We are in the second half of the season and in two weeks the motors will once again be turned on after a summer break that is only outwardly silent. Ferrari will go to Spa-Francorchamps in a strong position after the first and second places won in Budapest. It was an important testing bench for Maranello which it passed brilliantly and with full marks since it happened on a track that was favourable for it.
Now we await nine grands prix which, always on paper, four favour Mercedes and four Ferrari with Malaysia being the unknown quantity. It will surely be important for the men in red to arrive at the last appointment in Abu Dhabi with a good lead over the rivals. It will begin with two weekends labelled Belgium and Monza which will be pro Mercedes. Vettel will try to defend his place at the top of the ladder (14 points ahead of Hamilton) and with Mercedes that leads the constructors’ ladder with a 39 point advantage over the pair of drivers with the prancing horse.
Traditionally these two legs are important stages in the drivers’ market and this year will not be an exception with Vettel’s place being the true focal point. Ferrari apparently has placed nn the German’s desk a multiyear contract worth 120 million dollars in order to ensure its favourite who, on the other hand, could be persuaded for an extension of only a year.
Possible pair Vettel-Hamilton
The results of the next races will decide Vettel’s future in Ferrari and Singapore could represent the watershed for the drivers’ market. If the world championship should not go well the contract renewal would be difficult. In House Mercedes Valtteri Bottas’ renewal has slipped to mid September despite the fact the Finn is in the fight for the title. Vettel’s arrival at Brackley together with Hamilton would not be so improbable considering that Toto Wolff’s men have shown that they know how to handle two world champions who won together three world titles. Despite his four titles with Red Bull the German is still “hungry” and if 2017 should go badly the renewal would be difficult. Only the contract sum would not be enough.
Robert Kubica is chomping at the bit
The tests in Hungary gave us various positive points and signals. One of these was certainly the return of Robert Kubica in an official appointment, six years after his terrible crash in rallying. The Polish driver put together 142 laps at the wheel of the Renault making the fourth fastest time of the day and causing a fair bit of disarray in the French team.
Luca Ghiotto and Antonio Giovinazzi. Laudable work.
In the days after the grand prix in Hungary even Italy’s colours smiled. Luca Ghiotto at the wheel of the Williams at Budapest and Antonio Giovinazzi at the wheel of the Ferrari in the Pirelli tests figured well accomplishing their tasks with full marks and completing the day’s full programme. For Ghiotto it was his debut at the wheel of an F1 car and he managed to put together the distance of nearly three grands prix. They deserve a moment of peace.
Stroll is ready to buy Force India
There are rumours that Lawrence Stroll (father of Lance) is interested in Force India which over the last two years has shown that it is the fourth force in the world championship despite its financial difficulties. This could further upset the market, tied with the eventual retirement of Felipe Massa. If this is the case Stroll junior would leave Williams, taking the place of Sergio Perez or Esteban Ocon (a Mercedes driver as is Pascal Wehrlein currently driving for Sauber).
Keep an eye on the young Frenchman Charles Leclerc who in Budapest set the fastest time at the end of the first day of tests at the wheel of the SF70H, attracting the attention of a number of team owners. Even Sauber, ready to become a Junior Team Ferrari, expressed words of praise. In short, there is much meat on the fire.