Hey-ho, on we go

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…

37 thoughts on “Hey-ho, on we go

  1. Joe, very well written. The best laid plans……
    Good to have you back, hope you had a good one and have avoided the plague.

  2. It’s probably for the best Jean Todt didn’t go back to Ferrari. It’s probably best not go back to where you made your reputation as times and people change.

    Perhaps this might make Ferrari think about younger talented people who have more drive and enthusiasm for the machinations of the Ferrari culture.

    Perhaps, I’m just talking out my backside here, it’s time for Binotto to move up and for someone like Brawn to go back, they owe him big time?

      1. Marcin’s profile appears deep, and a fairly long stint in FIA. Is this what AMR were looking for or was it that only he appeared available?

      2. If Otmar and Marcin swap teams, which team would you see as the winner in that?

        Is Budkowski likely to go to AMR even if Otmar doesn’t land in Enstone?

        And is Brivio also still expected to
        leave Alpine?

        Not sure why Alpine are so keen to shuffle the pack; I’d argue that their race weekend execution was the best it’s been for at least five years in 2021…

        1. I think it will be a draw. The truth was that Marcin was squeezed by circumstances and the arriavl of Otmar would make a new space that ought to have been there when the new structure was put in place a year ago.

          1. Thank you, that’s hugely insightful.

            I was a bit sceptical about them hiring Marcin, but there seems to have been positive momentum so I was surprised by the decision to shuffle the pack now

  3. Joe,

    Any predictions for the FIA investigation? Is Masi likely to stay on. Hope he gets some support if he does.
    Thanks Gavin

    1. I’m not predicting anything on this. They would be mad to get rid of Michael. More importantly, it would weaken the FIA, which why I don’t see them doing it.

    2. They can’t sack Masi because that would be an admission that he screwed up, which would undermine MV’s championship. The only thing the FIA can do is close ranks and say that all is well in public and work with the teams and drivers to sort out the problems – if the teams and drivers don’t trust Masi and the stewards, the wound will just fester and there will be endless problems.

      Abu Dhabi was a disgrace, but that was just problems that were apparent all year coming to a boil. Stewards’ decisions were inconsistent throughout the year and drivers were confused about what was acceptable and what wasn’t. Team bosses learned that they could harass Masi to try and steer decisions in their favour. This isn’t limited to one team or one decision or one race, it’s a systemic problem with how races are managed and stewarded. The FIA can’t publicly admit there’s a problem without implying that Masi handed the crown to MV, so the best we can hope for is that they will sit everyone down in private and work on making the stewarding and race management more consistent. Explaining to everyone why there is a written rule book would be a sensible starting point – when Kimi screwed up behind the safety car, the rules were applied strictly, for example, but when Masi decided that a green-flag finish was needed to end the year, it turns out that the race director can override the rule book as he sees fit. Not the way a multi-billion dollar sport should be run.

      1. Am I the only one who thinks that Abu Dhabi was both wrong and then absolutely the right thing to do? If I was standing in front of Michael Masi, I would congratulate him on a very gutsy move. It seems only a masochist would take that job. And as a spectator at home, I believe the audio banter back and forth with race control needs to be tailored and the lobbying needs to stop.

          1. What about adding a rule that if there is a safety car within x laps of the end (say 5) then x laps will be added to the lap count so a race doesnt finish behind a safety car. I think something like that would have fixed the issue in abu dhabi.

              1. Presumably, there would have to be some alteration to the fuel regs to allow for the additional amount required to (potentially) run the extra laps.

              2. Throw a brief red flag maybe, although in saying that, the red flags regs also probably need some looking into.
                Belated Happy New Year Joe. The rock I just crawled out of was very comfortable.

                1. It was not a red flag incident. The race director is there to look after people first and foremost. A red also would have been criticism for manipulating a grandstand finish. This is a case where whatever happened would be wrong for someone.

                  1. Agree completely. No solution would have satisfied anyone equally, but there may have been better options than what was offered up on the day. Alas, this the difference between making decisions in the heat of the moment and having five weeks to mull things over.
                    I will add though that my impression of Masi is a Race Director who does not necessarily get the support that is required to fulfil the role in the best way possible. And for those who wish to see Masi dismissed may find getting an adequate replacement a trifle difficult.

            1. Except then there is the issue of fuel. We might see a bunch of cars stop on track as the teams fuel as light as possible.

            2. They add laps to the scheduled race distance in the BTCC if the safety car comes out to play, even if it’s at the end of the first lap. And as Joe notes, there’s the green-white-checker (sic) thing in NASCAR. The former would be a bit OTT for F1, I think, but the latter is surely worthy of the FIA’s consideration.

  4. No worries, Joe. You’ve always been one to say when you’re purely speculating, and when you predict things based on a source(s). Readers have to know that the journalist taking the “risk” of getting these scoops has some degree of certainty, but always reserves the right to be incorrect. Hope your 2022 is going well so far!

  5. Thanks Joe – you can only be perfect if you never stick your neck out. Most of us appreciate that about you.

  6. It shows the value of sources, judgement and insight rather than who is quickest on the clickbait copy/paste.

    As for the fake profiles and fake stories, aside from the obvious spoof ones, some folk just have too much time on their hands, or not enough to do.

  7. First, respect for being transparent about what’s going on. Second…. Thank God. Not only do I find JT to be unsporting and unlikable, but the idea of continuing to look back at 20 years ago makes me tired and sick. Bernie made a comment about Briatore should come back and that was the same…. Enough with the dinosaurs, let’s enjoy the new stuff.

    Although I thought it was childish at times, there’s no doubt that Christian and Toto are now in the pantheon of team principals. I like Seidl and Capito, jury is still out on Binotto… I can’t wait to see what they’ll do, but please don’t bring back any old guard

    1. JT has been successful at pretty much all of his motor sport endeavours over very many years and in my opinion he has been as even handed as anyone can be. Old age, in itself, should not be an impediment to future activities and has the virtue of hard won experience, in his case covering a huge relevant and related range.

  8. As ever, your smarter readers understand that things can change and appreciate the insights you share. Thank you.

      1. Happily it does seem, at this moment, that the bug is relenting though, no doubt, there will be a few more skirmishes.
        Don’t let anyone tell you it’s nothing. Science has enabled it to be much less serious than at first but it’s still very unpleasant, very contagious and overall very costly.
        Being an old f*** I’m pleased to have escaped thus far but having been multiply jabbed I am under the influence of little green men and microthingies whizzing round my system.

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