Long Time, No See……

A funny time to revive my blog, you might think: the season is over, celebrations are done, and everyone is taking a step back and looking forward to the Christmas break. I admit to having been lazy in this past year, and for many a reason, but promise to keep my attention focused for 2015. So, why have I decided to come back now?

Well, for me, the ‘off-season’ is one of the most interesting times. I’ve always been interested in the technical side of the sport and like to keep on top of developments (which is why, unlike an increasingly out of touch Mr Ecclestone, I’m firmly in favour of the current hybrid power units) and can still recall the days when, without the wonders of the internet, a trip to the newsagent on a Thursday morning to pick up the latest Autosport was THE essential shopping trip of the year.

Nowadays, of course, we get to see the new cars in all their glory (and usually, it must be said, in disguised ‘launch configuration’) as they are unveiled. This winter, however, it must be said that there is plenty to talk about, and not just how the 2015 cars will look.

Let’s be honest: outgoing World Champion Sebastian Vettel had a terrible season. Roundly beaten by a quite brilliant Daniel Ricciardo (and I’m one who couldn’t see it coming), he has jumped ship from Red Bull to Ferrari. Many have bleated about him throwing in the towel and running from the competition; in truth, I believe it was always going to happen. What is also intriguing is that his new team mate, Kimi Raikkonen, also had a pretty awful time in 2014, and was completely trounced by Fernando Alonso. Within the team there have been a number of changes: Luca di Montezemelo is gone as is Stefano Domenicali, and the interim manager whose name I can’t remember has also gone, to be replaced by a man who was formerly the Philip Morris (read Marlboro) agent for the team. Intriguing, and rather odd, but who are we to argue? In the past few days it has also been announced that both Pat Fry and Nikolas Tombazis, both quality players, have also been ‘let go’. That’s two men with copious experience looking for a job, then.

The changes leave James Allison in a rather stressful position: he, and his talented team, has to deliver a car that can challenge the runaway leaders Mercedes, even if hampered by an engine that is not quite up to the job. Watch this space for news on the ongoing argument about ‘freeing up’ the engine regulations – I suspect something may happen in the next couple of weeks.

So, what to say about Mercedes? There are two schools of thought: they either bored the pants off everyone, or they showed the rest how to do it. Of course, the latter is – to any real F1 fan – the correct version. I predicted last winter that Mercedes would hit the ground running: I didn’t expect them to do it like this. I expect them also to lead the field in the early stages of next year, but suspect there may be challenges from elsewhere as the season develops.

Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton, then, on a second World Championship, and a big well-done to Nico Rosberg for going down like a fighter in unfortunate circumstances at the last race. Incidentally, the dreaded double points never played a part.

Who else starred during 2014? Ricciardo, as the only winner bar the Mercedes duo, has already had a mention, but for me the man of the year is one who seems to raise mixed feelings on the forums and fan sites: Valtteri Bottas is emerging as a true star, and it is no surprise that stories are circling about interest from Ferrari and, perhaps, others. He drove some excellent races this year in a Williams-Mercedes that as undoubtedly the surprise of the season. I have a feeling that Williams will build on their success this year, and take the fight to the big boys in a more consistent fashion next season. The youth, skill and enthusiasm of Bottas coupled with a revitalised and experienced Felipe Massa is a strong pairing, and that brings us neatly onto the next talking point about 2015: the driver line-ups.

In Vettel and Raikkonen at Ferrari, the established pairing of Hamilton and Rosberg at Mercedes and Bottas and Massa at Williams we have already mentioned three exciting and intriguing line-ups, and there are more right down the field.

Red Bull has opted to pair Ricciardo with the acknowledged Rookie of the Year Daniil Kvyat. I have to admit to having less than high expectations for the young Russian going into the year; perhaps more than any driver of recent seasons, his apparent ability to get on with it from the off was extremely impressive. He looked very good alongside the clearly talented but seemingly bewildered jean-Eric Vergne and turned in some very good races. That Vergne is now off to Indycars (so the story goes) with nobody interested in him in F1 displays both the good and the bad about the Red Bull young driver scheme: Vergne is better than that, and I believe, should he get a drive in the USA, he will be one of the stars of the season.

