Driver gossip

The announcement in Austin that Jolyon Palmer will be one of the Lotus F1 drivers next year was something of a surprise. There are only three seats left (Gutierrez will be announced shortly at Haas) and so it is a buyer’s market and so one would expect teams to sit back and listen to all the tall tales of youngsters with $25 million to spend (and yadda yadda yadda…). Signing Palmer was, therefore, a little out of place. The only suitable explanation for this was that JP Jr has got the job because he was able to pay money up front, which helps the team to survive as it waits for the plodding process required as Renault takes over the Enstone team again. There is no real need to rush because Renault will not get anything much out of the rest of this year and so probably doesn’t want to pay for it. Once the season comes to a close I expect things to begin moving more quickly but again there is not much point in trying to rebrand the team for 2016 because that is going to be a rebuilding year and I suspect that the rebranding will not happen until 2017, when hopefully the team will be more solid and more competitive. It should by then have a stronger engineering staff, a new team principal (Bonjour Fréderic Vasseur), and at least one big name driver. If you can cast your mind back 15 years, you may remember that Renault bought Benetton Formula in March 2000, but it was not relaunched as Renault F1 until the start of 2002.

The team has lost Romain Grosjean to Haas and he is excited about the future. Haas is keen to promote F1 in the United States and will, no doubt, have noticed yesterday when the NASCAR calendar came out that the two schedules might allow Romain the chance to try a little stock car racing on the two road courses that NASCAR visits. The first is at Sears Point (aka Sonoma) on June 26, which is the weekend between the Baku European Grand Prix on June 19 and the Austrian GP on July 3. Similarly, he could appear at Watkins Glen on August 7, as this is a week after the German GP at Hockenheim on July 31. Having a Frenchman in NASCAR might sound a little like the movie Talladega Nights, but it would it be great publicity for both.

There is similar crossover potential with Juan Pablo Montoya testing a Porsche 919 soon in Bahrain. The American market is of key importance to Porsche and so it was logical that they try to find a big name known in the US. Montoya fits the bill not only because he has raced in IndyCar and NASCAR, but is also an accomplished sports car driver, having won the Daytona 24 Hours on three occasions (2007, 2008 and 2013) in Chip Ganassi-run prototypes.Montoya could fit Le Mans in between IndyCar races in Texas (June 11) and Road America (June 26).

The slot is available because one of this year’s winners, Nico Hulkenberg, will not be able to defend his vistory because a Formula 1 race in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest, which organises Le Mans, is furious at the scheduling, which it sees as a direct attack. I doubt Bernie gives a toss about Le Mans, but it a good way to slap the FIA in the head, because previously the federation insisted that the Le Mans weekend should be free of other major events.

Also worth watching is Kevin Magnussen’s Porsche test, as he needs a job in 2016 and a win at Le Mans would help him get back into F1 in 2017 if he cannot get a drive this year.

You might also watch out for Stoffel Vandoorne turning up in a Honda-powered car in the Super Formula in Japan, a good way to keep race-sharp while dove-tailing with his duties as McLaren’s test, reserve and simulator driver. That would ensure he is ready to succeed Jenson Button in 2017

150 thoughts on “Driver gossip

  1. So it is wrong for me to think shame was Bernie’s reason for trying to elide Baku behind LeMans on the same weekend.

  2. Bernie has always had it out for Endurance Racing. Remember he killed Group C in the 80’s … and almost won in killing Indy cars… I doubt if Magnussen raced for Porsche that would get him back into F-1 …

    1. If only some F1 drivers would skip the Baku round and drive at Le Mans and traveling European fans skip the event and head to La Sarthe, it would be the perfect sting at Bernie. Not that it will happen (I know teams won’t allow their drivers to do that, though traveling fans could probably skip it), but if it did…can’t imagine how Bernie’s face would be on the Baku grid!

    2. Lets see if a modern version of Brundle winning Le Mans and returning to F1 is possible. The other scenarios are Montoya winning the triple crown, or McLaren test driver Turvey winning – that’d make Alonso jealous.

      Seems like Porsche are chasing drivers who can add to the PR gain of winning Le Mans, which also says a lot about what exposure you can get from WEC.

