Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, Hungaroring, 2015

Renault boss casts doubt over 2016 driver line-up

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn suggests the driver line-up for 2016 could still change, despite Lotus having signed Pastor Maldonado and Jolyon Palmer before they were bought by the manufacturer.

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Keith Collantine
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  • 105 comments on “Renault boss casts doubt over 2016 driver line-up”

    1. Can’t say I blame him (Carlos Ghosn) really.

      1. TOTALly not.

      2. Ocon ftw.

      3. Meh, I think it’s an OK line-up given how bad the engine is. Maldonado is a great entertainer and we are all curious how good or how bad Palmer will be.

        1. Maldonado is proven rubbish.

          1. @sato113 I never said he was any good, just that he is a great entertainer. No matter how boring the race may be, there’s always the possibility Maldonado will crash into someone.

            1. and renault want that? nope. they want speed and consistency. Something Maldonado hasn’t shown at all this year.

          2. he was great in first couple of years, even won a race, that is not rubbish. he has had a lot of bad luck in past too seasons also.

      4. Maybe thay would swap Palmer for JEV.

      5. Lotus actually has the poorest driver line up on the grid, so with the Money coming in, it’s obvious they would want to better driver in at least one of the 2 seats. Hopefully, this could be the last of Pastor Maldonado in a midfield team.
        I thought he’s been the most rubbish driver over the past 2 to 3 seasons who has still been retained in the sport.

    2. I don’t think Vettel is a ‘new man’, or anything, but there is a comparable difference. He’s more like the Vettel of 2010 who was enjoying his new challenge. By 2013 he showed a few arrogant tendencies, and in 2014 obviously he was under-performing so that was frustrating. Now I think he is more relaxed, it doesn’t mean he is showing us something we haven’t seen before, but simply that we are seeing something we haven’t seen for a while.

      1. Alonso went through a similar thing when he went to ferrari, many hated him before that(for no good reason mostly other than the media told them to) then he went and grafted at ferrari and got wins that he never should have & almost 2 titles! and it made everyone like him.

        Seb is going through a similar phase.

        1. More like everyone is going through a Seb phase. I just saw a survey on the Internet about favorite drivers and such. You cannot believe how popular Vettel is at the moment. It’s unfbelievable!

          1. ??? Why is that unbelievable? He is a 4 times champion. And for those who thought he only won because of the RB car made by Newey, they have now seen he is really good in a F1 car. He is intelligent and very easy to like. Doesn’t have any crazy rock-star attitudes.

            1. EXACTLY!

              It’s high time people realize he’s the talent he is. Problem is, most nay-saying bandwagon-jumpers haven’t followed him from his early years. The guy is incredible – from his driving to his work ethic and attitude.

            2. hezla, just because an individual has been successful, it does not automatically mean that they will be popular as well. Nelson Piquet Sr, for example, won the WDC three times but is probably more actively disliked than admired because, even without the actions of his son tainting the family name, Piquet Sr’s attitude is fairly toxic.

    3. I’m pretty sure that Palmer will be fine, he would’ve made his contract watertight. Maldonado though… 🤑

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        6th December 2015, 16:51

        But ‘watertight’ is still not as strong as ‘airtight’ ;-)

        But personally I’d rather see Maldonado keep his seat. Both are pay drivers, and would not be among the top-22 based on merit. At least Maldonado is more entertaining (and occasionally showed some genuine pace this year). @ambroserpm

        1. @coldfly @ambroserpm

          Money or not, both are GP2 champions. I’d rather see Maldonaldo out of the seat for his terrible attitude and lack of culpability over the years, but Palmer is a feeder-series champion, so deserves a shot.

          1. ColdFly F1 (@)
            6th December 2015, 23:07

            Palmer: GP2 champion! @optimaximal. Yes he was in his 4th season, after being beaten by everybody and his dog in his first 3 attempts (including his team mates Král, Ericsson, Nasr).

            I do understand though that many would rather see Maldonado to lose his seat.

    4. Interesting to read hints about potential changes to the driver lineup at Renault (née Lotus).

      Not sure that it will be easy for Renault to just dump Palmer or (less likely, given the budget he brings) Maldonado.

      As the Sauber debacle earlier this year demonstrated, and contrary to popular belief in the paddock, driver contracts are enforceable. A team can’t just walk away from a deal just because a team changes its mind.

