With the whodunnit Oscar Piastri mystery now solved, we can start to speculate who will be left without a seat when the Formula 1 Silly Season” music stops. Gu’day mate…
Partnering with Lando Norris will not be an easy gig for the F1 newcomer. A task made harder by the level of expectation that has been heaped on his shoulders by his manager and to a lesser degree, by himself.
People equate dollars with driver value. “Toeing” the older Aussie (Ricciardo) out the door to make room for the young one, has cost Zak Brown a big wedge of cash. Consequently, unlike other 2023 “noobs” he should expect no “free pass” in the first season.
He doesn’t have to beat Norris, but he will need to be within a couple of tenths in qualifying and within 3 positions at the finish on race day. Something a more experienced, and in a previous incarnation, very quick driver could not do.
Neither should he expect a helping hand from his teammate. Norris is all about himself and publicly so. A chat with his departing compatriot would be a wise move prior to his inauguration.
Meanwhile, it looks ever more likely that F1 will say goodbye to the ostensive inventor of the “shoey” and all-around nice guy – Daniel Ricciardo. None of the teams appears to be making overtures in his direction which is a shame.
However, if he’s not in F1 then for sure he’ll find a home in Indycars. I feel that with Daniel’s magnetic personality and pace he could be a huge success in the US, both on and off the track.
Schwan song? Talking of F1 departures, it would seem that the bromance between Ferrari and Mick “a bit quicker this weekend” Schumacher is finally over.
I have to hand it to him, he stepped up to the plate in Zandvoort by debuting in Q3. He’s a nice guy, but too much for F1. He did try to showcase his feisty side by having a tête-à-tête with “Uncle Seb” at T1. However, this is probably all “too little too late”.
He will almost certainly be replaced with Ferrari’s favoured son – Antonio Giovinazzi., returning to F1 after a sabbatical in Formula E. However, the Italian may prove to be more “out of the frying pan and into the fire” for Haas.
No Bull here
Meanwhile, the “good Doctor” has publicly made it clear that there is no place for Mick at Red Bull, suggesting he is not “their type”. Which is a good thing for him as I don’t think the “Marko School of Driver Development” would do him any good. It has broken stronger pilots.
What is Red Bull’s type though is the American race driver – Colton Herta. “Type” is a relative term, normally we might associate it with a driver that has the potential to win. Although in this case, I think it’s about selling more of the heart-bumping cough mixture in the US, something Mick cannot help with. However, Pierre Gasly can now he’s off to “Les Bleus” leaving a space for the “continental”.
Bon Chance Les Bleus
Freed from the mental and contractual shackles of Red Bull, Gasly is set to join Alpine and partner with his compatriot, Esteban Ocon. I believe this will come as a welcome relief to him, much in the way it has done for Albon, although Ocon will be more of a foil for him than Tsunoda.
Ocon on the other hand favoured the “low hanging fruit” of Mick Schumacher of course. Especially as there is not a lot of love lost between himself and Gasly.
Billed as the creation of a new “French Super Team”, the partnering of these two Gallic drivers will surely produce some fireworks. The question is, will it turn out to be more sacré bleu than Vive la France?
Neither of them is known for conceding “turf” easily to their teammates. As they seek to become the racing amour of their nation, we can expect even less latitude. This could be expensive for Alpine!
Can I have some more Dad?
Unsurprisingly, it appears that Nicholas Latifi’s “Bank of Dad” is almost out of funds. With Latifi jr. almost out of F1 time. The spectre of Nyck De Vries lurking in the background last weekend suggests the writing is now on the pit box wall.
This can only be good news for a Williams Team whose car has been resurgent at the hands of Albon in the last two Grand Prix, and reliably at the back in those of Latifi’s.
Tsunoda saved by the Bull
With the relationship between Porsche and Red Bull now seemingly on the rocks, it is good news for the Honda-favoured Yuki Tsunoda. His position must surely be safe at AlphaTauri now that Honda will play a bigger role at RBPT.
The young Japanese driver is entertaining both in the car and on the radio. To lose him would be a pity. On the downside, a bag of cats is easier to handle than his on-track temperament.
He has talent, but he needs to channel his aggression and control his emotions to be successful. If he can do this, he may well have to rely less on his sponsors in the future.
Finally, after one of the most exciting races this season at Zandvoort, we now move to Monza. A track that is unlikely to produce the same level of entertainment and can best be summed up as “gas, brake, gas, brake, gas, brake, gas…”.
Can Ferrari bring an end to a season of hurt with victory at the home race? I don’t think so. Red Bull has momentum, something Lady Luck tends to favour over inertia.