At the Red Bull junior team, Toro Rosso, thinks look even more intriguing. The team was one of many to be sniffing around the latest young hot-shoe Max Verstappen, who is clearly a potentially great talent. Interesting to myself, as a long time follower of the sport, is how his F1 beginnings mimicked those of his father, Jos Verstappen, who was courted by every man and his dog only to have his career falter in a series of under-par cars. Young Verstappen has already broken records, having tested an F1 car in Friday practice at the age of just 16, and will make his debut as the youngest of all time. If I’m honest, I fear for him: he’s very quick, dedicated and from excellent stock, but is the pressure of F1 going to be too much for his young mind? We shall wait and see.

Meanwhile, he is to be partnered by another son of a former star, Carlos Sainz jnr. The 20 year old Spaniard, son of the great rally champion of the same name, has a lot resting on his shoulders. Nevertheless, this ranks as one of the most exciting and interesting pairings of the coming season.

Force India had a fine season in 2014, and has opted to retain its driver line up of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg for the coming year. This is a good decision, as both are quality drivers, with Hulkenberg especially considered by many to be top-drawer material. Also choosing to retain its drivers is Lotus, a team that endured the exact opposite of Force India in the past season; Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado will be hoping for improvement from the incoming Mercedes power unit in 2015.

At Sauber things are a little more complicated: after a genuinely torrid season the team has taken the decision to let both Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez go. Neither did a poor job in 2014; the car simply wasn’t up to it. However, while Gutierrez has landed a role as Ferrari third driver, Sutil believes he has a valid contract with the team. So, as it happens, does Giedo van der Garde. Nevertheless, the team has announced Marcus Ericsson, ex of Caterham, and former Williams test driver and GP2 star Felipe Nasr as its drivers for the coming season. How this all pans out we wait to see.

So, with Caterham and Marussia out of the picture – although both have, in some form, filed entries for 2015 – that’s everyone. Isn’t it? Oh, wait a minute, no it’s not! How could I forget McLaren? Well, to be absolutely fair, I didn’t forget them at all; I simply left the most exciting until last.

Why the most exciting? Because 2015 heralds the return of the McLaren-Honda partnership that remains so evocative to many fans. Not only that, it also sees the return of one-time McLaren Bad Boy Fernando Alonso, who will partner the – surprisingly – continuing Jenson Button. I believe the team has made the right choice in retaining Button: Kevin Magnussen is a hot prospect, but the new partnership will relish the experience it has in its 2015 line-up. The team has retained Magnussen, may believe with a view to putting him back in the car when Button goes. The new engine had a problematic debut at the recent Abu Dhabi test, but that’s what tests are for. Will it be up to the job? Will the car be on the pace? It’s difficult to say, and the logical thought is that it will take some time, but it remains an enigmatic presence in the field, and I can’t wait to see it.

So, that’s 2015 summed up: a couple of things – don’t believe the fluff about third cars, it won’t happen; and don’t believe the nonsense about 21 races – Korea is not going to happen either.
Keep in touch, and let’s see what the winter brings.

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Thoughts on the New Regulations – and some other stuff

The new season is upon us; we’ve had two races – neither of them great, but equally so neither of them devoid of interest – and a flurry of press outrage about the quiet nature of the engines. What nonsense; F1 is about racing, not noise. Then there’s the complaints about fuel flow limits (not withstanding Red Bull’s exceptionally arrogant behaviour in Australia); drivers, ‘they’ say, are being forced to perform economy runs. If so, it’s not the first time; memories are short in this game.

The technical regulations this season represent perhaps the most comprehensive changes I have witnessed in 40 years of following this sport; this isn’t a case of switching from a V10 to V8, it’s an entirely new ball game. And Renault, it seems, has dropped that ball. There’s no doubt they are getting back up to speed, but I wasn’t the only one to suggest that Mercedes would hit the ground running. Red Bull – so used to dominating the sport over the past few years – has thrown its toys out of the pram, with lead driver Sebastian Vettel declaring the new engines sound ‘shit’; what does it matter to him what they sound like? He’s a racing driver, not an audio technician. Furthermore, one doubts he would be saying such had the Red Bull not been such a fragile proposition in these early races.

