Formula 1 Summer Break Part One: Canadian Buys F1 Team; Ricciardo Takes a French Roll
This is the time not to be a formula one journalist, fan or driver.
Maybe because between the end of the Hungarian Grand Prix and the next race in 13 days in Belgium, many have read the same old material, desperately waiting on probably the most interesting silly season in years. Who will go where, and when will the grid finally be completed for 2019?
Many of the drivers go elsewhere on this break where they cannot be found, some do PR events just to waste the time. For fans, it is the waiting to see when the next race will happen, to criticize, and to bring anything up for the world of social media, which is the current and proper name for citizen journalist (remember that name?). And of course, for the writers, who are waiting for the next bait to be held out, so they can hook onto it and inform the public.
Considering that we are in the preliminary stages of this break, there has been some startling news that came out of Red Bull Racing, when last week Daniel Ricciardo announced that he would be signing a two-year, 70-million-dollar contract with Red Bull’s recent adversary, Renault. In addition, the French team, who had rumored that they would be signing up countryman Esteban Ocon, threw a joker in the deck again by signing current driver Nico Hulkenberg to an extension to join the Australian.
This event makes the silly season become wide open just when it seemed that Ricciardo would resign with the Austrian team and become the teammate of already based Max Verstappen.
Even the British Racing magazine, F1 Racing, recently published an article in their last issue, almost nearly guaranteeing that Ricciardo would sign for another couple of seasons. So, what changed Ricciardo’s mind? Mainly the Australian viewed the writing on the wall when it seemed obvious that the attention was going to Verstappen, despite his erratic type of driving that is beginning to get better. Ricciardo felt that there was a threat from the Dutchman and even if he was talking to McLaren, Ricciardo felt that the French team, which is one of three works f1 teams on the grid, would have more money, and more of a future to spend much on developing their team. This is an issue that Red Bull would have to depend on a customer and will be working next season with a works engine deal (haven’t they done this before?) with Honda. So, the best thing to do? Upset Christian Horner, Helmut Marko and Red Bull General Manager Didi Mateschitz, by signing for a rival who will not supply them engines anymore for next season. Au revoir!
The next bit of news saved formula one itself. A few days ago, it looked like Force India were on the verge of staying in administration following the claim filed by current driver Sergio Perez. But the idea of that happening ended when Canadian billionaire Laurence Stroll, who son Lance currently drives for Williams, brought out the team, saving it from the rest of what happens when a team loses its money (just ask Lotus years ago). Both Pérez and Ocon must fight it out for a position next season because Lance junior will thanks to dad, take one of the seats, probably forcing Perez to look elsewhere which could be Haas F1, since the team cannot get an American and Mexico is next door. It is good for the teams’ additional sponsorship and for a fan base in the United States. Only this can happen if Romain Grosjean gets let go. One person who could be thankful for this change is Williams reserve driver Robert Kubica, who could replace Stroll by the next race in Belgium. If this occurs, one or the other Force India driver might have to sit it out on gardening leave until picked for next year at another team. But this still must be determined.
But the rest is still coming up: Kimi Raikkonen to Ferrari for another year, Kevin Magnussen the same for Haas, and many other seats still up for grabs as the next few weeks approach Belgium. So, get ready fans for more writing, more rumors and more trips to the internet for famous and greatest comments. It might get boring, but it cannot be this way forever, can it?
A 16 year veteran of writing formula one racing weekend race reports, features and team launches, Mark has worked for such companies as all-sports, e-sports, The Munich Eye newspaper in Germany, racingnation.com and Autoweek. A former member for this site four years ago, Mark now is a contributor for R.I.S.