  3. Absolutely top notch reporting, Joe. Really appreciate it. Having watched very closely the F-1 race in Austin, Texas, I remain convinced that Hamilton is a flawed driver along the lines of Schumacher. Yes, both have lots of titles, but neither is the caliber of a Stirling Moss or a Jim Clark or a Juan Fangio. What makes a truly great driver is the way they do it or at least attempt it. Moss “should” have had the title on multiple occasions, but that’s life. Hamilton’s running Rosberg clean off the circuit on the first lap, and his teammate, is unforgivable. Michael did the same crap to Montoya and to Villeneuve and Hill and it just taints his legacy; ditto for Senna and the crap that went on with Prost. I’m 61 and all these years later, one of these guys compare with Clark, Stewart, Hill, Fangio, Brooks and Moss, least not for me. Class is class, regardless of the time and era.

      1. It was technically legal but not exactly playing fairly. It was unfortunate that rosberg fell for it hook line and sinker, again.

            1. I see that myself but I would contest that he (Lewis) could feel what grip he had and was still going quite fast when entering the corner – where I agree that he was far from full lock – BUT he clearly felt he would have lost control if he’d turned-in any harder.
              So my question is, should he have been going that fast at that point? and my view is yes, because he’s an F1 racing driver going for the Championship, it isn’t Baby Sensory, and besides he had the inside line and was fully alongside Nico at that point.

              IF Nico had got as good a start as Lewis or IF that first straight was another 100m longer this would all be academic…

          1. Joe, shall we say…that analysis is ‘basic’.

            I sheet 85% of the blame of Lewis. I agree with Toto’s assessment: “I think Nico has reason to be upset for that particular incident. It was too hard and we need to pick it up and discuss it.”

            I also feel that Lewis’s response was, er, ‘convenient’. And disingenuous too. “The outside is always the grippier side, so Nico had the grippier line, but I was ahead so it was my line. We went in, I started to turn but I just understeered into him. We touched but I don’t feel like I was aggressive.”

            It’s tough at the top and I acknowledge that to get to the top you have to have, in the Aussie vernacular, a bit of mongrel in you. But the thing that is concerning me about some of Lewis’s tactics with Nico is that it’s evoking in my mind something of the ‘assumption of the right to get by’ that I so disliked with Senna and Schumacher.

            Yes, as they approached the apex, Lewis was fractionally ahead. He didn’t get anywhere near the (inside) edge of the track at the apex and so it’s quite believable that he understeered wide. But this isn’t exactly the first start Lewis has done in an F1 car and he knows, as they all know, that tyres not quite up to temperature on a cool day are more than likely going to get you running wide in the first couple of corners at least. So my problem with Lewis is that he went barrelling in, pretty confident that he could browbeat Nico and equally confident that if there was some slight contact, as there was, he would stay on the track and Nico would be obliged to run even wider. So I’m worried that Lewis is adopting Senna and Schumacher’s sense of entitlement.

              1. Also, Lewis started 5-10 metres behind (? not sure the distance between grid slots..) Nico and on a damp track managed to be alongside him by the first corner and it’s uphill too.. Nico should have defended more aggressively.

            1. I think if you look at the race again you will see that time after time Hamilton has real trouble with turn one, he is always taking it wide and slowing as he tries to not go out of bounds.
              Of the two, Hamilton does not have the habit of making contact. I too see a slide, or uncontrolled move past a point in the turn, the FIA never gives a penalty for such a move unless you damage the other car, no damage no fine.
              Minus the contact I feel that move was a little extreme but the FIA did not and we have seen far far worse in the last few years. I call it within the bounds of what I have seen for some time, like it or not.

            2. Penn

              My attention was drawn to an online article explaining the rules of racing regarding driving and the grey areas around them with examples drawn from the last five years or so.

              Schumacher featured as did the incidents at last year’s Canadian and Spa Grand Prix’s between Rosberg and Hamilton.

              The Canadian Grand Prix you will recall was where Rosberg was on pole and going into the first corner behind(slightly) Hamilton locked up and Hamilton had to take avoiding action by going off the track as he was required to because Rosberg had the inside line.