      While it’s impossible to be certain without knowing all the details, I’d be surprised if the sale of Lotus entitled the new owner to walk away from the existing driver contracts, unless they contain an express clause to that effect.

      As I understand it, when a team is sold the buyer acquires not simply the assets but the existing corporate entity, in order to preserve the licence which permits the team to enter the championship. When you acquire the corporation, you inherit its liabilities, which include its contractual obligations. Unless there is some liquidation event, the existing contracts carry over.

      Palmer and Maldonado could sue to enforce their current deals.

      Long story short, Renault might be stuck with the currently announced 2016 drivers, like it or not.

      1. Agreed. Let’s hope they don’t do a Monisha.

      2. Renault (née Lotus)

        née Renault née Benetton née Toleman ;)

        1. Team Enstone, haha – pundits already refer to them that way a lot. :)

          Talk about identity crisis, don’t we?

          1. They’ve not always been Team Enstone either; before ’92, they were located it Whitney :)

      3. @tdog +1 I believe that’s what Maldonado would have to do (sue Renault) because of PDSVA. And Palmer would be quite infuriated if he got the boot out too. Well said mate

      4. I’m pretty sure they can fire Maldonado and Palmer if they want. It won’t neccesarily be cheap, though. It depends on how commited Renault are.

        It’s not like drivers have never been fired from teams, right?

        1. Depends on the contracts, Maldo might have a termination payment of 60 mil for all we know. Frankly they should keep 2 pay drivers for next year because 2 top tier drivers would be a waste of money while they have the current Renault engine.

          1. Well said, look at Honda. The 50 million paid out to Alonso and Button were probably better spent on development of the engine.

          2. It obviously goes both ways – Williams made handsomely off Maldonaldo jumping ship early…

            My guess is Lotus would have had the foresight to do a similar deal.

      5. As the Sauber debacle earlier this year demonstrated, and contrary to popular belief in the paddock, driver contracts are enforceable. A team can’t just walk away from a deal just because a team changes its mind.

        That´s only true if the driver doesn´t care about getting an F1-drive again. Also, Sauber had already taken the money VdG brought in. It would certainly be easier to get a pay-driver out of your cockpit if you do not take his money beforehand.

        1. But we know lotus needed @crammond, and that they already have, the money from Maldonado; might well be that the same goes for Palmer, given Lotus’ situation this year – how else did they have money for next year’s car?

          Maybe if Renault had been able to move more quickly, they’d all been in a better situation. FOM certainly improved F1 by dragging their feet on that money for Renault.)

          1. @bosyber Yes, Renault will probably have to pay them out. And when they do that, it´d probably better for the drivers to take it rather then going to court and thus destroying their employabilty.

            On a general note, I don´t like the notion of “who has a contract will drive”, it makes for a static, boring driver market. Drivers should be dismissable, as that would allow not only for F1 to get rid of drivers that are hardly F1-material but also to try out a bigger number of rookies to see who might do surprisingly good. When last years Sauber-situation gets mentioned again and again in the comment, one might note that this was a completely normal F1-thing to happen not that long ago. I liked it when there were more of those stories, as the story of pretty much any 80ies/early 90ies backmarker-team makes for an interesting read.

            1. @crammond, a driver, just like any other member of the team, is always dismissable in a purely functional sense – so long as the team fulfils the requirements of their contract and terminates it in the agreed manner, there is nothing to stop them getting rid of a driver.

              What is an entirely separate matter is the other aspect of what you are advocating, which is being able to swap out drivers like a light bulb (the old phrase which Williams used to use). From the point of view of the team, constantly changing driver line ups is a negative situation for the team given that it is highly disruptive and expensive – the teams of the 1980’s and 1990’s that resorted to such tactics were often close to the point of bankruptcy, and even then there was sometimes strong internal resistance from the technical departments about such disruptive practises. The decisions that Kaltenborn made this season were very much like those teams – predominantly driven by desperation and therefore not necessarily something that you want to emulate.

              Given that the team principals have to take into consideration that they are in charge of the livelihoods of several hundred people, they are not going to want to change drivers on a whim just because they might be lucky enough to eventually find one that might be “surprisingly good”. There has to be a strong incentive for the team to want to change driver i.e. a strong logic that picking a new driver is likely to be a net positive gain for the team in some way or form – otherwise, it is a pointless waste of resources that the team could be using to make improvements elsewhere.

