Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

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Talk on Corners
Christopher Wheelahan

Chris first caught the F1 flu back in 2003 but lost track due to the snooze-fest that was the 2004 season. In 2010 Chris rediscovered the sport and has become enthralled since. He makes no claims to be a superb writer or journalist but only an obsessive follower of motorsport, particularly F1. Nowadays Chris spends his spare time experimenting with cocktails and wasting time with Musical Theatre types. He does not enjoy long walks on the beach… sorry.

Horner stops the music // The top seats are all but decided now that Webber's signed on the dotted line

Published

Remember that time two weeks ago when I didn’t write about Mark Webber signing on for another year at Red Bull… or anything for that matter? I was measuring my response; weighing all the options and ramifications, possibly even researching past precedence. It had nothing at all to do with laziness. Nothing, I say!

Mark taking it easy in Budapest
Mark taking it easy in BudapestCredit: Aron Suveg

I’m not one to toot my own horn or anything, so I won’t. Let’s just say that it was a move that made perfect sense for Red Bull. Webber has been an absurdly consistent driver and it makes little sense to pitch someone who is currently running second in the championship.

2012 Race Results - Red Bull
RaceWebberVettel
Australia42
Malaysia411
China45
Bahrain41
Spain116
Monaco14
Canada74
Europe4DNF
Britain13
Germany85
Hungary84

Further, he and Seb have certain chemistry. It’s not necessarily all sunshine and unicorns, but Webber and Vettel have worked together for a number of years now and they’ve fallen into a routine. Vettel is the young stud. Webber is the spry veteran. They’re both okay with that arrangement, it seems. So what happens around the rest of the field?

Ferrari

I can’t believe I’m going to say this. My money is on Massa sticking around unless he starts derping around the circuit again, like he did for the better part of the season so far. Current speculation is still around Sergio Pérez and Paul di Resta taking his seat but Domenicali needs to carefully consider who of the three will score the most points in 2013. Frankly, my money is on Massa but if Ferrari is willing to invest in a young driver, Pérez is a natural fit. Unfortunately for him, Ferrari probably isn’t especially inclined to invest in a young driver at this point.

Pérez is a good driver but to drive a Ferrari you need more experience. I think he is one of the potential best young drivers for the future but before putting a young driver in a Ferrari I need more experience and more results.

- Luca di Montezemolo

Fernando Alonso has at least another 5-8 years of driving in him, and he wants another championship or three. He needs a solid back-up for that, not a youngster.

McLaren

Lewis Hamilton is up for rebid. He’s either going to stay at McLaren or leave F1 altogether. I can’t see how any other situation could possibly work out. He won’t go to Ferrari because he and Fernando don’t really get along. No more seats at Red Bull, probably no more seats at Lotus-Renault-Equipe-Enstone-Team-Räikkönen, and Mercedes is simply not competitive enough to interest the still-young Brit. He’ll stick around if the price is right.

In a lot of other teams, the drivers get their original trophies. As a racing driver, what you work for and what you want to take home are two things; one is your crash helmet and the other is your trophy. For me, they are priceless.

...Those two things are what you put your blood and sweat into, and the team keep those at the moment. So whatever contract I'm having next, that is going to be a push point.

- Lewis Hamilton

Lotus

Current rumor-mills have Räikkönen staying on for another year at Lotus-Renault-Boullier-Total-Grosjean-Shampoo.

Kimi pulls a fast one in Hungary
Kimi pulls a fast one in HungaryCredit: Andrew Ferraro/LAT

It’s genuinely the only move that makes sense for him at this point. It’s a competitive team and the ice cream man seems happy there, and happy in F1.

Mercedes

Somebody stick a fork in Michael Schumacher. Give Paulie D (not Pauly D) a shot in a slightly more competitive car. Di Resta is moving up through the Merc driver program, so he is the logical next choice after the rainmeister retires. Unfortunately, Schumi is there to sell silver cars, and sell silver cars he does (citation: Joe Saward).

We are focused on Michael for as long as it takes - and for whatever it takes. Then we will see where we are elsewhere.

It will be a mutual decision, I think when the time is appropriate we will sit down and we will go through all the considerations and come to a conclusion. I think knowing Michael as I do, it will be a logical and sensible conclusion, driven by passion of course because he enjoys what he does.

- Ross Brawn

So really, we can see that the whole driver swap around the front of the field hinged on the fate of Mark Webber. Since that future is decided, the rest of the front is more or less written in stone… or at least erasable ink. The only question marks that remain are on Massa and Schumacher, I believe and I don’t genuinely expect them to move on anyway. The mid-field should be interesting, however. More on that next time.