Felipe Massa, Williams, Red Bull Ring, 2017

The 2018 F1 driver market: Massa key to midfield moves

2018 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Felipe Massa’s retirement and then un-retirement last season required some delicate handling by the Williams team.

He had a poor 2016 and the timing of his retirement seemed right for the 14-year F1 veteran. Then Mercedes swooped for Valtteri Bottas.

With Williams already planning to reap the dividend of putting Lance Stroll in their second car an experienced replacement was required at short notice. Massa was the obvious choice (although they did approach Jenson Button).

Now he’s served that purpose, do Williams need to persist with Massa for another season? It may be the time to swoop for a driver who could get them closer to the sharp end, and that could have consequences for the rest of the midfield driver market.

Williams

Lance Stroll, Williams, Silverstone, 2017
Expect Stroll to stick around
Is the Williams FW40 quicker than it looks? Last year Massa had the worst qualifying record of any driver against his team mate, but this year he’s trouncing Stroll. Either Massa has suddenly discovered new reserves of performance within himself during the off-season or Williams are regularly qualifying beneath the car’s potential.

The team has scored 41 points so far which means that instead of battling with fellow Mercedes customers Force India, who are 60 ahead, they’re looking over their shoulder at Toro Rosso (39), Haas (29) and Renault (26). It’s a strong case for shaking up the driver pairing.

Williams is an independent team with a big engine bill to pay. That means the well-heeled Stroll, who grabbed a fortunate but no less deserved podium in Azerbaijan, is not going anywhere.

However Massa looked long in the tooth 12 months ago. The team needs a long-term replacement for Bottas, one who has experience and pace. If Mercedes want to give their junior driver Pascal Wehrlein a shot with a team capable of scoring regular points, Williams would be an ideal choice for them.

Paul di Resta’s recent run in the car may also make him a candidate. Williams could go after Carlos Sainz Jnr but it’s hard to see sufficient incentives on both sides: He may view it too much like a sideways move and Williams are likely to baulk at Red Bull’s price tag.

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Toro Rosso

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Toro Rosso, Hungaroring, 2017
Sainz has hit the ceiling for now at Toro Rosso
Sainz is in a somewhat frustrating situation at Toro Rosso. He’s demonstrated great speed and racecraft but a route up to the top team remains closed as long as Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are at the team.

Last month the team’s upper management took him to task in public for daring to say it was “unlikely” he will remain at Toro Rosso next year. Strictly speaking he was right: no one has previously spent four consecutive seasons at Red Bull’s “kindergarten”.

But nor have many previous Red Bull junior drivers continued in F1 without the team’s backing. The exceptions are Sebastian Vettel, who moved to Ferrari of his own choosing, and Vitantonio Liuzzi, who returned with the struggling HRT squad.

For Sainz, waiting it out at Red Bull has obvious downsides. He would only get a chance to move up to Red Bull if Max Verstappen or Daniel Ricciardo leave. That is only likely to happen if Red Bull fail to become championship contenders soon. And there’s no guarantee another new superstar wouldn’t come along and leapfrog him like Verstappen did.

For Sainz a move probably only makes sense if he gets interest from a manufacturer such as Renault. But they may have a different Spanish driver in mind – one who’s already won two world championships with them.

Since he returned to Toro Rosso last year Daniil Kvyat has only scored eight points to Sainz’s 77. His qualifying pace has compared favourably to Sainz so far, yet Red Bull are showing a lot of faith in a driver they kicked out of the top team early last year.

If Sainz does leave, Toro Rosso would certainly prefer to keep Kvyat to preserve some continuity. But if Sainz stays that would surely be Toro Rosso’s cue to bring last year’s GP2 champion Pierre Gasly back from Super Formula for a crack at F1.

Haas

Last month Gene Haas told the official Formula One website his team will keep Romain Grosjean for a third season and retain Kevin Magnussen too. That will give them complete continuity in their driver line-up as they begin their third year in F1.

The Ferrari customer team had previously been considered a possible destination for Ferrari junior drivers. However the Italian squad now has another possible avenue for its young charges.

Sauber

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Hungaroring, 2017
Will Ferrari do justice to Leclerc’s potential?
Sauber’s U-turn on its decision to use Honda engines in 2018 has reopened the door for Ferrari to use the team to bring its young talent on.

Ferrari has always been more conservative than the likes of Red Bull and McLaren when it comes to this. It placed Sergio Perez at Sauber in 2012 but lost him to McLaren. Jules Bianchi, another Ferrari junior, was fortunate to get a drive with Marussia when he did – the seat was originally destined for Luiz Razia. Only two years later did Ferrari prepare his move to Sauber, at which point fate tragically intervened.