              Robust but fair.

              A couple of months later Rosberg decided that he would not take avoiding action and the rest is history.

              Last weekend was in many ways very similar to Canada except that in Canada Hamilton was farther ahead.

              Robust but fair Racing is the reason I watch F1 and Hamilton is a great exponent of it.

            3. the way I judge that corner is, what would Nico have done on the inside? Answer, exactly the same. The difference is that Nico keeps his car there in the hope he can get past – he should have known he’d lost that corner before getting into it.

              Russia, roles revered, Hamilton backed out as he knew Nico had the line – by backing out he kept his position and thought I’ll get him later – Nico doesn’t think like that and loses positions every time because of it

              1. I wonder if Nico’s post race anger over this manoeuvre could be attributed more to his race losing mistake?

                He was annoyed at himself and petulance prevailed?

    1. Nico should have slotted in behind, that would have been the sensible thing to do. It was Lewis’s corner. He’s an intelligent guy but he has a blind spot with Lewis because of their personal history together. I think he showed himself up on Sunday, which is a shame for someone otherwise so bright.

    2. The incident between Nico & Lewis on T1 was an accident,
      someone misjudged their braking on a damp greasy track.

      Nico is a very quick driver, one of the best. Never forget he regularly outpaced his team mate, Michael Schumacer, at Mercedes… now what was going on there?

      1. He regularly outpaced an old Michael Schumacher. It doesn’t take anything away from Schumacher’s success in his previous F1 career…no matter how much the British F1 press want to make that the case.

          1. Hi Joe

            I’m curious about this comment, because in his first career, he did seem to be a cut above everyone else. I really was no fan of the man back then (I was and still am a Hill/Montaya fan), but seeing replays of old grand prix and interviews, reminds me of why. He was smug, arrogant, unlikable, played dirty, but damn quick. I think in his second career, much of all that had disappeared, but that could just be a trick of the light so to speak.

            When you have a moment would you be able elaborate on your comment at all? I’d imagine a lot people would be interested.


                  1. The 1994 Benetton. Came up advertised in the press a few years back with a mysterious description of supposedly banned tech….! As previously described by Nigel Roebuck in disparaging terms

              1. If, let’s say, Ferrari or Shell or Bridgestone had used some loopholes or downright illegal tricks that weren’t discovered at the time, then even if someone knew about that from the best imaginable sources, he wouldn’t be able to talk about that because it would be almost impossible to prove those claims, leaving him vulnerable to libel claims.

                1. Even if that is the case. Performances like Spain 96 or his qualifying lap at Monaco in 2012 still show him in rather a good light?

            1. Schumacher drove in an era when everything in the car and the team could be, and was undeniably, tailored exactly to his desires. He always had a strict #2 in the other car; his Bridgestone tires were tailored to his and Ferrari’s desires (the other B-Stone runners had to make due); his team had a strong sway over the governing body with the regs and the enforcement of those regs (remember the Barge Board fiasco? Illegal then legal!); and he drove in an environment where he could test and test and optimize his extra advantages to the nth degree. Additionally, he was active at the beginning of the era of super-engineering as I think of it. F1 engineers always had the ingenuity in past eras, but the technological tools and computing power available to them to maximize it, grew fantastically in the early Noughties. Many drivers throughout history could only dream of having such.

              When he came back with MB, he didn’t suddenly lose his skill due to being three years older, but many of those advantages he’d enjoyed in his heyday at Ferrari were no longer available to him. The playing field was a lot more level.

              1. Schumacher was a real Titan, aged well over 40 he was still the fastest driver around Monaco, the most daring of all circuits. It’s very sad to see in what condition he is today, he certainly didn’t deserve this.

          2. Even us outsiders know he wasn’t as good as a number of drivers with fewer wins and titles. And I do not think Lewis is a dirty driver, let alone to be compared with MS.

          3. You seem to have some sort of vendetta against Schumacher, leave him be, most people respect that he was a great driver but clearly flawed like many great champions. you can’t be deluded enough to think that a 43 year old man is as good as he was at 25?

              1. What is there to learn, that we don’t know already, I might ask? We do know everything about crash gate, about spy gate too amongst other things, what else could be kept secret about Schumacher that serious F1 journalists can’t spot or are afraid to tell?

