Green Notebook from Crèvecoeur-le-Grand

Driving home from Zandvoort, I passed through Crèvecoeur-le-Grand, a town in the Oise departement in France, surrounded these days by dozens of aeolian wind turbines. I find these constructions rather elegant and something of great value, but I know others think they spoil the view.

In rough translation the name Crèvecoeur-le-Grand means  “The Big Heartbreak”, which is an odd name, if only because I’m not sure if there is such a thing as a small heartbreak.

If you try to trace the derivation of the name, looking perhaps for a story like Romeo and Juliet, one finds only the mists of time. The town name may have come from an ancient aristocratic family, or perhaps the family name came from the town. It is hard to tell. There are several other Crèvecoeurs in Normandy and, inevitably, the name landed on the beaches of Britain with William the Conqueror and ended up in America, where it was mangled into Croaker and Craker. And while this was going on the town of Big Heartbreak was being flattened and rebuilt twice by German guns and bombs. It was not a lucky place.

Crèvecoeur’s biggest claim to fame apart from its repeated destruction, is that it was where the exotic American dancer Josephine Baker married (from the fourth time), casting away her skirt made from bananas – it was all she wore while dancing on stage in Paris – and becoming a French citizen. Her husband, for the next 14 months, was Jean Lion, a wealthy local sugar broker and aviator. The ceremony that put Crèvecoeur on the map was performed by the mayor, who enjoyed the strange name Jammy Schmidt, a lucky name for such an unfortunate place.

Mrs Lion was splendidly eccentric and kept a perfumed pig in her nightclub in Paris. She was once photographed taking her pet swans for a walk in Budapest (on leashes, of course). As a result of this brief encounter, Josephine Baker became a French citizen and today rests in the Pantheon in Paris, alongside national heroes (and heroines) likes of Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Pierre and Marie Curie, Louis Braille, Jean Moulin and sundry military and political types.

The name Crèvecoeur is also employed to describe a rather exotic breed of chicken that was named after Crèvecœur-en-Auge in the Calvados region of Normandy. These heartbroken chickens were very popular (for dinner) with the bourgeoisie in the Nineteenth Century. The French, however, blame the invading Germans for eating nearly all of these succulent chucks, and the breed has been endangered ever since, although the do-gooders of today have been busy encouraging them to propagate so that future generations can enjoy the taste.

The point of all this local colour is that the story of Crèvecoeur (and the chickens) mirrors the story of Zandvoort, where heartbreaking events have led to a similar resurrection. Zandvoort was once a very chic seaside resort, with Belle Epoque hotels and villas, where the celebrities of the day bathed in the North Sea. Alas, when the armies arrived from Germany in 1940, the generals felt threatened by the lovely beaches and so demolished the fashionable town in order to build coastal defences.  They used the rubble as the foundations for roads to link the blockhouses.

After the war the mayor of Zandvoort, a racing fan called Henri van Alphen, saw the opportunity to use the German roads to build a race track to promote the town. Today, Zandvoort is an ugly town, with cheap and nasty post-war apartment blocks, but it has a splendid race track, to which the Dutch now flock in vast numbers (and orange clothing) to watch Max Verstappen winning motor races. There is a certain magnificence in these vast orange crowds, particularly for older Dutch racing folk who never dreamed that such things might be possible.

Perhaps with time, the city will demolish all the horrible buildings and make Zandvoort beautiful again.

The Formula 1 Paddock in Zandvoort was bustling with the orange folk, not least McLaren team people who seemed very pleased when I emerged (not surprisingly) that they had secured the services of Oscar Piastri, following a discussion by the Contract Recognition Board, which ruled that Alpine’s claims about having him under contract were fatally flawed. The details of how this came to pass remain confidential but I am told that the story was not very complex, as the contract registered by Alpine with the CRB was no more than what is called a heads of agreement, which is a non-binding agreement to agree on a contract. Why this strange situation could have occurred is because when Piastri agreed to stay with Alpine last November, the team could not offer guarantee which car he would drive in 2023 and could only commit to “a Formula 1 car”. At the time the team was still discussing what to do in the future with Fernando Alonso and already had a deal with Esteban Ocon.