          2. @bosyber

            Maybe if Renault had been able to move more quickly, they’d all been in a better situation. FOM certainly improved F1 by dragging their feet on that money for Renault.

            Or maybe if Renault were ready to invest more money themselves, the people working at Lotus, Red Bull and Toro Rosso wouldn’t have had to fear for their jobs.

            In the end, it’s Bernie who saved these three teams, like it or not.

            1. yes @paeschli, that’s what that first part of the quoted sentence is about.

              Bernie saved those three teams? I don’t see any reason to think that.

            2. @paeschli All Bernie/FOM did was bring forward their championship payments (which they were due anyway) and forgo a few freight charges (which FOM makes a hefty profit on anyway).

              Oh, and Bernie allowed the mechanics into his place to eat once…

              He’s such a saint!

            3. @bosyber Well if Bernie refused Renault’s historic bonus, three teams would have collapsed. So Bernie saved those three teams, right?

              @optimaximal Bernie is not a saint but neither is Renault. I can’t like a team who is using ‘we are ready to cause the lay off of over 600 people’ as a bargaining argument.

      6. When Maldonado and Palmer were being signed, the Lotus management already worked on the Renault takeover and they wanted it. I expect that they would not want to saddle a prospective buyer with unnecessary burdens, and draw the contracts accordingly.

      7. A drivers contract is like every other contract, both parties can back out of it under certain condition and with certain (financial) consequences. Technically it’s nothing more, nothing less.
        I don’t think Reanult would want to get rid of the PDVSA money, because that’s simply much more than the difference in prize money they would achieve with a more serious driver. Palmers place however seems to be in danger, however, I feel a bit sorry for him not getting the chance to prove himself. Not that he looks like a new Hamilton or Verstappen, but there are a couple of drivers that got their second and third chance, and didn’t live up to them, why shouldn’t he receive his first?
        But it was obviously a strange decision from Lotus to sign a new driver in the very middle of the Renault rake-over talks…

        1. @andrewt Renault would likely be happy to see the back of PDVSA because they’re a industry rival to Total.

          1. @optimaximal good point, I haven’t considered Total, only saw that buttload of money that might be attractive even to a giant like Renault, even if a Maldonado is attached to it, but valid point.

      8. ColdFly F1 (@)
        6th December 2015, 17:10

        As I understand it, when a team is sold the buyer acquires not simply the assets but the existing corporate entity, in order to preserve the licence which permits the team to enter the championship.

        That’s not necessarily the case. @tdog
        Just look at Marussia earlier this year. It all depends on how the entity is bought (going concern, asset sale, or some kind of company (voluntary) arrangement).
        In the last 2 examples it is up to BE/FOM if they transfer the license. But surely if they did it with Marussia he’ll allow it for Renault as well.

    5. Palmer and Maldonado just isn’t a Renault works team lineup. I can’t blame them for wanting to change this. Vergne would be a great choice.

      1. Isn’t he a bit busy with Formula E?

    6. The news surrounding F1 has been pretty good for the last few days… I’m getting worried. But if Renault were to get a new driver lineup I’d be delighted, Maldonado has had way too many chances, and Palmer just doesn’t seem too convincing. Vergne would be a nice addition if they’re looking for a French driver.
      Thanks for the COTD by the way Keith!

      1. @ciaran Good? A few weeks ago, Renault said they were ready to quit F1, meaning they were ready to make three teams collapse (Lotus, Red Bull and Toro Rosso). The fact we will not have 16 cars on the grid next year is all thanks to Bernie and the millions he is ready to give to Renault. Giving millions to some teams (Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, Red Bull, Williams and Renault) and nothing to other teams isn’t something which makes me cheerful.

        1. Tend to agree. But still, it’s not the most horrible solution.

          And as long as the commitment to stay for a errr, 9, 10 years was it? is true, then it’s a positive thing I think. Plus it guarantees that they will stay as an engine manufacturer, something F1 would sorely miss.

    7. Wonder how much it would cost Renault to sack both of them, sign Vergne and buy Vandoorne out of his ‘just sit there and watch’ contract with McLaren?

      From the realistic options available, those two would be my dream Renault team.

      1. @neilosjames They might not have to buy Vandoorne out, McLaren may well agree to let him have a seat to get him on his way.

        That said, it would cost too much to do that I am sure, especially with how much PDVSA money is worth.

        It would, however, be great to see Vergne with a seat, although I am not sure if he is contracted to Ferrari reserve / test role for next year or not.

    8. So I guess Grosjean made the right decision to move…?

      1. He’s still a pretty good candidate for the Ferrari seat once Kimi calls it quits – if Verstappen does not head to Maranello, that is.

        1. @atticus-2 I think both Grosjean and Verstappen won’t be at Ferrari for the forseeable future.

          1. @xtwl Hm, interesting thought. What do you think who will it be then?

          2. @xtwl they certainly need a new one come 2017. Can’t see Kimi there and there is no experienced hand (who is not a geriatric) out there other than Grosjean.

            IMO Grosjean in Haas is a placeholder for his Ferrari contract in 2017 unless Max out does himself in 2016 and makes him irresistible for Ferrari to refuse him.

          3. @atticus-2, @evered7 – I could be very wrong indeed but I stronly believe this is Ferrari their philosophy. They want to get drivers titles in the coming years. They have a driver in place who will deliver those. Vettel, him and nobody else. Vettel is the future of Ferrari until he retires.

            Whom do they then want in that second seat? A frenchman who still wants to prove himself in the sport win races and titles, somebody that could cause unwanted fights in the Ferrari camp, I don’t think so. Or a young very talented dutchman that potentially could disturb the harmony at Ferrari because he does not want to play second to Vettel and his title ambitions?

            Neither of them is a good match alongside Vettel. They want somebody who will bring in the points but when it matters move to the side for the number one at the team. They want somebody like Kimi who they know will score to what the car can do and stay out of the way of Vettel.

            I don’t see Kimi leaving the sport in 2016 to be honest, I’m expeciting him to have a long and pointless career filled with a handful of podiums along the way whilst Vettel becomes the second most succesful Ferrari driver. Call me crazy but of anyone from the current field I see GUT joining them sooner than Verstappen or Grosjean.

            1. @xtwl one point you overlook is that Vettel needs a good teammate who can act as a buffer between him and the competition.

              Guti will never be able to do that unless he has a car underneath him like the 2014 Merc. Frankly I dont see Ferrari having such a dominance in the coming years until the rule changes.

              Kimi is aging but if he has a rousing 2016, he will want to retire on a high as well rather than get sacked by Ferrari a second time.

              Grosjean might have title aspirations but I doubt even he thinks it is possible for him to win one with the current talents in the field. He will be a younger version of the older Kimi IMO.

              But I agree that Vettel is the focal point for Ferrari for years to come.

              Anyway all this is speculation and only when the season reveals itself, will we have any idea what is going to happen.

              A lot riding on Haas F1 and Grosjean will hope for a decent car for him to be visible (like the STR of this season or FI).

            2. @xtwl I don’t think Vettel really cares if his teammate is Gutierrez or Grosjean. Those two can by no means be mentioned on the same page, but, frankly, Vettel is one of the sports greats and thus is expected to beat both of them. He would have a bit of a harder time with Grosjean, but still – a better driver may also prove to be more of a motivation to him, see Webber.

              Of course, Verstappen is a different matter entirely – because if we assume he will also become a great driver then Vettel might, after all, do want to skip being a teammate to him. That would really be one cook too many in the kitchen. That’s why I wrote that Grosjean’s chances are good only if Ferrari does not take up Verstappen – that would be risky for Vettel, neither Grosjean nor Gutierrez would be, so they might as well move for a better second driver, as @evered7 pointed it out.

        1. I think Grosjean is overall mild-tempered enough to be number 2 as his years with Kimi in Lotus are fine but…I agree more with @xtwl that there’s a possibility that kimi stays as long as he does not bad in 2016. Just think about Massa stayed there for how many years….

          I really like verstappen but he’s not mentally mature enough for Ferrari. Also his dad told him never to let teammate through so haha…

    9. so alonso to renault?

      1. I’m with you! Crazier things have happened in his career

      2. Again? :)

        Actually, that’s an interesting question: has any driver left a team twice, only to go back to them twice?

      3. @swindle94 As long as Piquet stays away!

        1. There is another Piquet on his way…

    10. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      6th December 2015, 2:54

      The FIA Gala video absolutely nailed it with the Interstellar music. Best soundtrack ever.

      However, the hosts announcing the awards were beyond awkward. I mean holy geeze that was bad.

      1. @tophercheese21 I’m no expert on French TV hosts, but I’m pretty sure one of the presenters of the gala is Romain Grosjean’s wife.

    11. No doubt the sales and transfer contract between “Lotus” and Renault could be an interesting read. Anybody have a spare copy? ;-)

      But, I wonder what the details are concerning contractual agreements made by Lotus, especially regarding driver contracts, and if/how they may or may not transfer financial responsibility to Renault. This being only one legal aspect concerning the many assets and liabilities and how they transfer, or not, to Renault.

      I’m not an attorney, but having been party to multiple business sale transactions I know that most anything that both parties (buyer and seller) agree to can be written into a contract. Disclaimer: Obviously the elements of the contract must be complete and legally binding in the jurisdiction in which it is entered into.

      So, who knows if the driver contracts have actually been transferred to Renault or if they remain the sole responsibility of Lotus? After all, didn’t Lotus already receive some of the Maldonado money from PDSVA? If so, why would Renault feel obligated to receive a contract with such little benefit? Maybe these are the kinds of details that made this whole deal take so long to finalize.

      Personally I wouldn’t mind seeing Palmer get a chance to prove himself. And JEV would be a great fit for Renault.

    12. That video make the 2015 season look almost interesting!

    13. I bet Monisha is on the phone with PDVSA as we speak!

      1. Can’t exactly blame her if she was…..

    14. Its an article given by a French company’s CEO to a French magazine. I don’t know the language well but I presume it was an answer to a direct question of “Will you hire a French driver?”. I wouldn’t read too much into the answer.

      Money is still important in F1. Ditching that for the sake of nationality wouldn’t be the wise thing to do. Vijay Mallaya didn’t do it for Force India and it paid off handsomely for them.

    15. Renault shouldn’t sign a French driver just for the sake of having another Frenchman on the field.

      Maldonado (although the was trashed by Grosjean) had a really solid 2015, consistently scoring points in the second half of the season. Palmer rightfully deserves his go in a F1 car, although there are quite a few drivers would like to see make their debut ahead of him.

      Also, who would they actually sign? I can’t see Vergne leaving Formula E in a hurry, Pic was mediocre at best and Ocon is tied to Mercedes. Likewise Gasly with Red Bull. That leaves the likes of Vaxiviere – who was actually part of Lotus’ development programme.

      1. Asides from competing in Formula E, Vergne is still employed by Ferrari as a test and development driver – any prospective deal would involve buying him out from that contract first.

        I’d agree that, overall, the number of available options for Renault if they wanted to go down that route is rather limited, which makes me suspect that Ghosn’s statement was playing to the French media. The other option is that Ghosn may hire one of those figures as a test driver rather than a front line driver, and then run that driver in occasional free practise sessions for publicity purposes.

    16. if Renault want to be competitive they definetely have to change their driver line-up because they have at he moment got one of the worst driver lineups on the grid.
      a) Pastor Maldonado – Only chosen by Lotus because of his Sponsorship.
      Jolyon Palmer – Does not seem to be a super talent like quite a few others

      As a start for Renault i suggest:
      Kevin Magnussen – Jean Eric Vergne

      Jean Eric Vergne is a very talented driver and also French so he is a good fit for Renault.
      Kevin Magnussen is very talented (getting a podium on your debut is no joke) so i think he would be a good bet for the team and also since he is no longer part of McLaren

      any thoughts?

    17. “Based on unofficial overnight viewing figures, the 2015 Formula One season recorded the lowest average audience since the 2007 season.”

      That doesn’t matter at all, as long as we all wear Rolex’s. Right, Bernie?

      1. Sky on a paltry 638K and BBC on 3.1M both in decline. Sky get more and more expensive, with that insignificant audience, and highlights are – guess what – less involving.

        I think the spectacle itself is less of a problem than the coverage, especially when the TV director isn’t a racer by instinct and the live timing is twenty quid and they can’t even manage to get it all on one screen or link the app purchases to the website membership.

    18. Much as Palmer and Maldonado will feel their contracts are watertight, it depends entirely on what entity their contract is with. Renault of course will argue they have nothing to do with LotusF1 and may well argue they have no need to honour their contracts. We’ll see.

      1. Renault have to have bought the entity with the F1 entry, and that will be the entity Jonathan Palmer signed his money to so they could finish the season. I don’t see any simple way out for Carlos, though I don’t blame him for hoping.

        1. You’re most likely not wrong, but legally there is plenty of precedent.

          1. Carlos will be acutely aware that one of the precedents is a court seizing the racecars and having heavies ready to bundle the TP into the back of a road car! And that this same court is there at the opening weekend of 2016, and that Dr Palmer owns race circuits and race series and is no pushover. So I don’t think he’ll do a Monisha or anywhere near. He has a global brand to build, after all.

            I reckon he’ll live with the Tier3 drivers for the first year, while he tries to sort out Viry which seems to be a bit dysfunctional atm.

    19. After Lotus declared their sixth in the championship want enough, and Maldonado had six first lap retirements, I know who I’d be removing. All the money he brings for car developmentis worth little if the car doesn’t make the finish. Palmer deserves a chance, and I can see him being a safe pair of hands.

    20. If I am honest I am disappointed with the driver lineup for next year. It seems a shame to have two extra cars yet have one of them filled by Gutierrez, a proven below standard driver, and still have Ericsson, who is the same. Then we have Maldonado who I need not say anymore. And there’s Alonso and Button wasted in backmarker cars (I hope that car improves). And Hulkenberg still has a midfield car, and Massa and Bottas are still clearly letting Williams down. Kimi is fine if he performs as he did in Bahrain, Hungary, and Abu Dhabi, and Russia up until the last lap, but things like Russia, Mexico, etc. really do make me question how long he deserves a seat.

      Meanwhile there are drivers (Vergne, Magnussen, Vandoorne, and many more) who are still waiting.

      1. @strontium, and on what basis did you decide that Bottas and Massa are “clearly letting Williams down”? Why do you judge the team to be entirely blameless in that situation – which is effectively the gist of your argument – when, more often than not this season, we have seen fans complaining that poor decision making and botched strategies by the team have been letting the drivers down?

        1. I think because Williams have been making all those mistakes, their drivers seem beyond reproach for this season. But I also really suspect that Williams car might have been a more frequent podium visitor with some other drivers. There were races that I thought Vettel would finish ahead whether he was driving Ferrari or Williams. I guess we shouldn’t expect them to beat Vettel, but still I cannot keep wondering… Then I remember how close Raikkonen and Massa have been and how they still performed similarly against Alonso, and it’s like I’m not even sure Ferrari was that much faster than Williams all the time.

    21. That Alonso gig was absolutely hilarious with him dreaming through the Honda engine smoke and Ron DEnnis in the background appreciating the engine! :D

    22. Given that they don’t expect to be competitive for about 3 years, I don’t see the point in acquiring new drivers. The ones they have will get them through 2016 – until they develop their PU, even one of the top drivers is not going to make that much of a difference.

      Surely Renault are going to have a tough enough time without adding controversy (like Sauber last year) to their year. Far better to work with what they have and plan for 2017.

      1. Yeah, @dbradock, I also don’t see the point in bringing in expensive talents when you’re in a developing phase. Just look at how McLarens doing. They have a total waste of 35 milj going on whilst Renault possibly gets that money to let the two drivers have a season…?

    23. If Renault do have a driver change, I hope it’s Pastor who goes not Palmer, as he won GP2 in 2014 and deserves the chance to show us what he’s got. Although, there are around 40million good reasons for keeping Maldonado. Would love to see JEV back on the grid or they may pick up Nico Prost given his father’s connection with Renault and he is currently racing in FormulaE , or Pier Gasly who I think I the Torro Rosso and/or RedBull test/reserve driver. But I’d be quite sad to see Palmer have his, big and possibly only shot at becoming a fully fledged F1 race driver. I guess it will most likely all come down to FUNDING…….and although ‘pay drivers’ have always been around in F1, Pastor is mos definitely blocking a decent race seat. It’s not like has really improved and matured as a driver as other current pay drivers have (Perez is a great example)

      1. *sad to see Palmer lose his, big and possibly only shot…..
        My stupid fat fingers and lousy brain!!!!

        1. @thebullwhipper, I do not see why you rate Palmer so highly – you’ve dismissed figures like Ericsson in the past, for example, and yet he consistently beat Palmer when they competed against each other in GP2 (even when they were within the same team). Furthermore, Palmer’s performances in free practise sessions have been OK but nothing special, and more often than not his best laps have been slower than Maldonado’s.

          As for Nicolas Prost – you do realise that he is 34 years old now? Maybe, at most, they might want to give him a seat in free practise, but at that age he is not going to be a driver that the team can depend upon for a long term relationship.

          1. All very good points, well made, I’d just like to give him 1 season, just to see. Out of curiosity more than anything else. I have no doubt that it doesn’t help your lap times when the team say to you just before you get in the car for FP1, “don’t break it, we haven’t got many spares and we need most of them for pastor”. So I think it’s unfair to take the lap times in their context, oftent he car has had technical issues and he has missed a large amount of running, and/or he has to make sure the engine and gearbox is still ok for Romain to race with.

      2. @thebullwhipper They can’t just pick *anyone* because of the new super-license regs.

        Only Palmer, Vandoorne & (I believe) Rossi have the required points to make the step up. Rossi is also grandfathered in, having completed 5 events in the past 3 years, alongside JEV & Magnussen.

    24. I think HAAS could be the next Red Bull. they have taken the right steps for a new team entry into F1, they have made good connections with Ferrari, and have made all the right investements. I think their target of midfield in their first season is reasonable. good luck to them. their success will be unfortunantly dictated by the engine regs in the next few years, Mercedes have the monopoly, and unless the regs get changed, we are unlikely to see Mercedes the team lose its place at the top for the next 3 seasons – chassis development is not enough in this era where engines dominate.

      1. …chassis development is not enough in this era where engines dominate.

        Rubbish – we’ve seen the Red Bulls remain fairly competitive, just not race-winners (in 2015 anyway) because they have a good chassis. Heck, that’s pushing it because for the first half of the season, they were fighting several design flaws.

        I guess some people can’t accept that the Ferrari & Mercedes may also be cars with very good chassis…

    25. Regarding COTD:

      Not a lot has changed with Vettel, except one crucial thing – The finger isn’t in peoples faces every race weekend.

    26. I’m sure Maldonado will be on the grid next year.
      Renault droping him out must return the money.
      So he could easily buy the manor seat or even Ericsson seat. As now Sauber seems to be the poorest team on the grid

    27. Nobody cares about Baku? What a surprise.

      Bernie though will be disappointed, a proper dictator would have demolished all those old buildings and built new grandstands and hotels, Hitler would have done a proper job of it.

      1. I have been watching Nazi Megastructures on the Beeb. Albert Speer might do a ‘proper job’ of designing the grandstands but I would dread to see the result. I think the track and the local vista should define a venue, not the dominance of a grand pit complex and hotels.

        Another street circuit isn’t a horrible idea, but if you have to rely on globe trotting fans to fill the spectator areas; and then you have to build hotels in the cramped area to accommodate the fans, you have to wonder….’Why is F1 in Baku?’

        I think most F1 fans would be happy with a drive to a tent city and a walk to their favourite corner. But that assumes that F1 is for the fans.

    28. Petronas and Shell, the kingmakers ? Maybe, but if they are, then I believe as outside contractors their products should be available to any team that wants them and at the same price for all. Further, maybe Red Bull should be blaming Total, not just Renault for their poor performance.

    29. The F1 Broadcasting Blog piece had a good point about the interest being low for the Hamilton vs Rosberg dynamic where a Hamilton vs Vettel contest would draw in more viewers. My current perception of Hamilton is that he desires to be an A-list world celebrity with an exciting recording ambition.

      I would be happy to see Rosberg and Hamilton retire and let Max and Perez have a go in the front of the grid.

      1. @motor By that same measure, Nico is happy to be a father to the exclusion of his main career?

        What rubbish…

    30. Latest news from Venezuela might have an effect on Maldonado’s backers.

      Venezuela election: Maduro’s Socialists trounced
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-35019111

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