                  1. I understand you can’t give any more information, but this is an interesting insight miost of us have no clue about. Are we talking Lance Armstrong hush-hush-nobody-knows kind of thing? Or should we seek it in the technical side, the cars? I’m intriged…

            1. Although I can only assume what Joe is referring to, I suggest you read what Geoff wrote above as that seems to be the general consensus amongst fans (then and now). Schumacher’s success, particularly at Ferrari, felt artificial at the time, and is blatantly obvious in hindsight.

            2. I don’t think there is a vendetta or something similar going on, however I believe if Ferrari and Schumacher were of some Commonwealth nationality then the appreciation in the english speaking media would be very different. However this is my personal observation and I might be wrong, though.

          4. Joe> One day you will learn why MS is not as highly rated by insiders as he is by fans

            I’m guessing that that explanation might include the words “Tad” and “Czapski”?…

    3. How many races back when Moss, Clark and Fangio were driving were you able to watch with live coverage, 3 different cameras at every corner of the race track, with full video replay, onboard footage and sky pad video replays?

      I imagine the on track antics of your heroes just weren’t recorded well enough for people to have an opinion, and journalists were far less inclined in those days to report negatively.

      1. I’d wager that the issue was perhaps more to do with safety – modern drivers can be a bit more aggressive in their cars safe in the knowledge that even in the worst case they’ll almost certainly walk away. Fangio, Clark and Moss didn’t have that safety net to push the boundaries.

        1. There are examples of drivers being particularly aggressive and reckless on track in the 1960’s and 1970’s though, even though the consequences of a crash in that era were quite severe.

          Brabham was particularly notorious for his aggression on track – for example, in 1969 he deliberately rammed Piers Courage on the cool down lap of the US GP because he was annoyed that Williams was using his old BT26A to race in F1 and wanted to financially ruin Williams with the cost of repairing the car. Furthermore, Murray Walker mentioned that Bruce McLaren told him how Brabham deliberately and repeatedly rammed him off the track in one British GP.

          Equally, Fittipaldi has mentioned in the past that, in the 1970’s, most of the drivers on the grid thought that Regazzoni shouldn’t have been allowed onto the grid because of his recklessness on track and that Regazzoni ran him off the track in the 1974 US GP in an attempt to stop him taking the title. There are anecdotal reports of Pedro Rodriguez having a habit of zig zagging across a straight to block rivals, whilst Jody Scheckter was so reckless in his early years that the GPDA came close to having him banned from the sport altogether.

          As Limelee comments, there is therefore a question over whether the drivers of that era were necessarily as courteous as we think they are in retrospect, or whether some of the dirtier moments of their driving simply went unrecorded.

    4. Sorry Major, but isn’t 1950 anymore racing is very different. All drivers in that race have done the same thing in the past at different times in their career, so singling out Lewis smacks of something else.

  4. What do think of Palmer as a driver? He seems to have his dad’s intelligence and work ethic, but how do you rate him on raw talent by comparison?

          1. Joe, don’t you think Alexander Rossi made a strong debut at Singapore and was great at Austin too? He seems to have a great future in F1…

              1. if he doesn’t get squeezed by money issues….but I think AR deserves a spot.

                As a Dutchmen of course we’re happy with Max’s performance. But Sainz’s race performance in Austin was very good as well. Although it is easier to come back from behind in changeable conditions (but just as easy to fall back…). With regards to MV, I especially like his manoeuvre on Felipe Nasr in Monza, there you really see his feel for the car and grip by not locking up.

  5. I must say that I was impressed with seeing Romain on a bike with a stars and stipes bandana and talking about the American life style, including some brand names only a few days after he got on board at Haas.

    Shows there is someone in the team who knows how to do marketing and how to build it up. Made me wonder whether any of the brands mentioned will / might make their names onto the Haas cars too. And I can easily imagine Grosjean making those appearances at the NASCAR races you mentioned.

    After not expecting too much of Haas until now, it actually got me interested. If they go on into this path, it might show the F1 world how a well thought out media strategy can really make a difference.