Alpine was in a difficult situation because it wanted to hire both Alonso and Piastri but could no do so. It could, in theory, have signed both and paid off Ocon, but that would have been very messy given that Esteban is French and won a race in 2021 (which was more than Alonso did). In any case, Ocon has been driving some super races of late, notably in Spa where he did a better job than the celebrated Fernando. To be doing that is quite an achievement given that Alonso is on of the finest F1 drivers in history and ended up with only two World Championships because of poor career decisions, bad management and having the reputation for being someone who damages racing teams. One can add Alpine to the list after recent events… He is a fabulous driver but his talent should have landed him five World Championships rather than just two. In any case, matching him and beating him on occasion makes Ocon a very valuable driver.

Alpine must now find replacements for Alonso and Piastri and the team must be aware that when all is said and done that it was to blame for losing the pair. Such setbacks always provide good lessons for those new to F1 and so it is best for Alpine not to get into a panic and sign up the wrong people but rather to wait and watch and make sensible decisions about what to do next. There is no great rush to do deals. Piastri was the team’s future, but there are other drivers in the Alpine Academy, notably Jack Doohan, who is showing signs that he is good enough for F1. It is too early for him, and the best move would probably be to give him a year testing with older cars and becoming part of the team, rather than throwing him in at the deep end. Thus, Alpine needs a driver who is willing to do a one-year deal.

Perhaps the team would do OK with a Mick Schumacher, a Nico Hulkenberg or a Nyck de Vries, but one-year deals can be fraught arrangements because a driver with no future in a team wants only to show what he can do, rather than how he can help the team. Daniel Ricciardo looks like a man who needs to rest and get his head in gear, while Pierre Gasly would be a good choice were it not for the fact that he is French (and why would the team want two Frenchmen?). There is also the fact that he and Ocon do not get on. They are the worst kind of rivals because they were best friends when they were young, before they fell out. One should add that Pierre is also locked in a contract with Red Bull (to race for AlphaTauri) and it will cost money to get him out, as Red Bull really needs him in reserve in case something happens to one of the Red Bull drivers.

It is a bit odd that Dr Helmut Marko has got excited about Colton Herta and says that he will sell Gasly if he can get Herta. It looks from the outside like Marko is playing games to disrupt rival teams as it is a tough project to extract Herta from an IndyCar contract with Andretti Autosport in 2023, get him up to speed in F1 rapidly and try to get agreement for him to be given a Superlicence he has not earned. On can argue that the Superlicence rules should be tweaked in future to allow Indycar race winners to jump into Formula 1, but there should not be a precedent set that allows the rules to be bent. This will only lead to problems in the future. The rules exist to ensure that the quality of driving in F1 is maintained and while Herta may (or may not) have what it takes, there are others who might get in later, based on money rather than talents. A driver who earns a Superlicence (even a rich one) has still earned the right to race F1. Undermining the Superlicence system would undermine the FIA’s reputation in F1.

The argument that F1 needs an American driver is utterly flawed, unless the American is the right one. Right now, Williams is supporting the efforts of  21-year-old Florida driver Logan Sargeant, who is currently in the process of gaining a Superlicence in the prescribed way, and despite some mishaps in Formula 2 is still in a position to have one next year. Herta is clearly talented, but neither he nor Marko should be helped to get him a licence. If he has the talent needed and the will to succeed then he will find a way without help with the licence.

Driver success in F1 is based so much these days on driver psychology that it is always best to find the right fit rather than trying to ram a driver who is a square ped trying to get into a round hole.

Ricciardo is a good example of a driver who has super ability but just does not fit in the team. No-one can figure out why and the Australian’s confidence has been battered by what has happened. This does not mean that Daniel is useless and finished, it means he needs to rebuild, rethink his priorities and find a way to get back his missing mojo.

The latest word is that Daniel might take a year off in 2023 if he is not offered the Alpine drive. Then, as an experienced F1 winner, he could return to the sport as a reserve in 2024, helping to rebuild his confidence by  measuring his performance against the top names. I hear he has been talking to Mercedes about such a role, which would put him in with a chance of a race drive in the future if Lewis Hamilton decides that he has had enough. That must happen eventually and while Mercedes has George Russell in place, it is waiting for the next big thing. This appears to be a 16-year-old youngster it manages called Andrea Kimi Antonelli, who is wowing everyone at the moment in Formula 4. He is at least three or four years away from F1, so there is likely to be a gap between Hamilton’s departure and Antonelli’s arrival…

