At present, I would hate to be Nico Rosberg! Yes, he may be leading the Drivers’ Championship, but I wonder how many people actually want him to win this years’ title – besides himself of course, his family and friends, ‘his’ team in Mercedes, and (possibly) me. The whole world, or a large portion of it (yes, Formula 1 fans are my definition of the ‘whole world’) are rooting for his former world champion teammate, Lewis Hamilton, to win this season – and not just the Drivers’ Championship, but every pole position, race win, and fastest lap.
After nine years of roughing it out in non-competitive cars, Rosberg has made the most of his talent and luck to lead the Drivers’ Championship this season. And contrary to what most (Hamilton) fans believe, I do mean ‘talent and luck’ in that order. What’s worse is the public perception that his team management (Wolff and Lauda in particular) are in favour of Hamilton clinching the crown – that’s my reading, at least, of the reactions to the incidents in Hungary, Spa, and Monza.
Whether or not the 2014 championship ends up in favour of Rosberg remains to be seen, but what he’s managed to do already is definitively raise his own equity in the paddock. He’s beaten Hamilton on-track (cheekily or not) and rattled him off it. And this is Lewis Hamilton that we’re talking about – possibly the most sought after driver on the grid after Fernando Alonso. But even Hamilton has surprised me more than ever before with his errors on-track and emotional outbursts off it. Damn, there is something about these German drivers – isn’t there?
The one person who I’d love to be, or fill the shoes of actually, is Luca di Montezemolo – the outgoing President of Ferrari. After years of leading Ferrari from the front and delivering profits for the road car division, it’s the lack of wins in Formula 1 that was the cause of Montezemolo – possibly the most popular man in the sport’s management after Ecclestone – being asked to step down by the CEO of Fiat, Sergio Marchionne. Ostensibly, it was the team’s poor results in Formula 1, rather than its performance in the boardroom that led to Montezemolo’s exit. As unfortunate as that may be in this instance, I’m actually glad that Ferrari still cares more about its sport than its bottom line.
Montezemolo can be credited for one of Ferrari’s most wonderful eras as a constructor in Formula 1, but he could also be blamed for the prolonged slump that the team finds itself in. Well, the Fiat management certainly seems to think so.
I am excited to see who would be chosen to replace Montezemolo in the near future. Given the team’s image and historic association, and the endless possibilities resulting from having two World Champions at the wheel, I for one wouldn’t mind applying for the position. And I find it a little funny that this year’s silly season in Formula 1 includes finding a new President for Ferrari.
In my view, 2015 could see one of the most shaken up grids in the last decade. If the rumours are to be believed, Alonso, Vettel and Button – all former World Champions – could switch teams next season. And while the Mercedes duo do seem likely to continue as teammates (if not friends), could the recent spike in tension cause one of them to jump ship – Hamilton perhaps?
Initial speculation seems to indicate that McLaren-Honda could be the team to beat in 2015. However, drivers ought to be wary about the fact that it could well take Honda a full season to catch up with the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari – which would mean that the 2015 season could be a test season for anyone who decides to race with them. Alonso certainly wouldn’t want yet another season of waiting, especially if it means waiting with Ron Dennis! And in case of Vettel, I don’t think just one off season with Red Bull Racing wouldn’t be enough to make him look elsewhere – although being beaten fair-and-square by Ricciardo could. Does this mean that Button could get lucky if he stays put?
While the World Champion drivers will find spots one way or the other, I do feel for the drivers in the mid-field teams (Oh, Hulkenberg), who are either waiting in the wings for one of the top teams to sign them up or fending off younger drivers with personal sponsors who are trying to ‘buy’ their way into the sport. But this isn’t new for the sport, or the drivers for that matter, and I guess it is about survival of the ‘fattest’ – wallet that is.
And last, but not least, I have mixed feelings about Max Verstappen’s debut planned for 2015. While age is only a number, I wonder what would happen if Max doesn’t make the most of his opportunity within the Red Bull camp over the next two years. Will he go the Jaime Alguersuari way? Well, I don’t think there’s a back-up option for the prodigious son of ‘Jos the Boss,’ so he better ‘max-imise’ it!