Like Bianchi, Ferrari’s latest young talent Charles Leclerc is managed by Nicolas Todt. Leclerc’s form in Formula Two this year has been exceptional for a rookie driver in a single-specification series where his rivals have up to four years’ experience with the current (previously GP2) hardware.

He’s been quickest in all seven qualifying sessions so far, usually by huge margins, but missed out on a new pole positions record in Hungary after his car failed a technical inspection. Had it not been for that misfortune in Hungary and another in Monaco his points lead would be far greater than the 50 it currently stands at.

It would be a surprise if he doesn’t wrap the title up before the season finale in Abu Dhabi – he might even do it at Monza at the beginning of next month. The timing of this could play an important role in his chance of landing one of the remaining F1 seats for 2018.

If Leclerc, the reigning GP3 champion, can win the F2 title at his first attempt and then not gain a promotion to F1, it would call into question how serious Ferrari are about their young driver programme. Particularly when in Sauber they have an obvious route for him.

Antonio Giovinazzi, Ferrari , Bahrain International Circuit, 2017
No way in for Giovinazzi?
However Leclerc’s rise to prominence is not good news for Antonio Giovinazzi, another Ferrari junior who made his F1 debut for Sauber earlier this year. It would be a surprise to see Ferrari put both their drivers at Sauber, especially as it would mean ejecting Marcus Ericsson, who has ties to the team’s owners.

Those crashes in China (with Sauber) and Hungary (in practice for Haas) were ill-timed for Giovinazzi. But his simulator work for Ferrari during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend paid off hugely. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him continue in a testing role for the team. By keeping him out of a race seat, Ferrari could also continue running Giovinazzi on the ‘young driver’ days.

But after last year’s experience, many midfield drivers may want to delay their decisions for 2018 until they’re sure no one in the top teams is going to ‘do a Rosberg’.

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  • 61 comments on “The 2018 F1 driver market: Massa key to midfield moves”

    1. I’m willing to put money on Leclerc and Gasly driving somewhere in F1 next year.
      I hope Giovinazzi too but that seems less likely?

      1. Current era of young drivers is poor. Sure Leclerc is doing well.. but against very poor competition.
        Vandoorne is similar level driver and look where he is, constantly being beaten by older generation driver.
        Massa is a better choise for next year than leclerc/gasly/giovinazzi.
        And Kubica will get a Renault seat ahead of any of these young wannabes, i put my money on that.

        1. kpcart, I note that you are ignoring the higher retirement rate for Verstappen when you are comparing his results this season against Ricciardo, so it is not an entirely representative comparison (from your attitude, I get the impression it was an intentional omission).

          1. Verstappen does look a just little like Vandoorne…

            1. Wee Jock Poo-Pong McPlop
              16th August 2017, 1:37

              I thought he looked more like Paul di Resta. Both seem to have their mouths on upside-down.

        2. Current F2 grid is quite poor indeed. Leclerc looks like an ogre in a kindergarten. Apart from rookies that I don’t know much yet, imo:

          Average:
          Rowland, Markelov, Ghiotto, Nato, Sirotkin

          Very lame:
          Latifi, Matsushita, King, Malja, Canamassas, Cecotto, Gelael, Delétraz, Visoiu, Jeffri, Coletti, Marciello

      2. Gasly won’t be anywhere but Toro Rosso and to be honest, they seem hesitant for some reason. Toro Rosso rid themselves of Buemi and Alguersuari who on the face of it were performing better than Kvyat is at the moment… yet they won’t do the same for Gasly.

        Personally, I think Kvyat is perfectly decent but has lost all motivation. I’d like to see him somewhere else, like Williams, and for Gasly to come in to the Toro Rosso.

        Leclerc seems nailed on for a Sauber in my opinion. I’m sure he’d probably prefer a Haas at this point, but Grosjean and Magnussen seem reasonably safe. As for Giovinazzi, I think it comes down to how much money Ericsson can give to Sauber.

        1. The only logical reason for keeping Kvyat in the team is marketing Red Bull drinks in Russia. But I don’t think Formula 1 has enough exposure in Russia for that to work, let alone Kvyat’s exposure. Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, Verstappen, etc. – a lot of drivers are known outside of the Formula 1 fans circle and are really marketable. But Kvyat? Nope.

    2. Sundar Srinivas Harish
      15th August 2017, 13:57

      With Williams’ recent form (especially in mid-season development), I’ll bet a million bucks that they’re about as coveted as McLaren right now.

      1. A Mercedes engine, Paddy Lowe, a (granted, distant) history of winning and a secure financial future thanks to the Stroll’s… the other seat at Williams would be high on my list if I was someone like Kvyat or Wehrlein and looking like being out without a drive come 2018.