It is tough getting a break into Formula 1, even if you are talented, and I have rather enjoyed rumours in recent days that Formula 2 champion-to-be Felipe Drugovich could be joining Aston Martin in 2023 as a test and reserve driver. This is smart thinking.  Drugovich has dominated F2 this year but it is his third year in the formula and F1 teams tend not to look at such drivers. However, Drugovich is smart enough to realise that jumping straight into F1 will be almost impossible and going to Aston Martin is a decent gamble because Alonso and Lawrence Stroll may not get on, and even if they do, that will come at the expense of Lance Stroll, so one can wager that one or the other will be gone by 2024 and being integrated into the team, Drugovich would be a good bet as a replacement for one or the other… This would also be good for F1 as the sport could use another Brazilian…

On final thought on the subject of drivers, I that Marko could be stirring up a storm in the driver market because he does not want F1 scribblers focussing on Red Bull’s other big story at the moment: the fact that its planned relationship with Porsche is coming undone and Porsche will not become a shareholder in the team. It seems that Red Bull has concluded that it would rather stay as it is and run its own engine programme, rather than have other folk coming in and disrupting the successful squad that it is today. Red Bull now has its own engine programme – the first prototype ran recently on a dyno in Milton Keynes – and the firm does not really need Porsche, unless it wants money, which has never been Red Bull’s problem…

The team can do as it pleases with its engines in 2026 and is happy to be independent and not have to answer to a partner or be dependent on an engine supplier. Red Bull can accept money from someone who is willing to pay to badge the engines, but it wishes to retain control. The whisper in F1 circles is that Red Bull was unimpressed by leaks about Porsche in the media as these were seen as being designed to boost the value of the Porsche IPO that will be happening in the next few weeks.

This leaves Porsche in a complicated situation as it does not have the thing it needs to build F1 engines on its own. It does however want to use the sport to highlight its involvement in sustainable fuel development. The recent Audi announcement has similar problems because there is a lot to be done if Audi is to get a team competitive by 2026. And there is more politics to come within the VW empire (which owns both the Porsche and Audi brands).

Elsewhere in the car industry there is a very interesting development at Renault (which owns Alpine) where the boss Luca de Meo is planning to revamp the whole company by making some dramatic changes. One of these is to lump together the company’s traditional internal combustion businesses in a business based outside France and sell off much of the business. This will mean that Renault can claim to be an all-electric firm and he hopes that the electric side of the business, which is currently being labelled as Ampere, a similar independent firm, based in France, but with Renault keeping control, will attract more investors and the kind of valuation that Tesla has managed to achieve.

The traditional ICE business has been given the codename “Horse” and the word is that Renault will would keep only 40 percent with China’s Geely taking another 40 percent and the Saudi Aramco oil company taking the remaining 20 percent.

Logically, Renault’s motorsport engine design hub at Viry-Châtillon would become part of “Horse” and that would mean that the three shareholders might all be able to get hybrid F1 engines. Alpine could continue with Renault, Geely is the owner of Lotus and there is a strong argument that if one wants to expand Lotus road car sales the best way to do it would be an F1 programme, given the heritage of the  brand in the sport. And Aramco is the primary sponsor of Aston Martin Racing and wants to have an F1 engine so that it can show off its synthetic fuel programmes, and provide Aston Martin will its own brand engine…

Still, F1’s relationship with China is still less than easy and the Chinese are one of the problems that F1 has creating its 2023 calendar. Things are moving onwards with no resolution to the Miami and Montreal impasse, which means that F1 has to criss-cross the Atlantic twice in the spring. Monaco is still a problem and Baku is not happy about being asked to move from its June date. We know that South Africa has now dropped out of the running for 2023 because money did not arrive, that Doha is not moving to the front of the calendar (because they have demolished the pit buildings and these cannot be rebuilt in time for next spring). We know also that the British GP and Austria have switched dates in July with Silverstone on the second and Austria on the ninth. We also know that Zandvoort is taking Spa’s date on August 27 and that Spa is jumping back into the calendar on July 23. But what we don’t know is what happens with China because it is unclear whether the country can commit to a race because of its COVID-19 policies. At the moment the government continues to try to maintain a zero COVID policy and in recent days has shut down the cities of Shenzhen and Chengdu. It is difficult for any sport to plan around such decisions and a string of big international events have been postponed or cancelled in recent weeks. The policies may change after the National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, which happens only once every five years. This decides the country’s leadership and thus the policies for the next five years. This happens in late October, but F1 wants a calendar before then. Once China is settled on a date, the other races can slot into the available slots.

