MONKEY'S F1 PREDICTOR
Who'll be where for the 2013 F1 season? Here's Chris Harris's guesswork, sorry, informed view on the matter.
The big one of course is, will Lewis leave McLaren for Mercedes? It's entirely possible. The dream team of Ron and his chosen one should have delivered more than it has since 2007. Perhaps now’s the time for a break and some new Twitter accounts.
And Mercedes might be looking for another driver.
Will McLaren still run Mercedes engines in 2014? No idea. They had a reasonably successful relationship in the 80s with some people called Honda – and it was based around turbochargers. McLaren Honda – that still sounds right somehow. Pure conjecture, but as of today there are three engine suppliers signed-up for the 1.6 litre 'new dawn': Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault. Of the three, I’d say Mercedes has the biggest and possibly the best R&D resources for this project.
But others are sure to join: I pray one of them is Honda. Nothing warms the cockles like the sight of a Honda engineer in virginal white paddock fashion, busily fussing and plugging things into data ports. It’s been too long.
Now for the juicy part of armchair silly season: a stream of unfounded and partially idiotic assumptions.
Schumacher leaves Mercedes. Lewis goes to Mercedes. Martin Whitmarsh asks Ron for the company cheque-book, but who does he go for? The no-brain choice is Paul Di Resta – or rather it was, because despite a very impressive first season and a half in F1, his massively quick team mate Nico Hulkenberg has just begun to shade him for raw pace. But then Paul’s KERS always seems to be on the blink.
Where’s Nico Rosberg in all this? No idea. Di Resta has been a part of the wider Mercedes-Benz Motorsport family since his DTM days, but German manufacturers tend to like German drivers, and that benefits Nico – assuming of course that Mercedes remains an engine supplier to McLaren who, incidentally, have for the first time just started paying for their lovely Mercedes 2.4 litre V8s.
What about Ricciardo? I came back from the Monaco race weekend on the same easyJet flight as him, so he must be pretty cheap. That will appeal to Ron, who doesn’t like wasting cash.
Red Bull’s jockey situation is sorted for next year, a parity that must have both sides questioning getting their houses in order so early in the season. Mark Webber’s had a dismal run of form pretty much from the minute he announced his 2013 deal, and Vettel wants a faster car.
But Sebastian is not available for any team other than Red Bull next year. Which means we’ll probably see him in a Ferrari. Or a McLaren Hyundai in 2014.
Perez to Ferrari? Looks logical, but then like the interior of a 1984 Testarossa, not everything at Maranello works according to logic. Luca thinks he doesn’t have enough experience – which seems unfair given his mature performances this year. And even though poor Felipe has somewhat improved his form in the past few races, he remains just that, generically known as ‘poor Felipe’. An F1 driver with an unfortunate prefix and diminished speed is surely less desirable than a young Mexican who looks suspiciously like Pedro Rodriguez and who appears to have similar natural sparkle? He’s even on the young Ferrari Driver Clienti Manettino Spumanti Programme, so he should be ‘in’ like Daniel Craig in a convent.
Remember Robert Kubica? He won a rally last weekend, which must prove that he still stands an outside chance of racing in F1 again. Ferrari did once have an option on him, then again, for all the vodka and significant silences, they still love Kimi – their last World Champion. Could he make a return to Ferrari and, more to the point, could he be arsed to board the flight to engage in negotiations? All we know is that F1 is miles, miles better with him in the script. Incidentally, he’s doing well at Lotus because they provide him with exactly what he wants: the biggest caps and shades in the paddock.
With car sales on the floor, Renault can barely justify staying in F1 without a French driver, and despite being a bit crashy into the first corner, Grosjean’s speed more than justifies his place in the team. So, we have to assume that in 2013 Renault Lotus Renault Renault, er, Lotus will remain unchanged. Particularly in the sense that all of us will continue to be baffled by the Lotus bit. Anyone got any Benetton stickers?
Heikki is good enough to be plonked into a fast car and be quick. In fact almost all of the irritatingly talented sods are good enough to do that – a fact that most of us would do well to remember when we point and laugh at the unfortunates lurking under blue flags.
Where were we?
Oh yes, Sauber. F1’s petri dish for the propagation of F1 talent. It’s quite possible Peter Sauber could lose both of his drivers over the coming months, which seems mighty unfair, but the Ferrari Signatori Ravioli Training Academy will feed him more young pups, and he’s a master at scouting the lower formulae: Valsecchi anyone? Mind you, Mercedes could then take young Cecotto and produce a special edition C63 in his name to blow raspberries at BMW. By my calculations, about nine of you might get that last gag.
Pastor Maldonado is apparently a very nice chap, but he looks completely terrifying to me, so I’m just going to say that he’s very fast and deserves to stay with Sir Frank Ltd. He can also give the impression of being an accident waiting to happen, but I didn’t say that. Bruno is slowly getting it together, but his team-mate has shaded him this year, and that’s tough to come back from.
That leaves us where, exactly?
With no real idea of what’s going to happen. But if any of this tommy-rot does come true, I will be buying myself a Shandy Bass and some Nobby’s Nuts by way of congratulation.
Happy Armchairing, one and all.