    3. Have Williams created a potential PR problem for themselves by ushering Massa into retirement (at the right time IMHO), then bringing him back? Massa has said he’s happy to carry on for 2018, but what if Williams need someone else? Handling drivers’ enforced departures is hardly Williams’ strong point (Mansell, Prost, Hill, & Zanardi). Di Resta (and Liuzzi before him) had their chances at Force India. Selecting a driver that is quick, but not quick enough to humiliate money bags Stroll is a horrific task! The same may apply to Sauber with Ericsson, whom although a Japanese F3 champ (like Matsushita) has had plenty of time to demonstrate he’s not top drawer.

      What if Matsushita arrives at Toro Rosso with a Honda engine deal? Did Frederic Vasseur bail out on Honda because he knew from ART in F2 that Matsushita wasn’t up to much? Common sense says Kvyat tootles of to Formula E (if lucky). Paul Tracey’s comment about Marco only getting a drive with Uber (if his dad cut him loose) springs to mind with Kvyat too.

    4. I’m thinking this could be a likely scenario….

      Massa out, Wehrlein in at Williams (with Stroll)
      Leclerc to Sauber (with Ericsson)
      Kvyat out, Gasly in at Toro Rosso (with Sainz)

      Massa needs to go, I don’t think he is getting the most out of that car. And while I don’t rate Stroll, the fact that he is getting close to Massa’s pace after only half a season shows how past it Massa is. Wehrlein is the only real Merc “junior” likely to be on the grid next year in my opinion. Williams will be the only other Mercedes customer team (after Force India who will likely keep Perez and Ocon) and as such the only place Mercedes can potentially place him.

      Alonso / Kubica to Renault is the biggest question mark for me. That Renault seat is looking more tasty as each race passes. So really it could be how good will Honda be at convincing Alonso / McLaren they will have a great 2018… If not and McLaren go Renault for engines, who would be the better team out of the two?

      1. Wehrlein and Stroll can’t happen unless Martini pull their sponsorship, as with the Martinin sponsorship, they have to have a driver over 25.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          15th August 2017, 17:25

          Yes, many people don’t seem to know about this.
          I also don’t think Wehrlein is better than Massa at all. Ericsson looks pretty much as good as Wehrlein overall so far this season and I don’t think he is at Massa’s level. Massa’s season has been under rated in my opinion. He has very likely missed out on getting on for 40 points due to bad luck and reliability. I am certain he would just about be ahead of both Force India drivers if it wasn’t for this. Massa looked bad last year and I certainly think he was. But this year, he is much improved and because of his experience, I think Williams should keep him for another year. It does surprise me the amount of people that don’t seem to know about Williams needing a driver over 25 with the team because of the sponsors.
          This line here was said on load of different sites:
          “They needed a driver over 25 years of age to replace Bottas because their title sponsor, the drinks giant Martini, cannot use two drivers under that age for its global promotional campaign.”
          http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/38571408

          One reason why they wanted Massa and not someone else. But as he has looked very reasonable this year, I think they will quite likely keep him, especially as he said he’s happy to race another year. I don’t like the big deal people made about him retiring and then coming back. He never did retire. He had 2 seasons right next to each other. He just unexpectedly continued. I don’t think he wanted to end his career at all at that moment in time. But he understood it was trying out a new driver because of the money and other reasons. But it turned out Bottas left to Mercedes so it made sense for Massa to remain. I don’t think Stroll is close to Massa’s pace yet. Massa looked much quicker in Baku and almost every other race when he didn’t have reliability issues. The race when they finished 9th and 10th, Massa was over 20 seconds ahead. I think Massa is strong and experienced enough to deserve another season. His knowledge and good feedback may be essential for helping the team if it turns out to be even worse next year.

        2. @hugh11 @thegianthogweed

          The 25-year-old Martini thing is interesting. I didn’t think legal drinking age would be more than 21 anywhere on the world. This is almost true – either alcohol is prohibited, or legal drinking age is 21 or less – with the exception of 7 states in India accounting for a population of around 180 million people (mostly in Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi).

          So I guess these Indian states are the reason why Wehrlein will not be able to move to Williams…

          1. i doubt the 25-year-old driver thing is for anything other than the image the sponsor wants. Even in the US, you only have to be 18 to sell alcohol.

            1. never mind, i stand corrected by a later post

        3. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
          17th August 2017, 6:47

          Since Martini is owned by Barcardi, can’t they just slap on some Bacardi Breezer logo’s, and have drivers aged 12 to 15?

    5. Massa was indeed looking long in the tooth this time last year, but with more downforce to suit his driving style and a definite leaders role in the team he is looking much happier and much more enthusiastic.

      There is probably only 2 ways that he will leave the team again next year. The first is if a fast, mature (Martini drinking) driver turns up with lots and lots of money. The second is if Bottas is replaced at Mercedes, in which case VB will be likely back in a Williams (and most probably better than ever).