Once that is done, the F1 group can start worrying about what to do in 2024…

One race that will be up for renegotiation is Zandvoort… which will have ended its initial three-year deal.

62 thoughts on “Green Notebook from Crèvecoeur-le-Grand

  1. Hello Joe.
    So it Red Bull and Porsche deal falls off, is there even a remote chance that Porsche could take a chance and join up with Williams, for example?

      1. So now that the deal between Porsche and Red Bull is officialy off, what are the next steps for both parties? Red Bull might return to partnership with Honda, but Porsche? Will it seek new partnerships or it is possible that it will scrap their F1 plans?

  2. Respecting SL protocols is crucial, but from what I know & understand, the plan is for him to belatedly receive the 12 SL points he deserved from finishing 2nd in the 2018 IndyLights campaign but didn’t at the time, over an insufficient competitor amount that was, of course, outside his control.
    The only factor that has ever hindered his SL-gaining chances & can count as force majeure by definition, given the outside-drivers’-control nature.
    Therefore, gaining the remaining points alongside FP1 running would be okay (even if unusual) if the other seven affected drivers, i.e., other top-8 finishers, also belatedly got the points they deserved at the time.
    Alpine’s priority target driver is clear, so an all-French lineup is something they’d want & I wouldn’t put much, if any, weight on something that happened between them in non-pro racing in 2009 & entirely outside both Team Enstone & F1.
    Ocon has effectively said he’d be okay being teammates with him.
    Depending on Herta’s situation, Alpine could alternatively resort to Mick, who I see as a viable alternative, but everything’s open for now.
    Herta’s situation & how much financial compensation they’d be willing to give RB for terminating Gasly’s contract determine the eventual outcome ultimately.
    We’ll see.

    1. 2018 is too far back. Even taking the Covid changes into account, the points need to come from the last four years (normally 3) so 2019-2022. My maths says that he needs to finish third this year and with him sitting 10th with two races left, that is a mathematical impossibility even if he gets pole, win, fastest lap and most laps led and no-one above him scores any points at all.

  3. “Alonso is on of the finest F1 drivers in history …” Alonso is frequently praised with such words by the media. I have never really understood it. Hamilton, in his first season in F1, embarrassed him. How can Fernando be one of the finest?

    1. Hamilton is very very good and was well prepared. He remember is from the last generation of drivers who came to F1 before the testing restrictions. He had a season or two testing up to date cars almost every week. Non of todays new. drivers have anything like that level of preparation.

      1. Did he?
        Taken from another website so I can’t vouch for its authenticity – “Having been on the Woking team’s books since the age of 13, Hamilton had briefly driven their F1 car two years before at the British GP venue, but only for 21 laps on the shorter National Circuit as the team also tried out fellow young guns Jamie Green and Alex Lloyd”.
        Additionally, I seem to remember reading somewhere that many in the McLaren garage (including some of his own crew) were unconvinced about his readiness or ability to cope with F1 (or Alonso). Surely if he’d been testing as much as you say his talent and promise would have been more widely known with the organisation?

        1. I clearly remember Ron Dennis saying that Lewis was the best-prepared rookie in F1’s history given the amount of testing he had done. As mentioned, back then there were no restrictions on testing.

          A few years ago, Mark Hughes did one of his extensive comparisons between team-mates. Alonso came out fractionally faster than Lewis.

          1. Maybe at the time, but there are other drivers who did subsequently complete more mileage in testing before their debut.

            Hamilton is credited with having done around 9,000km in testing before he made his debut, but Alguersuari (~9,300km), Hulkenberg (~9,500km), Rosberg (~9,500km), Bourdais (~10,300km), Ocon (~10,300km), Buemi (~10,400km), Ricciardo (~13,400km), Nakajima (~15,800km), Vettel (~21,400km) and Kubica (~39,000km), to name just some drivers from around that era, covered more mileage – substantially more in the cases of Vettel and Kubica.

            We’ve also had estimates of how much mileage Alonso and Hamilton did with the MP4/22 before the start of the 2007 season, and Alonso actually got to do more testing with the MP4/22 – Alonso covered 8,277km in the MP4/22, whilst for Hamilton it was 7,714km.