So, one each to Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, and a 1-2 for the Silver Arrows in Malaysia. Rosberg’s inability to stay with Lewis at Sepang was a mystery, and Hamilton delighted in informing everyone that he ‘blew him away’. He did – no doubt about it – but it’s a dangerous move to write off Nico. Mercedes needs to keep on top of things as we can be certain Red Bull will bounce back; the car has undoubted speed and, once its teething troubles are sorted, it will challenge for wins.

On the plus side, Nico Hulkenberg must be counting his blessings that Lotus decided not to take him; the German is, in my eyes, a contender for best driver in the field right now – he’s consistent, fast and very, very tidy, and would be up front in a top car. The Force India looks like a pretty handy machine, given the resources at hand, and he’s finished top five in both races so far. Lotus, on the other hand, has gone from front runner status at the end of last year to looking completely lost at the moment.

The new boys: Daniel Ricciardo – no rookie, of course – has settled in well at Red Bull and looks fast and composed. He is perhaps handling the difficult circumstances better that Vettel right now, as he’s under less pressure than the World Champion. Kevin Magnussen is, as McLaren were keen to tell us last year, clearly a star in the making; Australia was an astounding performance, Malaysia marred by his clash with Raikkonen (although a decent recovery ensued); I expect him to be a fixture on the scene for a long time. Perhaps the biggest surprise – to me at least – has been the performance of Daniil Kvyat. The young – very young – Russian was something of a surprise choice at STR and, I believed, a commercial one rather than a racing one. I’ve been proved wrong: he’s performed admirably so far, and simply got on with the job. I see another star in the making. I’ll reserve judgement on the clearly talented Marcus Ericcson given the machinery at his disposal.

So, what does the future hold? Plenty, I believe; these V6 turbo engines are jewels, superbly engineered delights that reflect what is relevant to motor manufacturers today. With one possible exception – when did you last see a 1.6litre Ferrari? The word is that the Prancing Horse is unhappy with the state of play, and a surprise press release claim that 83% of fans are ‘unhappy’ with the new generation of F1. I know a lot of fans, and I have yet to find one that actually participated in Ferrari’s ‘survey’. I would also suggest that two races into an entirely new era is a little early to be making such claims. Nevertheless, Maranello is flexing its muscles, and wants ‘quick changes’ to the regulations. Such as shorter races. That would really please the fans, I’m sure. Luca di Montezemelo may do well to keep quiet, and see that his team makes its protest on track.

We have a long way to go with these new regulations; let’s give them a chance to find their feet. I’m willing to wager that, by the middle of the season, these cars will be matching the lap times set by their predecessors.

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Maldonado Signs for Lotus: What Comes Next?

The news, released shortly after yesterday’s post, that Pastor Maldonado has secured the second Lotus seat alongside Romain Grosjean came as no surprise to anyone. Now that we have one less driver in this expensive game of musical chairs we await the next round of changes.

Sauber and Force India, along with back of the grid stalwarts Marussia and Caterham, are the remaining teams with seats available, and yet there is no news from either. The problem is, of course, money: neither team is flush, despite some great results this year, although that also applies to Lotus. The word is that Adrian Sutil has jumped from Force India to Sauber, and it is expected that Nico Hulkenberg will go the other way, but the identity of the second driver at either team is far from decided.

Sergio Perez should, by rights, take one of them, and the general consensus is that he will pitch up alongside Hulkenberg at Force India. Perez may not have set the world alight at McLaren but he did a decent job in a difficult situation, and we know he has pace from his time at Sauber, while Hulkenberg is a known quantity in anyone’s book. The two of them in one team make an attractive partnership.

The second Sauber seat is the most confusing of all; assuming Sutil has done a deal, we might expect Esteban Gutierrez to keep his drive. The young Mexican, in my eyes, drove some fine races in his rookie year, and deserves a second season. However, money talks, and it may be that Sauber is looking at drivers with some cash.

There are other rumours about teams ‘merging’; it is known that Marussia sounded out a deal with Williams but was met with little enthusiasm. The story now is that Lotus and Caterham may join forces, and Sauber will do the same with Marussia. For me, this makes no sense. All that would happen is that one team will effectively close down, and the remaining outfit will cherry pick the good guys. It also leaves four drivers out of work, as all talk of three-car teams is well ahead of the game.

One name that has entered the frame is Felipe Nasr, and the young Brazilian is undoubtedly talented, while Marcus Ericsson is also a driver being mentioned in some quarters, which must be making Charles Pic, Max Chilton, Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi somewhat nervous. Of the four, the latter is the obvious candidate for a 2014 drive, not least because of his Ferrari connections.