  6. Joe is it possible Kimi could stage a walkout on Ferrari halfway through 2016 if he is still being trounced by Vettel next season ? Could Ferrari even sack him mid season if he fails to improve?

      1. It’ll hinge on the Ferrari car. If they genuinely close the gap to Mercedes, Raikkonen might cost them the constructor’s championship. If they’re a clear and safe second, it’ll be cheaper to run down his contract.

  7. As always Joe, fascinating stuff! On something of a tangent occasioned by the F1/sportscar intersection: I am about half way through Max Mosley’s autobiography. Its a fascinating read, largely because of how Max shades his description of events and his role in them, and because of things he omits to mention. I was wondering whether you’ve read it, and if you have any thoughts on what Max had to say.

    More generally, I was wondering whether there were any F1 biographies/autobiographies/histories that you particularly liked or found particularly enlightening.

  8. It is quite amazing to realize then when Verstappen is as old as Stoffel is when Stoffel enters F1 in 2017, he would have raced for 7 seasons.

  9. That whole charade with KMAG not being released from his McLaren duties until after the driver market had taken shape…I know it’s a tough business and it’s F1 etc but…it was even his birthday!

  10. I liked the comment that Lotus has got the 2 slowest and best funded gp2 champions,,,I really dont see that much in Vandoorne and along now with Nasr Ericcson and Guitterez formula 1 must have one of the poorest midfields ever, what did Sam Bird do not to have a drive?

    1. Sam Bird? Lol. His main talent was and is still in schmoozing his personal sponsors to cough up the required amounts to go racing. He showed his true class in Abu Dhabi when he had a chance of the GP2 title and choked it on the start line. If you are looking for British talent, then possibly Oliver Rowland (although I am not convinced he has the work ethic) and Alex Lynn are your best bets. All others are average and flounced up by the British media to be more than they are.

      1. In terms of Brits, I think Oliver Rowland is somewhere between a Palmer and a Stevens based on FR performances. The work ethic’s got better in the last year or so I think.

        George Russell looked very impressive in F4 in 2014 and did well for a debut year in Euro F3 too – can see him ‘making it’ in a few years.

        Agree that Lynn’s probably best placed at the moment – maybe something of a shot at a Williams drive for 2017 – depending on sponsors and who else is available?

        Dean Stoneman’s the one I’d love to see get a chance – better early pedigree than Palmer – until his health issues forced him to take time away – and still seems to have the speed – Red Bull’s backing may give him half a chance too.

        1. Russell has just driven a McLaren F1 car as well for winning the McLaren Autosport BRDC award. He and Lando Norris are really showing potential at a young age.

          Stoneman was unlucky again – I think he has missed out on a superlicence for 2016, partly through a pit lane speeding 20 second time penalty. Not sure how that will affect his Red Bull backing.

      2. If we’re just mentioning feeder series drivers that we watch, I always look in on the fellow who got into cars from the Playstation racing games route, Mardenborough(?) in GP3.

  11. I’d love to see Grosjean or any F1 driver try the two NASCAR road courses. Of course SHR is at their full complement of four drivers with Stewart, Harvick, Kurt Busch and Danica so they may have to find another team to put Grosjean with.
    Watkins Glen is on the NBC network which has the USA F1 package so they might give Grosjean some publicity.
    NASCAR also announced signing five year contracts with all their tracks. They do have great stability in tracks and dates and they own 13 tracks that have 19 races but this strikes me as a very good idea.
    FWIW I went to the October NASCAR race at Dover and Danica Patrick was probably 5th in loudest applause and cheers in the driver introduction. She may not have good results but she has a sizable fan base.

      1. Smoke will retire after 2016. Bowyer will take the seat for 2017.

        Even with 4 teams Stewart-Haas could run a rookie in a limited schedule. It’s not going to happen with Grosjean, though. He might get a test or fun run but they aren’t going to have him run a Cup race.

        Behind Jr Danica is the second largest fan favorite in terms of merchandise sales and overall popularity.

          1. They could get Grosjean a ride in the support series Xfinity which races the day before. You do see some open wheel and sports car drivers at their road races. Of course if you have a chance of winning, a regular will take you out without any fear of repercussion as Alex Tagliani will confirm.