      I’m hoping they can extract some more downforce in the Williams next season (without increasing drag too much) and Felipe enjoys his driving even more.

    6. Problem is that with just 20 seats available any change at all is pretty momentous, sending reverberations from team to team all down the grid. With a few more places, F1 could afford a bit of experimentation with one driver or another for a season. Imagine if we had a full grid of thirteen teams and twenty six seats available; there might have been a place for Frijns, maybe Di Resta would have retained his place, Almost certainly, Leclerc, Giovinazzi, Gasley – even Rowland and Aitken might be looking at a rosier future.
      That apart, I think that some ‘senior’ drivers are definitely coming to their sell-by dates. Last time I mentioned this, some people were upset by the names I mentioned as ripe for retirement in the next year or two. But with so few seats available, the pressure will be irresistible.

      1. which “senior” drivers are you talking about? you know f1 drivers can drive into their 40s? f1 teams will pick the fastest driver, not the youngest. I don’t know if you know, but the current “oldest” drivers in F1 are ALL beating their younger teammates, did you know that??
        what is it with all this “AGEISM” coming into f1 with fans??? I remember Mansell winning a championship at 42 and Damon Hill entering f1 at 34.. with the current era of harder to physically to drive f1 cars, it is no wonder the older drivers are shining. I’m really getting sick of modern f1 fans believing only young drivers have the ability to do well, as it is currently in real time being proved “WRONG”

        1. Well, let’s start with Kimi. He’s great entertainment value, but can you pretend his best days aren’t behind him and that his (younger) teammate isn’t beating him?

    7. Does anyone know whether the Martini – “driver over 25” contract item is a real thing? I’ve heard many rumours of it, but never seen anything concrete. Assuming Stroll stays, that does then limit choices for the Williams team. Personally I think Massa is now past it and could name 5 or 6 drivers I’d rather see in the seat, including Di Resta, Buemi, Vergne to only mention some of those “over 25”.

      As a rule, I don’t like junior teams, but I’d be excited to see Leclerc and Giovinazzi at Sauber, assuming Ferrari won’t want Mercedes-backed Wehrlein clogging up one of their seats.

      With these teams I’d anticipate the following line-ups:
      Williams: Massa / Stroll
      Toro Rosso: Sainz / Gasly
      Haas: Grosjean / Magnussen
      Sauber: Ericsson / Leclerc

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        15th August 2017, 18:24

        @ben-n
        It is mentioned in many places that Williams can’t take 2 drivers if they are both under 25.
        “They needed a driver over 25 years of age to replace Bottas because their title sponsor, the drinks giant Martini, cannot use two drivers under that age for its global promotional campaign.”
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/38571408

        A website with more info is this one: http://www.grandprix247.com/2017/02/01/williams-nico-quitting-meant-six-hectic-weeks-for-us/

        Williams said this: “The problem we had was at the time most of the drivers available for Formula 1 were not 25. Thus it meant six hectic weeks for us.”

        Another reason: “The team’s title sponsor – Martini – required a driver over the age of 25 to be in the team. As by law, in certain countries, anyone under that age cannot be involved in promoting liquor products.”

        It does seem that many people didn’t know this but I like Williams as a team so I was paying close attention to what was happening when they were trying to find a driver.

    8. This year Massa has been good,but unlucky that he lost many points with Dnf not his fault.His qualy form is not the best,but in the races he can still do the job needed.But hey,Massa is hated in F1Fanatic,so the negativity was expected.

      1. @miltosgreekfan
        I haven’t picked up on Massa hatered. I remember many comments about his retirement, but not hatred.

        He got a nice send off last season. It’s been a great career, but it’s time.

        1. @slotopen I ll explain what i mean as hate.Look at this article.There is no mention at Massa’s positives from the season(Bahrain & his super performance at Baku) & there is only mention to last year’s qualy.Last year qualy was 17-4,but races were 9-7.Races is what is important.Felipe’s qualy is not good,but he still brings the points with the car he has.I ll analyze it a bit.
          -Australia 2017 Qualy P7(1 spot from perfect)Good start & retakes the position
          -Bahrain P8,great start gains 2 spots
          -Spain P9 amazing start regains 2 spots before turn 1

          Felipe is not at the top of his game,but he can still offer to a team.As long as drivers like Palmer,Ericsson(not that bad but has great banking-owns the team in a way),Kvyat(accident prone & not quick after the RBR) have a place in F1,i cant see why Massa cant have.

      2. @miltosgreekfan
        Massa hasn’t been impressive since 2009. His performance has seemed to pick up a bit since he left Ferrari, but he has been very average since his crash, apart from a few standout races.