Elsewhere there is talk of making two pit stops mandatory, and of giving drivers permanent numbers. Given the perilous financial state of more than half the grid one feels that there are more important factors for the FIA to be concentrating on right now.

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Now the Real Silly Season Begins

Sebastian Vettel closed the V8-era with nine consecutive wins, an all time record: a record that, for odd reasons, has been met with some indifference. Four titles on the trot, total domination of the field, an absolutely imperious second half of the season, yet the general consensus among ‘fans’ seems to be that, no, it can’t be so, Vettel is not a ‘great’ driver.

Nonsense; best car in the field or not, you don’t win four world titles on the run without a special degree of talent. For me, Vettel’s outstanding quality – especially this season – has been his ability to be on it, absolutely and completely, from the off, to put in astonishingly quick opening laps that must have left his rivals wondering just what more they could do. Add to that his ultimate consistency, and you have all the merits of a great driver.

All the usual arguments – he has the fastest car, we haven’t seen him come through the field, it’s Adrian Newey at the helm and so on – don’t add up: it’s Vettel’s job to start from the front, and run away from the field. In other words, in making it boring, he’s doing what he’s paid for. I, for one, feel privileged to have witnessed such talent, just as I did with Senna, Prost, Schumacher and so on. I may not have liked them all, may not have been a fan, as such, but I still admire their ability.

So, the best driver in the field, then? No; that accolade goes, without doubt, to Fernando Alonso, the frustrated Spaniard whom one gets the feeling is heading down a rocky route into 2014 with Ferrari. I’m not sure anyone on the grid has the ability to drag a truly unworthy car into the positions it has finished in this season. To finish second in the title race, ahead of the second Red Bull, was a truly impressive achievement.

Farewell, Mark Webber. There has been an outpouring of love for the likeable Aussie, but will he really be missed? By his fans, of course he will, but drivers come, and drivers go. Webber has had a great F1 career, and must be recognised as one of the finest drivers of the past few years. That he’s chosen to take his talent to Porsche, and the daunting task that is the Le Mans 24hrs, certainly raises interest in that race for me and, I suspect, others. Out with the old, then, and in with the new.

Other news: Ross Brawn has left Mercedes F1, destination as yet unconfirmed. The strong money says he’ll take a year out, some say he’ll resurface with the FIA, others see him at Ferrari, at McLaren, at Williams. I would hazard a guess he will emerge in some form with the upcoming McLaren-Honda partnership, but we have to wait and see.

The driver market: it seems that everyone is waiting on a couple of pieces of the jigsaw to fall into place. Money is the key issue: Lotus is waiting on the rumoured Quantum deal, which few now believe will come about; Sauber is hanging on a string with the promise of money tied to Sergey Sirotkin, which few now believe will come about. In all of this, Williams appears to have come out smiling, it’s severance deal with Pastor Maldonado having brought about a little cash, while allowing the inconsistent, if very quick, Venezuelan to move on.

But to where? Three drivers – perhaps four – are vying for the apparent remaining seats, with that at Lotus – alongside Romain Grosjean – the most desirable. By rights, it should belong to Nico Hulkenberg, but the very talented German – one of the stars of the season – has a desire to be paid a wage, and without the Quantum money, that doesn’t look promising. However, that nothing has been announced yet is telling; some believe that Maldonado has already agreed terms, but why the wait if that is so?

Sergio Perez, ousted from McLaren, is also in the frame, and Martin Whitmarsh has implied heavily that he has secured the Mexican a berth on the grid; this is likely to be at Force India or Sauber. The former will drop Paul di Resta, it seems, and the strong rumours say that Adrian Sutil has already signed for Sauber. That leaves Hulkenberg and Perez at Sauber, which on paper, is not a bed line-up at all. Again, however, nothing is certain.
With the race on to get engines and new chassis ready for next season – and stories emerging of exploding Mercedes V6’s on the test bed at Brixworth – it’s all go in the F1 world, and with the drives at Caterham and Marussia yet to be confirmed, think of this: going into a new era, with a fresh set of technical rules, only one team – as we stand – can boast driver continuity from 2013 across 2014: that team is Mercedes, make of that what you will.