        1. Ah, didn’t know that, I thought it was after this year as he’s so low in the standings. There’s quite a few youngsters coming through now who were active on iRacing, depending on how many rides they can get etc., while Dale Jr himself gave up as it was ingraining bad habits into his muscle memory 😛

  12. Joe,
    I realize it’s not driver related, but do you think there’s any truth to this weekend’s rumors of Honda possibly supplying engines to Red Bull?

  13. Great to see Jolyon is going to be on the F1 grid next year. I know that Jonathan has been working very hard to bring this about.If GP2 is a true feeder for F1 it is important to have the series champions in F1.

  14. I think the Renault/Benetton re branding was more protracted as they had a credible sponsor. Unless we are going to go back to Renault powered Lotus cars, Europa anyone, I think Renault will re brand sooner rather than later.

    Who actually pays to have the Lotus branding anyway? Is it still Malaysian money or am I off piste there…?

  15. Joe, Great stuff. Speaking of teammates, did Fangio let Moss pass him at Aintree at the end of the 1955 British Grand Prix?

      1. Jumping in a bit late here, but in researching a story on that race a few months ago (don’t worry, I won’t post the link, Joe), I came across the Times’ post-race story which said Moss addressed the crowd after the grand prix. They paraphrased his comments as follows:

        “Fangio—the greatest driver in the world—could easily have come up and made a different story of the race, but being the sportsman he is, Fangio had given him the opportunity of realizing his ambition to win the Grand Prix.”

        Not definitive, but it seems Moss certainly thought Fangio allowed him to win.

  16. Palmer Junior, Verstappen Junior, Sainz Junior… this doesn’t reflect well on the sport.

    It reminds of my university admission time, when one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met wasn’t offered an Oxford place, but a comparative dimwit friend was. Guess whose Daddy was a Oxford Old Boy.

      1. Andretti (nearly 2 of them), Stuck, Brabham, Fittipaldi, Nakajima, Winkelhock,…. Nearly a Stewart, a Schumacher brother, nearly a Warwick brother.. etc… etc… nothing new here,.

        1. Don’t forget Jimmy Stewart either. He was a bit of a hotshoe in his time and beat little brother JYS to a World Championship entry by more than a decade.

    1. It might suggest that there’s something genetic in racing ability – also the children of racing drivers tend to start in karts about five minutes after they can walk – that sort of head start is hard to reproduce.

      Besides which Verstappen Junior seems better than senior and you can’t honestly say nepotism precluded raw talent there.

      1. Why would “world class” racing ability be genetic, but world class tennis/football/sprinting/golf ability not?

        Verstappen Junior is the exception, he is excellent, most of them are par at best (I’ll include WDC Hill in that par lot, he had the best car by far).

        1. Tennis/football/sprinting etc. at a world class level all require a very high level of athleticism. Male sporting superstars tend to have kids with pretty petite woman, and not woman sports stars. Sports star genes plus pretty petite genes gets you average athleticism.

          Of course there will be outliers in this theory…..

    2. I am pretty sure this is a common theme in a lot of different racing categories. It is only natural for some kids to look up to their parents and wish to emulate their success. Some do, some don’t, but many try.

  17. Are the good people of Baku a tad annoyed that some of the Press may be in Le Mans rather than Baku/ I thought the aim of these races was to gain mass positive publicity for the country.

    1. There is not much crossover between the F1 and sportscar press corp. Most likely, F1 will take precedence in lieu of the clash.

      1. For anyone who isn’t strictly an F1-only fan but who has any general interest in motorsport, Le Mans will be a way bigger mark in their calendar than one of those newly-created-in-Unheardistan-looking-bloodless-and-artificial-short-lived F1 events that have only cash and politics behind them. If I were Hulkenberg, I’d have asked for a clause in my contract that says I can skip whatever F1 race in 2016 if it clashes with Le Mans – especially after taking the overall win this year on his first try! It also wouldn’t hurt FI to have someone in the car for one race only who brings some cash. Maybe Mallya doesn’t realize that Hulkenberg’s LM win reflected much more positively on Force India than a lot of other things the team has been in the news for over the years.