            Whilst Hamilton might have done a decent amount of testing, it wasn’t actually exceptional for that era – quite a few drivers before and since have racked up more testing mileage – whilst Alonso actually had the advantage in terms of testing mileage with the MP4/22, not Hamilton.

    2. Because they both are. Someone worked out the ridiculously small number of points in the right years that would have made Alonso a five times champion. It’s a fun game, especially in the olden days of dropped scores. You can get Prost up to 8 relatively easily, in four different teams (though of course had he won all those, he wouldn’t have changed teams all those times in the first place…)

    3. Uhm have you ever watched formula one? Firstly Hamilton was no rookie when he was with Alonso in his first year; he had many miles of meticulous Ron Dennis preparation, and he is also a legend.
      Fernando race craft is arguably far superior than Lewis, its other non driving aspects that have limited the results, but watch Fernando onboard from Zandvoort as an introduction to formula one!

      1. I’m laughing at the Alonso race craft is arguably far superior to Hamilton. Don’t be daft, they’re both very, very good at this. They’re both relentless as well when chasing down other drivers. Hamilton is the better qualifier though.

        People need to stop being so rose tinted with Alonso, his best days are long behind him. He is only just beating the mediocre Ocon (who was similar to the mediocre Perez in the same team, and how far Perez is behind Max is not funny). The prime Fernando was way faster than the aged one, and would have wiped the floor with Ocon. He’s an all time great, but he’s not what he was, and sadly unless Aston Martin pull something out of the bag he’s going to be a rear midfielder at best next year. At least he gets to have a truly awful teammate next year though.

    4. To begin with Alonso have always beaten its partner , to do that in 20 seasons is quite complicated. When racing with Hamilton they tied in points, and of course it was Hamilton rookie year, but also was the “we are racing against Alonso” year, so I think is best to let that tie as a tie.
      Then Hamilton have lost against their partner several years. So if you are not even the best driver with your car, then how can you claim you are best of all drivers?

      And yeah I know currently Alonso is 7 points below Ocon but with current trends it looks like Alonso will beat Ocon at the end, and lets not forget Alonso should have at least 10 points more due strange things happening in the first part of the season (but then luck usually even out like in last race with the 6th with Sainz)

    5. Well – Ross Brawn said he’d never seen any other driver able to consistently get the max out of a car after only one lap, except Alonso.

      I thought that was a remarkable statement for him to make.

      1. A few years ago, posted an interview of the great Nigel Roebuck by Peter Windsor.

        Roebuck told a very interesting story. After Felipe Massa’s retirement and knowing that he had been team-mate with both Michael and Alonso, he asked him who was the better driver. Nigel expected some kind of political or non-answer but to his great surprise, Massa flatly said Alonso. Nigel also pointed out the way Massa answered made it very clear that he had no doubt Alonso was the better driver.

  4. Joe, are you surprised by how well Carlos Sainz has gelled at Ferrari?
    Yes Leclerc is maybe a tenth faster in quali, but which of the two is likely to take the next win for Ferrari, If Max will ever allow them such a thing?
    My money would be on Sainz (Ferrari pit crew shambles aside) not Leclerc.

  5. Joe,

    1) I’m a long-time Nissan fan – and to a greater extent an INFINITI fan (from the U.S.), which is what brought me to the sport in 2014. Obviously, my fandom gravitates to Renault (Alpine). I know some of the French faithful will not be too pleased with the Geely news; and I often wonder why the Alliance with Nissan (&Mitsu) do not yield greater international appreciation.

    Do you know if Nissan (albeit, being the junior, but the bigger and more profitable entity) will get involved by the 11th hour to protect their shared interests in Renault? Both companies are the poster children for inefficiency (in myriad ways); however, both have a wealth of ingenuity that if they finally act as one, could really catapult them in a proper place amongst the other reputable international auto firms. Which is why I can’t quite understand removing INFINITI from both technical/title sponsorships – especially for INFINITI, as they are floundering miserably in the U.S….it’s biggest market…at a time when F1 is exploding in the U.S. And IIRC, there is more collaboration with Nissan FE and Viry…why not extend this with INFINITI (Nissan) instead of going all in with Lotus (Geely) and Aramco? I am beginning to wonder if a power play by Geely will put Renault, Nissan, Lotus, Volvo, Aston Martin, and a small part of Mercedes under one roof. Geez…I HOPE NOT!!! Don’t think Nissan would go for that….AT ALL! Which would put them in near complete isolation.