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All Aboard the Merry-go-Round

The driver market is currently providing more entertainment than the racing. It has long been rumoured that Felipe Massa, dropped by Ferrari in favour of the returning Kimi Raikkonen, was on his way to Williams. The team announced the deal yesterday, and also confirmed that Valtteri Bottas will remain for 2014. The Finn has had a difficult season, yet remains highly regarded within Williams, while Massa’s extensive experience is of great value to the team as it switches to Mercedes power for the new regulations. The news means, of course, that Pastor Maldonado needs to look elsewhere for a job.

Another announcement is due, according to Autosport, from McLaren, where it is reported that Kevin Magnussen has secured the seat alongside Jenson Button for 2014. Magnussen, son of former Stewart and McLaren F1 driver Jan, won this year’s Renault 3.5 World Series at a canter, and is considered top-level material by McLaren. At 21, it is perhaps an odd choice for a team not known for bringing in youngsters (Lewis Hamilton excepted) but it has to be said that Sergio Perez has not shown the speed expected before the season, albeit in a very difficult car. Joe Saward covers the story in more detail.

These two additions to the busy market place come shortly after an announcement from Lotus, and Kimi Raikkonen, that the Ferrari-bound Finn will not drive in the final two races of the season. Davide Valsecchi, the team’s highly rated reserve driver, had been expected to get the job, yet there has been no announcement from within the team. With just a few days to go before the US GP at Austin, Lotus needs to make a decision very soon.

The Lotus team is waiting on an influx of money from its apparent new investor; this has, apparently, yet to materialise, and should it not there is intense speculation that Maldonado, replete with Venezuelan money, is on his way to Enstone alongside Romain Grosjean. However, should the new money arrive, the new investors have made it known that they want Nico Hulkenberg – who doesn’t bring money – in the car. Hulkenberg, it should be said, is no longer officially under contract at Sauber: it could well be in Lotus’s interests to grab the German now, as he is effectively a free agent. However, money talks, and it could be that Lotus will choose the fast but erratic Maldonado over the fast and consistent Hulkenberg; it would be, in the opinion of this writer, a crying shame if Hulkenberg is left without a competitive drive in 2014.

There are also some lingering doubts surrounding Fernando Alonso’s participation in the USA, following his colossal back-jarring impact last time out (it seems the back injuries are the in-thing with Ferrari drivers at the moment); these have been variously denied and not denied, and it remains to be seen what the official line is. I expect Alonso to driver – he is to undergo tests when he reaches Austin – but if not, look for either Pedro de la Rosa or Jules Bianchi to step in.

So, there we have it: Raikkonen to Ferrari, but not in the USA or Brazil; Massa to Williams for 2014; Magnussen to McLaren, and Perez, Hulkenberg and various others fighting over drives at Lotus, Force India and Sauber. Oh, and Daniil Kyvat has a superlicence and will race for Toro Rosso in 2014. It’s all go!

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A Talent Too Good to Waste

It’s been a while since I posted on here; no particular reason, although it has to be said the second half of the season has not proven as varied or interesting as the first. No disrespect to the sheer excellence displayed by Sebastian Vettel and the Red Bull team – after all, it’s up to the rest to do as good a job – but there simply hasn’t been much to say.

Following the Korean GP, however, I have to come back to a man I’ve mentioned many times in the past: Nico Hulkenberg drove a blinder, his Sauber fending off Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes and Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari for a very fine fourth place finish. Out of contract at Sauber, the German has made a strong impression in recent races, and has emerged as a candidate for a seat at Lotus in 2014. Things are, however, complex, thanks in no small part to the fact that Hulkenberg is one of the taller drivers on the grid.

It is said that the added weight of the new V6 engines, due next year, will act against the bigger lads; if this simple fact leads to a talent the size of Hulkenberg having no drive then there is something fundamentally wrong with the regulations. There is hope, however: Hulkenberg’s name also crops up in stories about McLaren, where there are murmurs – denied in some ways – that the team is not satisfied with the performance t his year of Sergio Perez. In fact, many have expressed surprise that Nico was not the chosen replacement for Lewis Hamilton as opposed to the Mexican.