  18. I still maintain that Formula 1 has lost something by not giving Sam Bird a job,its not a fair world or Ligier would have given the wonderful Richard Dallest a drive back in the day……

  19. One question, Palmer has a contract signed with Lotus F1 people, but what happens with that contract if Renault takes over already in 2016 and (hypothetically) competes as Renault F1? Concerning industrial law, Palmer would get a new employer and, as we have a case of business transfer, I am not sure if Renault f1 is obliged to take over the old contracts? As you will remember, there was a big fuzz about the Villeneuve case when BMW took over.

    1. Its quite clear that if Renault wants to take over the team, with the FOM contract/rights etc, that they will be doing so taking over the existing company Mistral Mike. That also means they take over all existing obligations / contracts unless there is a specific part of that contract that allows for one of the parties to the contract to cancel the deal in case of a change of ownership/management.
      Confirming Maldonado was clearly tied to having received the sponsorship money from PDVSA for 2016 and its almost certainly alike for Palmer too – the team received his payment to help them through the end of the season and money they need to pay suppliert to be able to build cars for next season. I doubt it will be easy to cancel those contracts without paying back the money.

      Renault might try and get the team into administration to then make a reboot before the entity goes into receivership. But they would need cooperation of the creditors for that to work, including the companies who provided the money tied with the driver contracts.

  20. Couple of Questions Joe, if you please!

    1. Why did JEV not get Grosjean’s seat?? Thought he would be a shoe in, the french link ensures totals sponsorship along with others and is a young competent driver! Unless they are finally getting rid of Pastor!!

    2. What are the chances of Volkswagen and Sauber also getting together. Someone mentioned to me that if VW are looking at RB, Sauber and STR as teams as they all could take on a VW brand, such as Audi, Porsche & Lamborghini.

      1. Are you sure they (Renault) actually will, with all their other problems, factories closing, strikes, government interference and the whole Nissan share balance vs voting rights issue? Mr Ghosn is not amused.

  21. I think its all time related, I don’t believe in the MS myth, but then I am a Senna fan, I don’t believe in the hamilton myth, but then I am a Senna fan, I don’t believe in the Prost myth, but then I am a Senna fan…..I don’t believe in the Mansell myth, but…he was on reflection an amazing driver, as is Hamilton, as is Schumacher as is Prost…i am still a Senna fan…time will determine the answers, history always wears its own particular filter…..was Stewart better than Cevert..perhaps, no, who knows…case closed….as Joe says, those who know, know.

  22. Joe, do you think Rio Haryanto still has a chance of a Manor drive? There’s some serious talk of sponsorship in Indonesian media from the Indonesian oil company, Pertamina, as well as the city of Jakarta.
    What’s the word in the paddock on his chances?

  23. > at least one big name driver

    Joe, besides (alphabetically) Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel, who do you see as the other big name drivers at present, if any? Thanks.

  24. PS What would be really good would be to see some of the F1 drivers pop back and do the odd GP2 or WSR race. But they might not want that. Oh for the day when you get an F1 drive for the quality of your driving.

  25. JP Jnr was a bit of a surprise but I’m delighted that he has got the race seat. I always admired his father, being a fully qualified Doctor and F1 driver. Gone are those days!

  26. Thank you, Joe.

    That is an interesting reminder that Renault sometimes don’t rebrand until a team is viable

    Empathise totally on internet failure. Three days without it at a Caribbean hotel, and I’d have flown back to Blighty and gone back to work, if I’d had the resources.

  27. Talking of drivers, how IF RD/TR don’t find an engine, Sauber/FI loose with the EU and/or Renault don’t buy Lotus that may just put the likes of Ricardio, Kyvat, Verstappen, Sainz et all potentially contracts permitting onto the driver market.. with just two Manor seats + the possibility of some 3 car teams who goes where..? If this is all a bit fanciable who then ends up with Manor as everywhere else is full….

  28. Grosjean won’t be in a Stewart-Haas Cup car at either the Glen or Sonoma. They’d have to get him a team, crew chief, car, testing and use one of the rookie part time slots allotted to allow him to run in the first place. Not going to happen.

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