        1. Impressive no,but he had some very good season at Williams.In 2014-2015 Massa was really strong despite the bad luck he had,especially in 2014.2016 was a really strange year,but this year he has the motivation & he performs better in total.He just had bad luck in good races(Spain,Russia,Baku,Canada).Williams appreciate him so i bet he ll stay

    9. The driver line-up’s for 2018 could be rather interesting, this is how I see things panning out:
      Willams: Massa or Di Resta and Stroll
      Williams Reserve: Di Resta or Wehrline
      Renault: Hulkenberg and Kubica or Gasly
      Renault Reserve: Rowland
      McLaren: Alonso/Button or DeVries and Vandoorne
      McLaren Reserve: De Vries or Matsushita
      Toro Rosso: Kvyat and Sainz
      Toro Rosso Reserve: Gasly?
      Sauber: Giovanazzi and Ericsson
      Mercedes Bottas and Hamilton or Alonso
      Hass Reserve: Leclerc

      My reasons are as follows:
      Williams)
      in an ideal world I would love to see Massa and Di Resta as their driver line up in 2018 but unfortunately due to financial reasons Stroll will most probably be retained, if Stroll is indeed resigned they will want a more experienced driver in the other car and Massa and Di Resta are the obvious candidate’s, although I doubt Wehrline will get a race seat he may be signed as the Reserve driver if Massa retires and Di Resta is promoted.
      Renault)
      It will be interesting to see who is chosen to be Hulkenberg’s teammate, personally I really hope that it will be Kubica as he is a really talented driver and deserves a second chance in F1, however if Renault don’t think that he would be up to the job they may consider signing Gasly as he has links to the team and has raced for them in Formula E plus he is also French “which helps 😉”, although Rowland is already employed by the team I don’t think that he’s ready for an F1 seat.
      McLaren)
      Their 2018 line up will probably remain the same unless a seat becomes available for Alonso at Mercedes, in which case they would probably replace him with Button or DeVries, Matsushita is also a possibility as he is a Honda junior driver but it is more likely that he would be signed as the Reserve driver.
      Toro Rosso)
      Status quo
      Sauber)
      With the confirmation that Sauber is to pretty much become the Ferrari junior team it is highly likely that at least one of their young drivers will get a race seat, unfortunately this will probably spell the end for Wehrline at the team although Williams or Mercedes will probably sign him as their Reserve, with Ericsson’s financial backing Sauber will probably keep him which leaves one seat free for a young Ferrari driver either Giovanazzi or Leclerc, personally I think that Giovanazzi will be chosen as Ferrari would love to have a young Italian driver in their car to partner Vettel in a year or two’s when Raikkonen retires, Leclerc is a possibility but it is more likely that he will do Friday Practice for either Hass or Sauber next year.
      Mercedes)
      Bottas will be retained and their line-up will remain unchanged unless Hamilton decides to retire which i think is a real possibility “especially if he loses the championship to Vettel”, in which case Alonso is the best and obvious candidate to replace him.

      These are just my thoughts/predictions and I’m sure that others will differ 😃.

    10. I don’t think Massa has been that bad this year, personally. If I’m right, 2011 was when Massa’s form really dropped, and wasn’t that good since. Perhaps with the return to a car more similar to how he could push back in 2008, he’s found a bit more form.

      That’s not to say that there aren’t better options on the grid for Williams, but I don’t think he’s as bad this year as some seem to make out.

    11. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      15th August 2017, 19:02

      I heard from the Mclaren garage on TV last race weekend that Vandoorne will be racing for them next year. I don’t know about Alonso. But if he leaves, I don’t see why any other driver but Button would race for them. Button is already the reserve driver and has a contract with the team for this year and the next. And he did say that he could well race in 2018 at the end of 2016. Perheps he was predicting that Alonso would want to move. So if he does, I don’t see why McLaren would pick any other driver.

    12. Agree with Keith, Massa should probably call it a day in F1. Di Resta would be a good replacement if he’s told to tone down the smarts, and for sure he has learned a lot being on the outside.

    13. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      15th August 2017, 21:36

      I think Massa must be one of the most under rated drivers this season.

