hill, Jan & Kevin Magnussen, Kazuki & Satoru Nakajima, Chanock & Roy Nissany, Jolyon & Jonathan Palmer, Reg & Tim Parnell, Andre & Teddy Pilette, Nelson (both of them ) Piquet, Pedro & Ricardo Rodriguez, Keke & Nico Rosberg, Ian & Jody Scheckter, Jean-Louis & Jo Schlesser, Ayrton & Bruno Senna, Ian & Jackie Stewart, Hans & Hans-Joachim Stuck, Jos & Max Verstappen, Graham & Peter Whitehead and finally Manfred & Marcus Winkelhock.

  Aren’t you glad you now know that?


Sam Snape

3-12 2020



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