Between a fantastic GP, the long-awaited demise of Rich Energy, and the 2021 regs starting to take shape, the past seven days have been busy ones in the F1 world.
British GP Fallout: Credit to F1, on a day where they had more competition for eyeballs than ever, the sport managed to put its best foot forward with a scintillating race.
Both during the race and in its aftermath there’s been no shortage of things to talk about, with round two of Max Verstappen v Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton’s masterful drive, and Sebastian Vettel’s rear-ending of Verstappen all providing plenty of fodder for the F1 news machine – Vettel’s afternoon in particular generating headlines.
His weekend already bad enough after a dismal Saturday showing, another screw-up on Sunday was exactly what the German didn’t need, yet that’s exactly what happened, with the criticism and speculation surrounding his position at Ferrari sent further into overdrive.
Certainly the narrative is being pushed that he’s in trouble, with Ralf Schumacher expressing concern over his number-one status, and the Italian media taking the opportunity to simultaneously blast him and anoint Leclerc as the Scuderia’s new leader.
The good news for Vettel is that the one man whose opinion matters – Mattia Binotto – still seems to have his back, but it’s fair to wonder just how long that will last.
While there should be absolutely no denying his talent, Vettel’s 2019 form would seem to suggest he’s currently not in position to challenge for a world championship, regardless of the car beneath him. Hopefully that’s something the German can rectify on his own, but whether he can do so before his time completely runs out? That remains to be seen.
Haas’ Storey Gets Taller: Hats off to William Storey and Rich Energy – we all knew it would end this way, but boy is he going out with a bang! First there was the termination of their contract with Haas for “poor performance”, (which seems like the corporate equivalent of breaking up with someone because you know they’re about to do it to you), then the back-and-forth with Storey and his board, and now… Rich Energy is no more, with “Volt Energy” in its place.
As of writing, it’s still not known whether Haas has their title sponsor or not, but one thing is for sure: this debacle has earned its place in F1’s lengthy history of colourful sponsors and financiers. What makes it particularly remarkable is that with social media, everyone was able to discern the company’s non-viability from the get-go, and then we got to watch the inevitable fireworks when it all came crashing down in real time. Say what you will about the internet, it definitely has its moments.
2021 Regs Take Shape: Heralded for quite some time as the year F1 gets a much-needed facelift, the regulations for the 2021 season are finally coming into focus. A $175 million budget cap, simplified aero on top, more use of ground effect underneath, more standardized parts, limits on team personnel at the track – in summation, more unpredictable races and a more competitive championship. Assuming refuelling won’t make a reappearance, I’m happy with most of it – I just hope the personnel restrictions don’t lead to layoffs – although it’s far too early to reach any definitive conclusions. Ross Brawn and co have a tough task in balancing F1’s place as the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’ and giving the teams room to innovate while also creating a more even playing field – maybe he nails it and a Racing Point is able to beat a Mercedes, but realistically, the might of the companies behind the big teams is still going to have a major influence. If we can just get even three teams consistently fighting for race wins, I’d say they’ve done a pretty good job.