F-1 Notes: The Summer’s Over – Back To Work Boys!
Senior Editor and Motorsports Correspondent
The Auto Channel
World Champion and current leader Lewis Hamilton was enjoying his time off in the Caribbean, and also Monaco and the USA, where he has a home in Colorado. Others took a break in Majorca, Ibiza and even Rio where both Bottas (whose fiancé, Emilia, competed in her third Olympics (something we have in common!) representing Finland in swimming, and Felipe Massa both enjoyed the Summer Olympics. There is some talk about F1 competing at the Olympics: The IOC has recognized the FIA and the FIA President Jean Todt attended the opening ceremonies. The theory goes that drivers would compete in their national colors in a one-off, winner-takes-the-gold race, no FIA points and everyone drives the same standardized car! I’m personally a fan of the idea and would love to see it in 2020 Tokyo, although I suspect we will have to wait another 12 years (three Summer games) for it to happen and by then even Max Verstappen will be ‘getting on a bit’!
On the subject of Red Bull Ricciardo travelled to Los Angeles and drove a new Aston Martin DB11 up legendary Highway 1 all the way to the famous Pebble Beach Concours where Aston was demonstrating the new models and promoting thennew Newey-designed $4.5m “hyper car". No word as to how many they have actually sold, but Aston is claiming it’s all but sold out……
Whilst on holidays with his beautiful girlfriend Sunny, Nico Hulkenberg turned 29. He’s certainly one of the fastest in F1 and the teams know this, he's just been terribly unlucky not to win a race yet in over 100 GP starts. But I believe it will come and the Force India has certainly improved this year, snapping at the heels of Williams, who are having a poor season, for 4th in the constructors.
Luck is also a factor for the other Nico, who has managed to reverse a huge early season lead and watch Lewis take 62 points off him in the last seven races. I predicted at the start of the season that Lewis would win his 4th title and I still believe it. Ferrari certainly won’t be winning too much in 2016, and I doubt in 2017 either, as technical boss James Allison quit and hasn’t been replaced. Mo the team boss doesn’t seem to be quite in control of his Tifosi and although still fast they are simply not fast enough, with Red Bull having improved over the past 12 months and leading the “catch Merc when you can” brigade. Ferrari will no doubt face even more issues and intense pressure when Monza comes around in a couple of weeks. I hear that the atmosphere at the factory is very poor and that many, many top staff are leaving the car company and also F1 team, and Lamborghini has been busy hiring them all as Stefano Domenicali builds his own dream team.
Jenson Button will need some strong races to stay with McLaren next season and not be replaced by test driver Stoffel Vandoorne who is already being hailed by incoming new CEO Jost Capito, formerly of VW rallying.
I’m waiting for the new Ross Braun book he’s finishing off with former Williams CEO Adam Parr; I wonder how many secrets he’ll reveal!
And, finally, Bernie still hasn’t sold off F1 again for the 5th or is it 7th time? He and CVC are, I’m told, very close to a deal valuing the sport at around $12bn. A long term deal with Hockenheim will be part of it, as may be Las Vegas, which isn’t there quite yet – but in the pipeline.
Who says F1 is boring?