I hope you are all familiar with the term silly season in F1 circles? It’s a period of time that starts towards the mid-season break when drivers whose contractual obligations are at their nadir look towards jumping ship to other teams. During last year’s silly season, the biggest talking point was about Lewis Hamilton’s shift to Mercedes (which eventually happened) and Michael Schumacher’s shift to Sauber(which didn’t) or potential retirement ( * sigh * ). The 2012 season is done and dusted and pre-season testing hasn’t commenced, but there’s a whole lot that has already happened this week that warrants attention.
Toto Wolff – A hand in both Mercedes and Williams
Toto Wolff, who till now, was an executive director and shareholder in the Williams F1 team is now headed towards a new bigger role at Mercedes. He now takes over the management at Mercedes and it is expected of him to lift the German team’s poor run in 2012. He fills the void left by Norbert Haug who resigned last year taking responsibility for Mercedes’ failure to go forward in both championships in 2012. With Niki Lauda also joining the Brackley-based outfit, alongside Ross Brawn and Nick Fry, there seem to be an awful lot of heads over there. Ross Brawn will not take lightly to being ordered around and I wouldn’t be too surprised to see a power struggle at Mercedes this year.
Marussia – Auf wiedersehen Timo!
Timo Glock and Marussia have parted ways by way of mutual consent.
Glock had a contract till 2014 and this is widely seen as a move by Marussia to secure someone who brings money to the table. This is part of a sad trend among smaller F1 teams where drivers who have fatter pockets are given preferential treatment over those with proper racing talent. To put that into perspective, Kamui Kobayashi – easily one of the most exciting drivers on track – was let go by Sauber and replaced with Esteban Guiterrez primarily because of the Mexican’s funding. The same goes for Williams retaining Pastor Maldonado; one might argue the merits of Pastor’s victory in Spain, but the slew of indiscriminate crashes that came after, leaves this writer less convinced of Pastor’s temperament. Marussia had already given one of it’s seats to Briton Max Chilton who brings a lot of cash to the team. And now, it seems Timo had to be let go as he was being paid and not the other way around! With Marussia being Russian and Vitaly Petrov (and his roubles) needing a drive, it’s logical to assume that this pairing might be in the offing.
Force India – Who is the second driver?
Force India on the other hand, seem to be in no hurry to announce the driver who’s going to partner Scot Paul Di Resta this year. There were a number of candidates for the seat: Vitaly Petrov, Bruno Senna, Kamui Kobayashi.. and Adrian Sutil. Sutil, who went from being a cool headed F1 driver to a man with a rap sheet in China in 2011, was let go by Force India that very year. But now, Sutil seems keen on making his F1 return and will it be with Force India? The team is adamant that they will announce their line up only after pre-season testing starts in February. So which driver is it going to be? A month tops and we’ll know
The 2013 season starts in a month’s time. But the show has already begun. Is Mercedes going to come out of it’s cocoon? Who will fill the empty spots at Force India and Marussia? These are questions that need answering and we might not have to wait too long.