      He had a poor season last year, but has had a much better season this year that so many people don’t seem to have realized how well he has been doing. He isn’t as good as he used to be years ago, but as we all seem to think Verstappen has missed out on loads of points due to reliability and bad luck, then Massa has certainly missed out on a fair few. He was running a very decent 6th in Russia. He then had a slow puncture and had to finish 9th. He had to swerve to avoid contact in Spain. In doing this he got a puncture. Then later on, Vandoorne just didn’t see him and crashed into him. Luckily Massa was ok after this but certainly missed out of a decent points finish. Canada, Williams was very strong here – and he got taken out by Sainz. Baku, Stroll was better in qualifying but Massa was much quicker than him in the race. Every restart, Massa did really well and fought with Kimi and Vettel. This is one of the strongest moments I have seen from him in a couple of years. His rear dampers then broke. He quite easily will have been 2nd. Might possibly have won but unlikely. In Austria, the Williams truly was dreadful, but Massa managed to finish 9th 20 seconds ahead of Stroll who many say seems to be getting closer to him now. considering how poor the Williams was, he did very well here again. Williams seemed poor again in Britain. I don’t think this is anything to do with the drivers. Since their upgrade in Austria, they have seemed poor. and both drivers seem to be noticing it. But at leased Massa did manage a points finish again. In Hungary, I can’t judge Massa but I can say that he was unlucky again.

      My main point is that I think Massa has had a really underrated season by too many people. He is much better than last year and has potentially missed out on about 40 points this year due to bad luck. That would get him ahead of both Force India drivers.

      1. +10000

      2. He is not amazing but he is better than 1/4 of the grid and as good as 2/4.

      3. You summed it up perfectly. Couldn’t agree more.

    14. I’d like to see Massa retire and Bottas go back to Williams for now…LH and FA at Mercedes for 2018 because I just think TW needs to jump on him, then FA and VB after 2018. I know…more and more, people seem to think VB is a shoe in to stay at Mercedes, but I just don’t think it will be nearly the fun FA/LH would be. What did the stats just say? LH has lead VB by twice as many laps? Is that really what TW wants for his top team? A ‘laggard’ (lol I do like VB and he has stepped up wonderfully and will likely get better) or does he want an enthralling rivalry and to put the Ferraris back in their place?

      Still awaiting official announcements and still believe that the gloves will have to come off between LH and VB at some point anyway, if they are both truly fighting for a WDC. So if he has to manage a rivalry why not one between two proven WDCs? And ride the explosive marketing impact at the same time? LH/VB = ho hum…LH/FA = fasten your seatbelts we’ve GOT to see this, and Ferrari who? Seb who?

      1. @robbie

        LH/FA = fasten your seatbelts we’ve GOT to see this, and Ferrari who? Seb who?

        It won’t quite be “Seb who?” if he wins the title ahead of LH/FA, like Raikkonen did ;)

        1. Lol true, but what a season it would be. And I really just meant Mercedes would glean so much more attention, so much more of the chatter…

          In your scenario that Ferrari would have to be mighty…all the more reason Mercedes don’t need this “after you…no no I insist after YOU” lovefest.

          1. Of course I see the other side too which you are implying…KR’s Ferrari wasn’t mighty so much as the other two took points off each other. And that could happen again…could happen with VB and LH this year…and I just hadn’t been thinking that’s cool with TW…thought he rather just have the two very best available (FA wasn’t for him for this year) and lock out the front row instead of F1 offering the world two number ones and two number twos. We could have 4 WDC’s vying for the title next year, two at Ferrari and two at Mercedes.

    15. rafael martins
      16th August 2017, 1:11

      Wind tunnel, bad engineering, not Massa fault at all. When FW’s car was the quickest on the straights, Massa not take too much punches from Bottas on Sunday, 2015 especially.

      This years car not evolve in any aspect, just when a “nervous car” would benefit Massa due his experience.

      I bet he stays on the grid.

      1. He never wanted to retire in the first place so I think he’s pretty safe.

    16. Non situation I reckon. Williams wouldn’t risk Pascal and Martini doesn’t want Pascal. For the sponsors Massa is the man, he’s from a massive market, only JB could take his place. For that reason I don’t think Williams is going to set the driver market. Considering Haas seems to believe drivers make no difference, I reckon it’s the 2nd Renault seat that’s going to set a trend.

    17. One year contracts will be the more popular choice among teams in 2018. As good a driver as Felipe Massa on his day is, he has nothing more to offer at Williams. With Stroll going nowhere Mercedes can pull the strings and place Wehrlein at Williams. He is relatively experienced now and needs to prove himself in a midfield car. If Williams can improve the car, at least he will have a fight with Esteban Ocon in Force India and that could be something Mercedes have in mind as far as their junior driver lineup is concerned.
      I am not sure whether Sauber is in any position to replace Ericsson. If Wehrlein moves out, at least LeClerc/Giovinazzi gets a shot at that seat. If Ferrari is serious about a junior team and if Sauber is that option, it needs to give performance related support to the team. A tail end car, running a lap or two down does not look good for the brand.
      Kvyat is now a known deal and in my opinion, the only reason Red Bull are hanging on to him is to have some stability in case Sainz goes to another team. Either way, chances of a new face at Torro Rosso is high as of now.

