F1 driver moves

So then, at long last, Fernando Alonso is parting from Ferrari which has a lot to thank him for, making it look like a half decent team despite the politics and engineering disaster that has been this season. One might argue Alonso is not the best at providing feedback to the team, but what the hell.

Main thing is what will Vettel be able to do. After a dismal season this year at Red Bull I do wonder what he can contribute to the team without a thorough overhaul of the operation which one assumes is quietly underway…


One also assumes, reading between the lines of comments made recently by Ron Dennis and the talented Eric Boullier, that Alonso will be heading over to McLaren to work with next year’s Honda engines and poor old Jenson Alexander Lyons Button is out, sadly in my view.

Prepare yourselves for a game of musical chairs over the next few weeks..

Personally, I think Alonso could end up at Red Bull. Even though Red Bull has not been too happy with its engine supplier of late, Alonso won two championships with Renault, so could add value to the relationship. One might also argue that the Honda technology for next season’s McLaren may not be good enough to win races and Alonso is not getting any younger.

It’s difficult. If I was Alonso, I’d take the Red Bull option…

Chinese GP – Williams

Valtteri Bottas finished seventh and Felipe Massa 15th in the Chinese Grand Prix.

Valterri Bottas

Valterri Bottas

Felipe had a great start but then made contact with a defending Fernando Alonso, whilst Valtteri was hit by Nico Rosberg who was braking hard in response to the action ahead. Felipe recovered to sixth with Valtteri in eighth before the first round of pitstops but a problem in Felipe’s first pitstop then dropped him to the back of the field. Valtteri meanwhile chased the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg eventually finishing just half a second behind, as Felipe fought hard to gain positions back to 15th.

Rob Smedley, Head of Vehicle Performance:

“It’s bittersweet really as the car was quick. We had a good strategy and the team worked well together. It’s a real shame for Felipe and the whole team about the pitstop and it is something that we need to investigate to ensure it doesn’t happen again, as it cost us points today. To have one car in the top ten shows that we have the pace and that gives us continued optimism, so we will take the positives forward to Spain.”

Rob Smedley

Rob Smedley

Valtteri Bottas:

“It was a good race for me despite some hard contact at the start which cost me a few positions. I also had to drive the whole race without telemetry which isn’t the easiest thing to do. We made progress over the whole weekend which is good. It’s great to make steps forward and we are looking to do the same in Spain in a three weeks’ time.”

Felipe Massa:

“I had another great start today and we were fighting at the top. I felt some contact with Fernando but luckily the car wasn’t damaged so I could carry on. There was a mistake at the first pitstop and that effectively lost me the race as I came back out on track in last position. It is a frustrating situation and something we need to work on to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. We have time now to work hard and improve the car for Spain.”

Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa


It’s a shame that a track – for some of a certain age – perhaps best known for the violent death of one of our greatest racers as he ran on the limit (Jim Clark – 1968) should now be associated with an event that demonstrates quite the opposite of true racing.

Team orders at this weekend’s German Grand Prix dictated that one driver – clearly in line for a win – should move over to let his team mate pass and be credited with the win he should have had.

Business and sport are uneasy bedfellows in Formula One. The true fan isn’t sufficiently naive to realise the sport can survive without business money. But business does seem to think it can behave in whatever way it likes.

As my colleague, F1 analyst Joe Saward put it so eloquently in his latest review of the race:

” For the average fan what is important is not just that they watch a straight fight between two competitors, but that the sport itself is portrayed in a good light. Fans are passionate about the sport, about its traditions and they want to be able to say that they are proud of it when challenged by some ping-pong freak or a follower of synchronised swimming.

“…what drives sports fans to spend their money on luxuries such as team memorabilia and very fast cars is not the result, but rather the way results are achieved. They will spend more if they feel an engagement with the team. If it makes them feel good.”

It’s the same feeling I got when Schumacher raced. Again – Joe makes the point which, although talking about Alonso, could easily be applied to Michael:

“There are two ways of winning: one can win in a functional sense and one can win in style…Winning was the goal and the route taken to get there was not important to him.”

It’s why I will never regard Michael as one of our greatest drivers, even though his ‘achievements’ on paper look impressive.

We all admire the skills of those at the top of their game. But we also like to be inspired. And the one thing that F1 isn’t doing at the moment – even though we’ve had the occasional joust and spin – is inspiring the next generation.

Business – take note. Inspired people spend money.

Oh, and by the way, when an engineer informs his driver that the other guy’s quicker, then that driver increases his pace, doesn’t he? He certainly doesn’t slow down and let the other driver by.

And if Mr Massa had led a Ferrari 1-2, the team would still have come away from the GP with 43 points.

%d bloggers like this: