With McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari all confirming their 2011 driver line-ups, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the 2011 Silly Season is over and done with.
But you’d be wrong.
There is an absolute wealth of directions this could go, and it’s my pleasure to bring this thirteen-part series to you. It contains, dear reader, more twists and turns than an episode of LOST. More betrayal, double-crosses, triple-crosses, unfaithfulness and generally-naughty antics than an episode of ALIAS. And more plot than an episode of FELICITY, or pretty much anything else JJ Abrams has ever been invovled in. They will be presented in the order that I predict will be reflected in the 2010 final standings and will be updated when and where I choose (read: when I can remember and when I can be bothered … which will be frequently).
EPISODE I: Red Bull North American Racing Team (Ferrari)
#1 – Sebastian VETTEL
#2 – Mark WEBBER
Despite burying the proverbial hatchet after their Turkish delight turned sour, all is not well in Milton Keynes. Mark Webber starts questioning Red Bull’s strategy calls after his late stop in Montreal put him well and truly behind the struggling Sebstian Vettel when Webber felt that an earlier stop could have given him a shot at victory. Ever the diplomat (or at least, ever since Istanbul), Chrstian Horner rushes to Webber’s side. However, the middle of 2010 plays out like the middle of 2009, with Webber and Vettel spending more time taking points out of one another than out of their rivals.
Sebasian Vettel exorcises his reliability demons in time for the British Grand Prix, but such is the nature of these demons that they tend to jump from one host to the next. Vettel is cured, but Webber is infected, and he hits out at Adrian Newey. By the final away leg, tensions are at breaking point and it becomes obvious that the team will be unable to pair the German and the Australian together. When the chequered flag falls in Abu Dhabi, it is Vettel who wins the ttle, but Webber is a close second, the two drivers feeding off the intensity of their dispute to put in soe stunning drives and secure both titles for Red Bull.
However, the team has some difficult decisions to make. The divide is such that Vettel and Newey are on one side, with Webber and Horner on the other, and the team needs to decide who they want to keep. It is Parris Mullins who comes to the rescue, buying into Scuderia Toro Rosso and renaming it the North American Racing Team. He offers Red Bull free title sponsorship if they give up one side of the dispute to the team. Red Bull agree, as everyone in te Red Bull family can stay. Vettel and Newey cross the floor to NART.
However, the money from the NART project is coming from Ferrari, and evidence emerges that Maranello plans to collapse the team as soon as the ink on Vettel’s contract is dry and moving both the young German and Newey to their team, which they believe will establish a new era of Ferrari dominance. Even more, Ferrari have been subtle manipulating the media to blow the dispute out of proportion. Mark Webber quickly intervenes, signing a contract with NART and filling the second seat before Ferrari can absorb the team. A shuffle of racing licences effectively mean that all that has changed is the Red Bull Racing name. Red Bull’s civil war is over, with the team vowing to come out stronger after being played for fools by Ferrari. They now have the two top drivers in the sport, the best designer in the paddock, and they are completely funded by Ferrari for the season.
Livery: With Red Bull being a household name, the team take a page out of BMW’s book and produce a series of “Art Cars”. The livery changes every four races, with the team commissioning independent artists and design studios alike to provide liveries for both cars (after receiving special dispensation from Bernie Ecclestone to run tw different liveries).