      1. @pinakghosh No, Wehrlein can’t drive for Williams. He is not 25.
        Sauber aint gonna be a Ferrari B team. According to media in Sweden money is not a problem any more and Sauber can choose what drivers they want to hire. The question is if Ferrari makes Sauber a deal with the engines that they can’t refuse, in return give a seat to LEC or GIO.
        ERI could actually be an option for Williams. He has the age and experience. Force India nearly signed him last year, it can be the same with Williams.

        1. Williams will never put a younger driver in Massa place. They can’t afford to run 2 unexperienced drivers. There are few safe hands that can probably be better than Massa and I don’t think they can attract any of them.

        2. What is the basis of this 25 years?
          Pascal Wehrlein was born 18th October 1994.
          Lance Stroll was born 29th October 1998.
          Martini, the title sponsors of Williams F1 team cant sign a driver who is not of legal drinking age.
          Williams have signed Stroll only after he reached 18 years. Wehrlein is older than Stroll.
          Wehrlein has scored 5 points to Ericsson’s 0 and has out qualified Ericsson.
          Williams already have money, title sponsor and other sponsors. Why should the team even consider Ericsson?

          Regarding whether Sauber will or will not be a Ferrari B team remains to be seen. But Sergio Marchionne has a different view (link below). It may be because the engine deal will provide option of running Ferrari backed drivers but the way I see it, Sauber is in need of a title sponsor and Ferrari boss had earlier evinced interest in bringing Alfa Romeo in F1. Also with Mercedes looking at Formula E, Fiat could be an option for Ferrari should they at all consider an entry.

          https://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2017/07/sergio-marchionne-says-that-sauber-engine-deal-will-create-ferrari-f1-junior-team/

          1. @pinakghosh If he is born 1994 he´s under 25 right? If we are talking about 2018.

            Do you actually think the score and qualifying is all that the teams are looking at. They do in depth analysis of all telemetry etc. As an example, look at the autosport forum and search for race pace. There is a guy there who made serious calculations/stats regarding race pace. Ericsson has been a lot quicker than Wehrlein in the races. They are also extremely close in qualifying with a total difference of something like tenth of a second.

            Of course Marchionne is saying that to put some pressure on Sauber to take on their junior drivers. But as I said in my post above, they are not in the need of money and it all depends on how much money Ferrari wants to pay for a seat.

          2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            16th August 2017, 9:20

            Williams must have just one of their drivers over 25. If you read some of my comments further up, I have a few links that explain the reasons.

            And your point about Wehrlein, yes, he certainly has done better in qualifying, but this is hardly the most importent thing. in the races, They have both performed about equally even though is is Wehrlein who has got the points. Ericsson was 11th in Spain and was on a strategy that didn’t work out as well. If they switched strategies, Ericsson will probably have been 9th and Wehrlein 10th or out out of the points. And in Baku, it was only because of team orders that Wehrlein got that point. Ericsson was promised the switchback if Wehrlein didn’t pull ahead but it never happened. The gap between these 2 drivers isn’t much at all overall. It seems that when Wehrlien has finished behind though, he has been behind by nearly 30 seconds on several occasions. Even in Russia when they were on identical strategies. They are both up and down and both sometimes have good races. Ericsson’s are just often out the points. Both also have quite a lot of poor races. I personally don’t think either are good enough for a top team. But maybe one in the midfield.

    18. @keithcollantine what was the simulator work that giovinazzi did that was so good at the hungarian gp weekend? I must have missed that story – was it something to do with vettel’s broken steering?

    19. Why not Alonso at Williams?

      1. I think if he was thinking of that, as in, a non-top 3 team, Renault would be a better option. If he wants his usual salary then Williams can’t afford him. If he was willing to drive for free it would only be for a top ride. Simply there is no reason to think Williams will become a contending team within the time frame FA has left in F1. Renault might. I’d like to think Mercedes will be an option for him if not for 2018 then 2019.

      2. Alonso will only drive for a Factory Team…as he has said many times…he turned down Brawn for that reason when Honda pulled out…big mistake.

    20. Stroll’s presence in F1 degrades the sport. Regardless of how “good” he is, or not, it hurts the image of F1 to have a driver whose presence is based solely on the fact his father is writing a check for $35 million each year to Williams.
      Please don’t counter with the comparisons to Nikki Lauda or Ayrton Senna, as you’ll just embarrass yourself.

      1. Disagree. He’s not the first pay driver but he certainly has qualifications more than some paybdrivers have had. To say he is ‘only’ there because of his dad’s money is ridiculous, and insults Williams. Many other things hurt the image of F1, like DRS for example, way more than yet another driver bringing money/sponsorship to a team. And you aren’t even allowing him his contract term to learn and improve, which he is doing. Also, it is not the Strolls’ fault that for years now the lesser resourced teams have had to take in drivers who bring money. That is F1, FOM, and BE’s fault for moulding F1 that way, into a barely sustainable model that in more recent years has seen the top 3 or 4 teams able to get their way to suit themselves leaving the other teams with less and less chance. Stroll’s presence is a result, not a cause, of the current state of affairs. And he may well yet do great.

