The Mercedes Conundrum, and What’s Going on at Caterham?

The rumours are flying around thick and fast in F1 land right now: first, Timo Glock’s departure has left a void at Marussia, and now there is speculation that he is about to be replaced by Vitaly Petrov, whose sponsors appear to have vanished from the Caterham F1 web page. That would leave a seat open at Caterham, alongside Charles Pic, presumably for someone who has enough dosh to cover the deficit going out the door with Petrov. Two names spring to mind: Giedo van der Garde, whom we are led to believe has funding, and Bruno Senna, who also has experience. The latter is the more likely candidate.

Now to Mercedes, where Lewis Hamilton’s first official appearance for the team was overshadowed by curious in-fighting. Niki Lauda, who has adopted a management role, has already succeeded in luring Toto Wolff from Williams. Wolff, it is believed, was in negotiations to take McLaren’s Paddy Lowe to Williams. The story goes that the deal was all but complete when Wolff was offered the Mercedes job, and he then tried to turn things around and install Lowe alongside him at his new berth. This leaves Ross Brawn, and Nick Fry, in a tricky situation. Brawn, however, has insisted he is not leaving, and that Lowe is not on the way to join him: Mercedes, one should remember, already has the likes of Aldo Costa, Bob Bell and Geoff Willis on its books, not to mention Brawn, Fry, Wolff, Lauda and a selection of some of the sport’s finest engineers. Too many cooks? We shall have to wait and see, but all of this must be unsettling for Hamilton.

Next, it’s the what’s-going-on-at-Force-India moment: the truth is, nobody really knows. The tram is due to launch its new car at Silverstone in little over a week, but has yet to announce who will drive it. Paul di Resta is believed to be continuing with the team he drove for last year, but there are constant murmurs that – with Vijay Mallya’s business empire crumbling in places – he may not be as safe as is believed. There are stories that the Indian press is reporting the imminent signing of Petrov (that man again) and Kamui Kobayashi, but I’ve searched and can’t find any mention of it. It makes no sense anyhow, as it is probable that the choice is between Jules Bianchi and Adrian Sutil. There are also, it should be said, background noises hinting at a buy-out being arranged, with Mr E orchestrating things and Colin Kolles at the helm. Unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

Finally for now, Bernie has been talking to the press again: he reckons the 20th race is still on for this season, and that it will either be at the new Algarve circuit in Portugal, or an unspecified French track, probably Magny Cours. Given that the French government appear completely uninterested, large pinches of salt are to be taken with the last option. Portugal – it’s possible, but next we’ll be hearing the Oulton Park wants the race. Now, come to think of it, that would be something…..

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