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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