    2) Me personally, I don’t think Alpine go the Gasly route (or at least, I hope they don’t). It seems too expensive, especially after this CRB ordeal (sunken cost with Piastri, and to pay for the hearing). I don’t know why hiring Gasly would be even be entertained.

    Where I depart from you slightly is, yes…there are two more races left in F2. If Jack Doohan continues his good showing, Alpine could afford to wait on their driver decision…to the end of the F1 season. In the meantime, that’s enough time to properly evaluate Jack against Oscar with SIM data…place Jack in a couple of FP sessions as well as end of season tests. If he ticks the boxes, then he’s the man for that 2nd seat. There will be no need to take on other teams’ projects…and most importantly, it shows that your Academy works (after ushering Lungaard off to Indy; releasing Zhou to Alfa; and losing Piastri to McLaren).

  6. I don’t disagree with you that the rules shouldn’t be bent to grant Colton Herta an FIA Super Licence if he doesn’t qualify for it, but do you think the FIA Super Licence points allocation for IndyCar should be revised?

    And if Herta does not join AlphaTauri for next year – I think Pierre Gasly would remain at AlphaTauri, and in that case who do you think would go to Alpine?

    And also, do you stand by your view that Nicholas Latifi will no longer remain with Williams? If yes, do you feel it be De Vries or Logan Sargeant to replace him?

      1. Agreed.

        What I’m asking though is: do you think for the future the FIA should revise its points allocation to IndyCar in terms of the Super Licence?

        Also, if Herta doesn’t go to AlphaTauri – one would assume Gasly remains there. If so, who goes to Alpine then?

        P.S. thank you as always for your insights, they are highly appreciated!

    1. I don’t think the alotment for SL points from Indycar is off base. Herta has one win, which isn’t exactly setting the world on fire. The criteria should actually state that, to recieve a superlicence you need to accumulate the required points AND have beaten the old war horses, Dixon and Power, in the title race.

  7. Re Indycar drivers. None of the present 30-or so is good enough for F1.
    Grosjean sucked in F1, sucks more in Indycar.
    Ericsson, very lucky at Indy, clearly better than Grosjean, sucked in F1.
    OWard & Herta have proven unable to work with big name engineering teams, cannot develop a car, and are too inconsistent.
    Palou, well, he has screwed himself forever (thanks for that too, Zak).
    For me, Indycar is a great show, premier club-racing, but perhaps not even equal to F2.
    I know, I know, I hear you before you write a single word…

  8. Hmm. Here is a question. What exact date did McLaren make the decision to move from Danny RIccardo? I suspect the decision was made the last quarter of last year.

      1. Thanks. So. we can go back 3-6 months from July to come up with potential timeline for McLaren to entertain getting out of the Riccardo contract. McLaren, probably went into the year thinking Riccardo leaving was a possibility.

  9. I can’t wait for RB to run a power train with Red Bull badging. When systems lack reliability, are under powered or are lacking in torque, who will they blame? I can see the miles of smiles at Renault should that come to pass!

  10. I would wager a tenner that in an equal test, Colton Herts would be quicker Latifi, yet he has a Super License and Herta doesn’t.

    Personally I think for a driver in his third season in a one make championship, Herta has not done enough to be a sought after driver. I think he is good, but no better than a number of drivers in Indy car who could do the same job. Simon Pagenoud springs to mind, as he is a character. Will Power, but too old, Josef Newgarden and Alex Rossi.

    The real problem with F1 is there are so few genuinely free seats for anyone, superlicence or not.

  11. There are rumours Eddie Jordan may be behind a plan to bring a South African Grand Prix to Cape Town where the local government and city are run by the opposition and may be prepared to bank roll, but without a national government sovereign guarantee.

  12. “On can argue that the Superlicence rules should be tweaked in future to allow Indycar race winners to jump into Formula 1, but there should not be a precedent set that allows the rules to be bent. ”
    The Superlicense rules were already bent…against IndyCar as a result of the bias of the Ecclestone era

  13. I’ve seen on some draft calendars for 2023 that the Chinese GP isn’t going to be paired with any other race on the weeks before and after this race.