Also adding complication to the mix is the availability of outgoing Ferrari number two Felipe Massa, and the fact that Bernie Ecclestone has reiterated his insistence that F1 needs a Brazilian on the grid. Massa, at a time of change and possible confusion in the sport, would make a sensible choice for a team looking for experience, and has also been mentioned in connection with Lotus. Some say Pastor Maldonado has also been considered for the seat alongside Romain Grosjean – who has driven very well of late – as his Mexican money would be of interest. The silly season, then, is far from over.

My gut feeling is that logic will prevail, and that Hulkenberg will get the Lotus drive, while Massa will slot in for a swansong season at, say, Force India. Before we move on from the driver market, there are also suggestions that Adrian Sutil is in demand in the mid-field, although it is a busy market as we can see.

An interesting story is brewing at Mercedes, where everyone who is anyone is currently denying the rumour that Ross Brawn is about to leave the team. True to F1 form, this probably means he’s leaving. The story comes in conjunction with a quote from Martin Whitmarsh stating that McLaren are soon to announce ‘headline grabbing’ tech-team changes, and persistent rumours that Brawn is wanted by McLaren’s new engine partner, the returning Honda (denied, as always, by Honda top-brass). Could Brawn be on his way to McLaren, via Honda? Nothing is impossible, although it is worth noting that experienced and highly-rated German designer Jorg Zander, formerly of Williams, BMW, Honda and Brawn, has also been mooted as a possible recruit for McLaren, as has another Brawn (and Ferrari) man Loic Bigois.

Finally, a word about one of the sport’s truly iconic personalities: veteran commentator Murray Walker, whose fabulously high-octane delivery graced the race coverage on the BBC, ITV and in many other countries for what seemed like a lifetime, is 90 years of age today (October 10th, 2013). Having been undergoing chemotherapy, Walker let it be known in the summer that things were going well, and has been seen in fine health at events such as the Goodwood Revival. If anyone truly ‘belongs’ in a motor racing paddock it is Murray Walker, and I take this opportunity to wish him a very happy birthday, good health, and many more years to come.

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Waiting for the Final Piece of the Puzzle

If Twitter-world is to be believed an announcement confirming Kimi Raikkonen’s return to Ferrari is imminent. The stories have been swirling around for several weeks now, and yesterday we saw one more piece of the jigsaw fall into place when Felipe Massa announced he would not be driving for Ferrari next year.

The Brazilian has had a solid run at Ferrari, and came very close to the world title in 2008, but it has been clear to many for some time that his time at Maranello was coming to a close. Where he fits in next year is anyone’s guess, but a return to Sauber is not out of the question. With Raikkonen expected to slot in at Ferrari a seat becomes available at Lotus. Nico Hulkenberg, who apparently had some form of pre-contract with Ferrari but has now been told, we are hearing, his services will not be required for 2014 is the obvious choice.

There is, however, a notable fly in the ointment, as mentioned in an earlier post: while an Alonso-Raikkonen pairing would undoubtedly be the strongest driver line up on the grid – and one of the most exciting of recent years – the Spaniard does come with a reputation for getting a little upset when his team-mate beats him. As also mentioned, he’s been involved in a spat with his boss in the past few weeks, and even resorted to criticising the team openly in a much-publicised radio message during the Monza weekend.

Could it be, perhaps, that Alonso will choose to pack his bags and leave? Some have mooted that he may be on the way back to Lotus – it would be his third stint at Enstone – and with rumours continuing that the Lotus management are trying to entice Renault back in a more active role Alonso would be a welcome bonus. A Kimi-Fernando swap, then? Perhaps, but in many ways it makes no sense; Alonso has, after all, stated he will accept whoever they sign as his partner in 2014; what he says, and what he actually thinks, may not tally.

There is one famous quote – forgive me as I’ll likely get the wording and the driver involved wrong – about the ideal team mate: ‘one who is a second a lap slower than you’ was the answer, and I think it may have been Mario Andretti who is attributed with it. Raikkonen is not a second a lap slower than Alonso, so therein lies the problem.

On the plus side, Kimi doesn’t ‘do’ politics, so would not rock the boat; Alonso, on the other hand, is perhaps the most cunning of all when it comes to getting a team on his side (or not). Alonso also brings Santander money.
Until everything falls into place I am still unsure that Alonso will remain alongside Raikkonen; if he doesn’t, surely Hulkenberg is a cert for the seat? Either way, the silly-season is about to take a major step forward.

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