Formula 1, Daniel Ricciardo, Mario Andretti, and Flavio Briatore in particular, invaded my thoughts over the weekend as race week beckons.
Usually for me the weekend is a time for disassociating from anything that might be remotely related to everyday work activities so that mental disengagement is enabled to such a degree that the world seems to pass by without any form of acknowledgement, or so I’m led to believe from those closest to me.
For the most part the observation is probably a fair one, even though I am sure that I have a much greater interest in what is happening around me than it might appear, but because the past week was a busy one juggling nine to five responsibilities, with this horrid affliction that I suffer from that compels me to wear my finger tips to the bone so that my need to contribute in a constructive manner to the GrandPrix247 community is satisfied, my cerebral matter has gone into an over-run that can only be dwelled by the catharsis of another written piece.
Porsche, Audi, and Andretti
Only a matter of days ago the FIA announced that the 2026 Formula 1 Power Unit Regulations had been ratified, which probably means we are just a little bit closer to the formal announcement that almost seems a fait accompli: that Porsche and Audi will be joining the sport as PU suppliers at the very least, and possibly even as Constructors.
In light of the new PU regulations, and the FIA’s focus on driving down costs, it seems as though interest in F1 globally is not just confined exclusively to the consumer, as there are murmurings that certain Korean and US-based OEM’s are also interested in joining the party, and it leaves me curious as to what the status of the Andretti application to join F1 is.
There are a couple of issues at play here.
Firstly, it seems possible that entry to the sport could becoming exclusive to OEM’s only. I can’t help but feel it important that F1 promotes the concept of sustainable independent or Garagista entries because they are a key part of the sports heritage, and there’s no reason why they should be strategically shut out of its future.
Secondly, apparently the authoritative body that determines which applicants are accepted to compete in F1, the FIA, is not independent in making those decisions, but rather is making them in deference to existing entrants, particularly those with more F1 political clout, which hardly seems independent, just, or unbiased.
Surely, if the FIA as F1’s governing body has a set of criteria that needs to be met, and a process that needs to be followed in any application for entry to the sport, it has nothing to do whatsoever with existing entrants.
When you play in someone else’s backyard, shouldn’t you expect to play by that person’s rules?
It seems terribly out of place to me that any comment about an Andretti application to join F1 has its value to the sport publicly questioned by anyone but the FIA.
Flav isn’t coming back!
Honestly, I shouldn’t have been surprised when the rumour mill went into overdrive recently when a holiday snap of Stefano Domenicali, Toto Wolff, and Flavio Briatore together made its way to social media, but it is far from providing evidence that Flav is planning a grand return to F1.
Whilst Flav has given up smoking and excessive alcohol consumption for a healthier lifestyle lately, he has had a kidney removed due to cancer, a compromised immune system as a result, and more recently almost died from COVID.
At the age of 72, Flav has a reported personal fortune approaching USD$500 million, and with the health issues he has, I hardly think a return to F1 in any capacity beyond the occasional paddock visit to catch up with old friends would be on his agenda, let alone the fact that as time has passed the way business is conducted in F1 has progressed too far for him to be of much value to any team, anyway.
The Ricciardo Dilemma
Here we are. It’s the final few days of F1’s annual summer break and everyone will be packing their luggage and getting ready to travel to Spa, and the paddock will be buzzing with all the gossip coming out of the big announcement made the moment they had all passed through the Budapest exit gate, that Fernando Alonso would be leaving Alpine at the conclusion of this season for Aston Martin on a two year deal to replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel.
However, it’s not a simple and straightforward in and out replacement, because the matter has been complicated by the announcement made soon after that Alonso’s assumed successor, Oscar Piastri simply will not be driving for Alpine in 2023, as he has reportedly been signed up to the Zack Brown vision at McLaren.
Unfortunately for Daniel Ricciardo, who has been given ample opportunity by a very patient and forgiving employer to demonstrate his true value and adapt to the nuances unique to the car he is paid to wring the neck of, which he has been unable to do, the cold hard truth is that his time in F1 is up.
Time in F1 waits for no-one, and nor should it.
Nevertheless, I have a suspicion that his future in open wheel racing is interwoven with his current employer, McLaren, who have an Indycar team, McLarens legal issues regarding the Palou/Ganassi issue, and his own love for everything USA, where he has once again spent all his F1 down time.
Daniel loves the US, he would either be a great fit straight into the McLaren Indycar team, or a perfect asset in the litigation between McLaren and Ganassi over Palou, and Indycar would simply jump at the opportunity to have Ricciardo, who the US identifies as Drive to Survive’s prime celebrity, onboard in the series.
In the US, Daniel Ricciardo is box office, and he’d do well in IndyCar.