One of the “joys” of trying to break good stories in Formula 1 is that you need to be tuned-in to the rumour mill. There is a lot of crap out there and finding good stuff that stacks up is a challenge. Sometimes, one can hear something and the stories can be confirmed by impeccable sources, but then things change. The reason for this is that, for whatever reason, things don’t always happen as planned. Decisions that are expected are not made and deals are not found.
The problem is that if one finds out something too early and it is still in the process of happening, one can be caught out. Still, it is a risk that is worth taking, because more often than not, a well-sourced story happens as predicted. Yes, one can always wait for official announcements – but what is the point (or the fun) in that? When it is announced, everyone has the story…
Last year when I wrote in June (in the JSBM newsletter) that George Russell was definitely going to Mercedes in 2022, I was 100 percent certain that it was going to be the case. The story turned heads, but I was sure that the decision had been made. And it turned out to be so. It was a similar story with Alex Albon signing for Williams a little later.
I was sure as well that the Qatar GP was going to come into the calendar when the idea had not been mentioned elsewhere. I was so sure that I made hotel bookings – and saved myself a pile of money as a result. This year will be a bit more expensive. It is the same with F1 calendars. We speculate and are sure we have it right – and then it changes.
When I heard that Jean Todt would be going to Ferrari again in 2022, as some kind of a high-level consultant, it was from a source I would never doubt. It corresponded to things that I had heard in Abu Dhabi, less than a month ago (although it feels like a lifetime since then).
But when Ferrari announced management changes yesterday, without mentioning Todt, it got me thinking. If they haven’t announced anything now, is the story right? I asked around but no-one knew for sure. The original story still looked OK. Eventually, I spoke to a source deep inside Ferrari, or rather the source spoke to me. It was a friendly warning. “Go easy on the JT stories,” the source said. “I don’t think it is going to happen. If you’d ask me before the Christmas break, I’d have said 100 percent, it’s happening, but things have changed. I don’t know why – and I don’t think the deal is going to happen.”
So, I am forced to admit therefore that the suggestion that this would happen appears to be wrong – although perhaps it will change again, although I am not betting on that.
The story caused much excitement, of course, and the other day a tweet of six words, saying that Ferrari was going to announce stuff on Monday, created a Twitter storm of astonishing proportions. This proves, if nothing else, that Ferrari remains a hugely popular team among the fans around the world. There were even some (weird) folk who created fake Ferrari announcements to the same effect, although I fail to understand what kicks one might get from doing that.
Oh well, on we go. We’ll see what happens next but I think Jean may have concluded that he wants to play at the UN level rather than revisiting old haunts – and old achievements. Was there talk? No question. Was a deal close? I suspect it may have been. Will it happen? No, probably not…