    In case of China being cancelled, is there going to be a reserve circuit to avoid having a summer-like gap of 4 weeks between Australia and the next race (possibly Baku)?

    1. If Chinese GP still doesn’t reoccur, I reckon the segment between Melbourne & Montreal could be as follows:
      Imola April 23 (three weeks post-Aus GP)
      Miami May 7
      Montmelo May 21
      Monaco May 28
      Baku June 11
      i.e., all five have this season’s (Sprint for Imola) qualifying day as race day & I doubt Baku’s April return anyway.

  14. Hi Joe, great article, interesting reading. How certain are you that Austria & Silverstone have swapped 2023 dates? Most sources and leaked calendars suggest Silverstone will be July 9th, Austria July 2nd.

  15. Joe – is there any significance to the fact that Audi has announced it’s joining F1, but not announced (formally) that it has bought into Sauber? Given what happened with Andretti, is Audi not nervous that things could change and they’re left without a team?

    I would have thought the two things would be announced at the same time

  16. The logic of “two French drivers won’t be good for a French team that sells cars globally” doesn’t stand any genuine commercial scrutiny. It’s not necessarily ideal, but given Alpine can only run two race drivers, they (and every other team) are best served by recruiting drivers who can drive well rather than their (nebulous) potential marketability in random overseas markets. Meanwhile “the nationality of a team’s F1 drivers” ranks nowhere in the factors influencing customers’ decision to buy or not buy cars. Mercedes have sold at least a couple of cars in markets outside the UK in 2022, after all, despite running two British drivers in F1.

  17. Drugovich is decent but he has not dominated. He has benefitted hugely from the inconsistency and misfortune of a number of more fancied pedallers. The result of which is that at least 2 potentially ace drivers reputations, and I fear, their career chances have been trashed.
    F2 is a strange category.

    1. Please re-watch the F2 season and take note on all misfortunes the top5 drivers had. When you finish that will see the gap made by Drugovich is still over 40 points on beloved by media academy drivers, all this in a car never finished above 6th in its history…

  18. Hi Joe,
    How come you didn’t mention Vesti as a potential future Mercedes driver? He is, after all, years ahead of Antonelli in his development and is currently doing quite well as a rookie in f2.

  19. Would a Porsche Andretti tie-up work? Andretti pays, F1 has another ‘serious’ manufacturer and great marketing for Porsche car sales in the US

  20. Now talk of Gasly not being released (for whatever reason, but presumably because risk of Herta being denied the SL) and thus young Jack Doohan possibly going to Alpine (as their 4th pick, ahead of Danny Ric).
    Guess that’s why it’s called Silly Season.

    RIP Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

  21. Chris Medland is saying Michael Andretti should call Porsche about a team up. Joe, do you think there is any real chance of this partnership happening?

  22. I hope they don’t bend the rules for Herta. I’ve watched Indycar on and off for many years, but over the last two years I’ve watched most races.

    In a spec car Herta doesn’t stand out apart from occasional races. He’s up against some “never has beens” from F1, and can’t dominate them. He is not an obvious talent, let alone a super talent.

    I know we have some duffers in F1 that need to go (Latifi and Stroll the two outstanding candidates), but replacing one with Herta is not the answer. Come on F1, the best of the best for drivers please.

    Someone put Latifi out of his misery and replace him now? De Vries showed him up after only one FP3 session…

  23. Thanks Joe, for probably the first time I really disagree with you on the SL treatment of Indycar drivers. For me Indycar is hugely undervalued, more enjoyable then F1 to watch, much more dependent on driver skill and their were 5 contenders in the running at the title showdown. Sure Indycar has some unusual rules, but the standard of drivers is growing considerably and absolutely only shaded by F1. How many good drivers previously from F2 and previously in / on the bubble of F1 now compete? Throw in the likes of Power, Newgarden, Herta, O’Ward etc and I am firmly of the view that 75% of the Indycar field should qualify for a SL. Look at Ilott & Lundgaard, had a good year competing with perhaps some of the less competitive teams, but where were they against the top 5? Not even close.
    Rules are rules, but if they are wrong they need fixing.

    And by the way Will Power as well winning the title is now the greatest qualifier in Indycar history have beaten Mario Andretti’s record. I think his Pole to races ratio is close to 25% which is remarkable given the one make series and standard of drivers.

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