So, the New Year is passed and it is time to get back to work. The festive season brought little real news, although it is now fairly clear after Valtteri Bottas had a seat fitting at Mercedes in Brackley and so he will soon be named as Nico Rosberg’s replacement. Felipe Massa continued to train through the holidays and we expect him to return to Williams to fill in for Bottas, while it is now likely that Pascal Wehrlein will be at Sauber, as Rosberg’s departure means Mercedes has more cash available to pay for its protégé. Rio Haryanto’s bid has collapsed as Pertamina has decided not to support him further.
On the engineering front, it was announced that Pat Symonds is retiring from Williams and it is expected that there will be several new hires at Williams, with Paddy Lowe tipped to arrive in a management role at some point shortly and stories that James Key will also turn up at Grove in the fullness of time. One can expect James Allison to be announced at Mercedes in the summer. The New Years Honours largely ignored motorsport with Susie Wolff the only recipient. Her MBE means she has the same recognition as Lewis Hamilton, while the last motorsport recipient Claire Williams is a grade higher than both of them with her OBE, on a par with most British F1 World Champions in the past.
Ferrari announced various new young drivers. This is generally a scheme for those who pay to buy some insight into how F1 works and some credibility, but it seems that the nomination of Antonio Giovinazzi is a rather more serious appointment, although we will have to see if it leads to a racing seat in F1. The other newcomers are Enzo Fittipaldi (a grandson of Emerson) and New Zealander Marcus Armstrong. They join Charles Leclerc, Antonio Fuoco, Giuliano Alesi and Guan Yu Zhou in the Ferrari Driver Academy.
Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne once again talked about Alfa Romeo entering F1, but gave no details.
Liberty Media announced that it has all the required governmental clearances to go ahead with its F1 purchase, which shut up all the folk trying to play up future problems. There was talk of Liberty insisting on a spending cap for F1, which is a thoroughly sensible idea.
Elsewhere, the sale of Manor went very quiet but there were suggestions that the new favourite to buy the team is former Manor CEO Graeme Lowdon, at the head of a group including Ron Dennis. There is little to indicate that this is true, but the sourcing is sensible.
Finally, although it has not yet been reported, Derek Warwick is standing down as President of the BRDC and the club is looking for a replacement. One name being mentioned is Martin Brundle. The club members have also been informed by chairman John Grant that the future of the British Grand Prix is bleak, unless the Formula One group freezes (or better still lowers) its fee demands for European races. The word is that Liberty Media has understood the problem and knows that the traditional European races are important and so will act accordingly.
No doubt things will start happening this week…