After the August break, Formula 1 burst back into life at Spa-Francorchamps with a spate of news and changes that start with his weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.
Valtteri Bottas, for one, has re-signed up by Mercedes for 2020 and told reporters, “Well, it wasn’t a big deal. The team had an option on me so one morning I got an email that the signature is done, and that’s it.”
Speculation in the paddock was that while Toto Wolff wanted to give the seat to Esteban Ocon, Lewis Hamilton and team engineers pushed for Bottas to stay.
Hamilton called it a “smart decision. Valtteri and I get along very well”.
Also confirmed, therefore, is Ocon’s loan to Renault, which according to La Gazzetta dello Sport will be for 2020 and also 2021 with an option to be negotiated with Mercedes when renewal time comes along.
Wolff, Frenchman Ocon and Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul will reportedly talk to the media on Saturday about the details of the deal.
In other driver news, a glum-looking Pierre Gasly, now wearing Toro Rosso gear, admitted it was “a shock” to be told by Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko about his demotion.
“I heard on the morning of the announcement,” he said. “They didn’t say anything to me in Budapest.”
But Max Verstappen suggested to reporters that he knew before Gasly, adding: “They told me when I was on the simulator before holidays so for me it was not a surprise.”
When asked if a return to Red Bull one day might be on the cards, Gasly answered: “I am told that it is possible, and I think there could be other opportunities as well.”