Hurrah it’s all back to sunny Europe and falling asleep in front of the TV on Sunday afternoon. No getting up at some ungodly hour to wonder why you bothered.
After four rounds bordering on the tedious we’re back to Barcelona and the hardly exciting dusty wasteland of the Spanish countryside. No, I’m being disingenuous, Barcelona throws up some interesting races from time to time and we’re due a good one this year.
So then, the most interesting news of the last few weeks as been the head of Ferrari’s renaissance Mr Arrivabene, telling the media that he doesn’t give two hoots about Hamilton ever driving a Ferrari! No, he thinks Bottas is the boy they want to take to the title next. Which sort of confirms that they like Vettel and don’t want to rock the boat with two number ones and are quite happy to have a monosyllabic Fin driving the car as long as he is willing to do the whole “number two” thing.
I'm not sure that Lewis is all that fussed about driving for Ferrari right now though. He’s clearly got the measure of Nico at Mercedes and with Redbull hamstrung by a rubbish Renault there’s no reason to jump ship for the next few seasons.
They all pay lip service to the “I want the best team mate there is so I can prove to myself that I’m the best” but in reality they’d all take Massa and his “Alonso is faster than you” attitude any day of the week. Coming second is fine, just as long as it’s no to the other guy in the post-race team debrief. Vettel tried it last year and didn’t like it one bit, so he went to a team that has no qualms about telling the other boy to get out of the way for the highly paid emotionally fragile talent.
So Arrivabene is just letting Vettel know he’s safe in the seat as long as he’s delivering for the Tifosi, the other teams that Kimi will be up for the highest bidder in ice creams in a year or so and that Bottas is the sort of driver, but not quite number one driver, they’re willing to pay for.
New this weekend will be the McLaren livery. How much of the car under it will be new is anyone’s guess. If you’re a particular McLaren fan who remembers the glory days of red and white Marlboro colours, or the Classic days of Bruce McLaren racing in Orange cars. Prepared to be extremely disappointed as Big Ron, never the most expressive of team bosses, has opted for a sort of stealth look to confuse the watching public as the car slips past at the back of the pack unnoticed.
|Can you spot the difference ?|
Gone is the pointless chrome to be replaced with black and new red “McLaren“flash lines have been added to the side pods. As a re-branding exercise I'm not sure what they were trying to do. The car doesn’t hark back to any classic paint jobs; it doesn't look much different to the previous 2015 livery and is now even more like Force India. Maybe that it, Ron is trying to fool his investors into thinking his cars are further up the field!
Amusing story of the week...
Maldonado has been reminded that no driver is guaranteed a seat week after week that he has paid for with a whole shed load of Venezuela's finest oil money. No, it turns out smearing the car down various concrete walls around the world is a bad thing. Also scoring a mere 2 points from 23 races is considered a bit below par. So despite bringing an estimated $27millions of PDVSA oil money, far and away the biggest single sponsor in F1 today, and pretty much clearing the debt Lotus had... it might not be quite enough for Pastor to keep his seat!
No, I don't think he has much to worry about either. All the other drivers do but not Paster, he has 27million reasons to feel pretty safe.
Anyway, to the race.
Well the return to Europe usually heralds a raft of aero and mechanical updates for all the cars. Except for Force India who is still hunting for spare change to pay their suppliers, so they're getting nothing new this weekend. But everyone else will be bringing some sort for "B spec" car.
Now whilst the media would have you believe that the new engine in the Ferrari will catapult them past the Merc and Lauda telling the media how Ferrari are right up their chuff. The reality is everyone moves forward. Unless they suddenly realise they plugged the engine in the wrong way round (and Renault might just be checking their build plans) everyone will find a tenth or two and the status quo will almost certainly be maintained.
Other than of course the rich teams moving ahead of the not so rich teams and Manor, so Merc and Ferrari ahead of Williams with Grosjean, Hulkenberg and Verstappen knocking around the back of the top ten.
I can't see much past Lewis on pole and maybe a Ferrari for fastest lap. Last will be one of the Manors, probably Merhi if he continues to "race"