Kickstarting the first round of the European round of F1, is usually ‘now the season has started for most of us. Walking into the paddock on Thursday and through Free Practice today, there have been plenty of developments such as new updates brought by various teams, the whole Fernando Alonso matter, the Ferrari game, and more new changes in F1.
Addressing a matter that has carried on from Bahrain to here, is the Alonso’s future in F1 and the rumours linking him to several teams. At the moment McLaren keeps him happy allowing him to race Indy or even Le Mans if he feels like. However, in Bahrain his ace confidant Flavio Briatore was seen speaking to Renault, when word travelled through the paddock, insiders confirmed it saying talks have started with him and other teams. Moving to Spain, it was further confirmed in the Drivers’ press conference and TV Pen comments of the Spaniard, where he said he will see whichever team is in a winning position by September, and start talks with them. He said he was open to talking to any team with a good car for 2018. Since the Dr. Dieter Zechkter of Mercedes has still not got over the stunt he pulled in his McLaren, Lewis probably will block that from happening too (he probably doesn’t want a repeat of 2007 either). Knowing Alonso’s last rival Sebastian is at Ferrari, a return to the Italian outfit looks unlikely with the German calling the shots there as of now. The only team who Alonso has a good reputation with is Renault, but can Renault afford him? He and Lewis are the most expensive drivers on then grid. At the moment he is financially secure enough to take a pay cut, and maybe even drive for free to be in a competitive team with a competitive car. If he does make the move to the French manufacturer team, where does that leave Jolyon Palmer? And will it be the rise of Nico Hulkenberg or the end of his career, as there are three people you would never want as your team-mates Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. By September one can expect more news, but the Spaniard’s frustration has been evident on the pit-radio and even in the FP sessions on thursday, where he left the track with bags packed after FP1 and came back for FP2 when they put a new engine in the car. When asked about it he said, he went to his hotel to play a game of tennis. Only time will tell what fate has in store for the Spanish double champ, one can only wish he wins Indy 500 which will be broadcast live at the McLaren hospitality in the paddock.
The Red Bull Saga
When it comes tot Red Bull’s 2017 car, it has been constantly lagging behind in reliability. They’ve brought new updates to Spain and were seen testing the rear of the car. So far their car is the only one in its own direction in the development war, and a result of it has been a complicated chassis. Chassis is something that can usually be corrected over the course of the season, so one can expect them back in full swing by Montreal. When it comes to the team, Adrian Newey has always been seen in civvies in the hospitality, however this weekend he has been spotted in team uniform at the pitwall and garage. This change to bring him in obviously one of the key steps to correct the majority of the aero problems with the car. In qualifying, they have managed catching up to the Ferrari in one lap pace as Max’s time was only a tenth of Kimi’s.
Is Sauber right signing Honda?
At my last race in Bahrain, Sauber was yet to sign the contract with Honda. However, now that they have signed it there has been all kinds of speculation as to whether its the best decision. From their team’s perspective, they have developed a decent chassis, however all they need is a good engine and a current Honda engine is better than a year old Ferrari engine. A second team to supply the engines to is also good for Honda on the development side, which means more data and input. Since Honda has the weakest engine, according to the FIA norms the strongest engine maker has to consult or aide the weakest one, and they have to be within 1/3rd of the gap. In this case Mercedes is said to be consulting Honda on the sidelines to develop their engine, a matter both parties are refusing to comment on. However, another big name associated with McLaren and Honda is Mario Ilean who was also involved with Red Bull last year. For Sauber, a Honda engine is probably the best deal at the moment, as it will never get the same deal Haas has with Ferrari. Another development for 2018 with the Honda Sauber tie-up is maybe one gets to see a Honda Japanese driver (maybe Nobuharu Matsushita), drive for the team. If grapevine is to be believed they won’t be signed till the end of the year, ass the drivers would have to get enough points for the super license. However, both Sauber and Honda seem positive about their new relationship. But who out of the current drivers will get the boot in 2018? Marcus Ericsson is backed by a lot of Swedish money, the obvious answer is Pascal as he brings nothing aboard when it comes to sponsors. Despite the German’s immense talent it is going to be interesting to see where his future takes him.
With Monaco up next, the grapevine should twist and turn by then … Adios Spain!!