    21. Paul di Resta’s recent run in the car may also make him a candidate.

      I don’t think I could disagree more. There’s been a bit of a hype surrounding Paul di Resta during the Hungarian GP weekend, and while I think he definitely deserved the praise for jumping into the cockpit at short notice, virtually unprepared, and not making a fool of himself, I believe it would be a gross exaggeration to consider that performance a sign that he could be the real top performer at Williams.
      The Hungarian GP is all we have to assess his performance, and the best we can say about him is that he did a great job, in the circumstances.
      In fact, he was outqualified by Stroll with a gap of 0.767 seconds, which is solid evidence for the fact that di Resta is an extremely competent racing driver. But then again, he was measured against Lance Stroll, who has yet to earn a reputation as a benchmark. The same Lance Stroll whose average qualifying gap to Massa is just over 0.7 seconds (with two little slip-ups in Azerbaijan and Austria, where the gaps were negligible, but the gap in Q1 at Sivlerstone was back to normal). Now, if we naïvely add these gaps and assume that di Resta had replaced an unwell Stroll, di Resta’s gap to Massa could’ve been in the vicinity of 1.5 seconds (1.466, to be precise).

      Now for a rhetorical question:
      In a team that currently only has one competitive driver, how reasonable would it be to replace that driver by a driver whose most meaningful credential so far is lapping within 1.5 seconds of the driver he should replace. In my opinion, there’s a huge lot of optimism involved in seein what Paul di Resta could do without much preparation (he does drive in the simulator at Grove, so he did have a lot more than ‘no preparation’), and projecting a dotted line that quickly intersects with Massa’s.
      If that’s how that works, Williams should let me drive their car. My relevant experience consists of 20 years of playing racing simulations and some go-karting, and I’m not sure I can compete with Massa’s featherweight physique. I’d struggle to lap within 5 seconds of his times, but I have a huge potential for development …

      ;-)

      1. The Hungarian GP is all we have to assess his performance

        It’s more than weird you don’t know that he has over 50 F1 races.

        1. @balue
          It’s more than weird of you to make such a statement based on nothing but the fact that I didn’t explicitly mention this.
          While I can’t remember exactly how many races he participated in, I’ve seen every single one of them. And I clearly remember that he failed to impress me in virtually all of them. In his two seasons with Sutil as his team mate, he was clearly outscored the first time, and outscored Sutil somewhat less clearly the next time around. When compared to Hülkenberg, he had a decent start to the season, but was outclassed in the second half of it.
          In short, his three seasons at Force India tell us that he’s not a hopeless case, but on the other hand, he was no better than Sutil, who was a so-so driver, and definitely not a match for Hülkenberg.

          So, why did I say that the Hungarian GP is all we have to assess his performance?
          Because his Force India years are utterly irrelevant. The matter at hand is whether he’d be better than Massa. Well, he’s never driven against one of Massa’s team mates before, he’s never driven in the same car as Massa before, and his last F1 race was almost 4 years ago. All we can tell from his Force India years is that he was outscored by his team mates more often that not, wit both of them being unknown quantities regarding Massa, as they never drove against him in the same car.
          Therefore, the first relevant thing di Resta has done in F1, when it comes to comparing him to Massa, is driving the Williams in Hungary, doing a respectable job in these circumstances, but definitely not proving that Williams would be well-advised to let him carry the team.

    22. Paul di Resta’s recent run in the car when we was, err, last and then retired. Sign him up quick.

      Massa is trouncing Stroll and should be going nowhere.

    23. I definitely think, of all those teams, the line-up I’d want is the Haas line-up.

      I do think that it really is time for both Raikkonen and Massa to either call time on things or have time called for them (the latter especially for Massa). Raikkonen retiring from F1 would allow a bit of shuffling in the field as someone from either Red Bull or high-midfield could move up and then the rest of the pack shuffles to fill the gaps.

      My guess is Di Resta has no real chance of a Williams drive. Not because of his Hungarian GP outing, which is hard to take any judgement from without the benefit of a full weekend – but just because Williams have never looked or sounded very interested in actually getting him to do any driving before. When they thought Massa was retiring last season, he was never a serious candidate for the drive then. That to me is surely the bigger issue for his chances.

      Other than this Martini 25 thing, Wehrlein to me is the person for that drive, he has the Mercedes links, he’s impressed me a few times in dragging Manors and Saubers into Q2 and into the points, and Leclerc is almost surely going to take that drive away from him at Sauber.

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