Midweek Wrap: Driver Market Heats Up, Seb v Charles, RIP Anthoine

A week that provided plenty of interesting stories in the F1 world, all of it was overshadowed by the tragic death of Anthoine Hubert.

Bottas Re-Signs with Mercedes, Ocon Confirmed at Renault: It was assumed as much in last week’s wrap, but on Thursday it became official, with Valtteri Bottas back at the Mercedes for 2020, with Esteban Ocon moving to Renault. Honestly I don’t feel there’s much I haven’t already said – it’s the safe option for the Silver Arrows, and as far as fallbacks go, things could’ve gone worse for Ocon.

That said, now the silly season rumours shift to Nico Hulkenberg, and where he might land. Will it be Red Bull, Haas, or somewhere else? I guess we’ll see…

First Cracks in Renault-McLaren Relationship? A customer team looking to Renault for answers after an engine failure costs them a result – hmm, for some reason I feel like we’ve been here before…

Out on the opening lap while his teammate lost a promising P5 due to failed power units, I don’t think anyone can blame Carlos Sainz for taking a little shot at the French manufacturer. Such happenings are never acceptable, but particularly considering this is year six of the V6-turbo era, and Renault are still having double-DNFs happen due to engine failures, it’s just embarrassing.

On a related note, it would certainly be remarkable if that Marca report turned out to be true, and the team opted for a return to Mercedes power. How different would the last five years had been had they never parted?

Ericsson to replace Giovinazzi? Suffice to say, Antonio Giovinazzi has not exactly set the world alight in his first full season in F1, and now the rumours have started that he could see it end prematurely should he not deliver a strong performance in Monza, with Marcus Ericsson set to replace him.

As disappointing as that would be for the young Italian, it would also make a lot of sense for Alfa Romeo. Ericsson is a known quantity who brings with him a decent chunk of cash, and while he’s not going to push Kimi Raikkonen, he’s also more likely to keep it out of the wall. Giovinazzi simply hasn’t contributed anything of significance in his 13 races so far – how likely is that to change with another eight?

Vettel the Number Two at Ferrari? A reaction that I think we all saw coming in the wake of Charles Leclerc’s victory in Belgium, the whole “is Seb Vettel still Ferrari’s number one driver?” discussion has been really kicked into overdrive. I’ll admit, I’ve done my part in the past to further that narrative, and yet while I’m certainly glad Vettel is being provided some competition, I still think it’s a tad premature.

The thing is, with the absolute disaster 2019 has been for the Scuderia in the championship standings, it’s also given them a fantastic opportunity post-summer break to let their drivers have a straight fight without the need for politicking. Right now, Leclerc is winning that battle, but there’s eight races still to go. Let’s see how Seb responds.

RIP Anthoine Hubert: There’s really nothing I want to add to what I said on Monday about this terrible tragedy, but as this is undoubtedly the story of the week, it would be remiss if I didn’t include it here. Our thoughts continue to be with the Hubert family, as well as Juan-Manuel Correa, who we wish a speedy recovery as he continues his recuperation in the UK.