In the round-up: Pascal Wehrlein is set to join Sauber for 2017 after Mercedes declined to promote him in Nico Rosnerg’s place.
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Sauber agrees Wehrlein deal for 2017 (Autosport)
"It is understood Mercedes felt Wehrlein's lack of experience after just one F1 season with Manor made it too risky to promote him into its lead team alongside Lewis Hamilton at present."
Ferrari tipped for new livery, new engine tech in F1 2017 (Motorsport)
"Perhaps the most radical innovation concerns the combustion chamber, with Ferrari considering the use of a new multi-jet ignition system that will move the team to the next level in its relationship with the Mahle technology company."
Alesi to Massa: Don't come back! (F1i)
"Felipe has stopped, he’s turned a page. And what if he discovers that the Williams isn’t quick?"
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Comment of the day
An interesting analysis of the problems F1 has had with its current engine formula:
The problem here is not the engines themselves but the way they were introduced. As always, FOM and the FIA managed to completely miss the big picture and take the rosiest magic-bullet solution that will fix everything.
I have no problem with the V6 turbo hybrids nor the engine token system of development. I have a problem with the way they were implemented: immediately.
Engines: Things became very complicated (and very expensive) very quickly. We went from V8s with KERS one year to V6 turbo hybrids the next. Mercedes got it right, and everyone else had poor also-rans. I think it might have been better to either slowly phase in the various elements over the course of a number of years or open and rewrite the rules in such a way as to guide the development over a similar period.
Tokens: “We’re going to introduce a very complicated power unit then completely limit the development to effectively lock things in. What could possibly go wrong?” Well, as we saw, Mercedes went wrong (or right, depending on how you look at it). One team dominated out of the gate and was effectively locked into that dominance thanks to the development restrictions, while the others had limited ways they could catch up. Any time an FIA or FOM official complains about Mercedes’ dominance hurting the sport they need to look in the mirror because they did this to themselves.
A better system would have been two years open development to let the engine manufacturers room to keep competitive before introducing limits to slowly lock things down. I get that development was limited to keep costs down, but it completely backfired (and limited development was never going to be a financial magic bullet anyway).
As we saw with knockout qualifying, the FIA and FOM have a blind spot to the big picture, and that is part of what ails the sport right now.
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80 comments on “Wehrlein to get Sauber seat after Mercedes snub”
3rd January 2017, 0:08
Sauber are hardly in better shape than Manor, and next year they’ll have a stagnant engine. Maybe Manor need more money than an engine discount now? I would have put Wehrlein in for a year and see how things open up at the end of 2017…
3rd January 2017, 0:09
In the Merc for 2017
4th January 2017, 8:33
Or you can read into it that merc think manor won’t be around for all of 2017 and see sauber as a more stable bet historically.
3rd January 2017, 0:17
I’d have liked to see him at Mercedes, is sauber even a better bet than manor for next season? mclaren are chucking vandoorne in after just one f1 race, red bull gave verstappen a seat after just over a season, Mercedes should have been braver and put faith in their junior driver
3rd January 2017, 0:45
I think there’s more to it than that. We only get snippets and hearsay but there are still murmurings going around about his attitude.
Stubborn Swiss (@stubbornswiss)
3rd January 2017, 3:24
Plus the driver rumored to be going to MB is/was managed by Toto Wolff, remember.
4th January 2017, 5:52
Spot on mate
3rd January 2017, 19:48
Merc were worried he’d get in Ham’s way, nobody expects him to beat Lewis but he can still get in the way. That and I don’t think Lewis likes him. At this point it makes sense that Sauber wants to grab the lifeline. I’m happy with this deal.
Stephen Crowsen (@drycrust)
3rd January 2017, 23:21
If he’s good enough to get in Hamilton’s way, then surely he’s good enough for the seat!
I thought the protocol was the seat went Sergio Perez first, because he had the most points of a car using a Mercedes Power Unit (Mercedes team itself aside), then Valtteri Bottas because he had the second most points. If for whatever reason those drivers weren’t available to be promoted, then Pascal Wehrlein should have been offered the seat.
What is the point in Mercedes (the company) have a say in who is selected to drive for a customer team if they aren’t prepared to promote the best of those drivers to the premier team?
3rd January 2017, 5:22
Probably because Wehrlein was nowhere as impressive at the likes of Verstappen and Vandoorne.
3rd January 2017, 14:40
Over the past decade only Bianchi truly and consistently impressed with a minor team. Otherwise, the very top talents do seem to find a way into a better team without having to court the HRTs, Virgin/Marussia/Manors or Caterhams of the grid (which is where Sauber currently finds itself too).
3rd January 2017, 17:30
You forget Riccardio got his start in the HRT
3rd January 2017, 17:52
Henrik, so presumably you must think that Ricciardo is not one of the top talents in the sport either (Red Bull placed Ricciardo at HRT back in 2011, much in the same way that Wehrlein was placed at Manor by Mercedes)?
4th January 2017, 0:18
You say it yourself – “Red Bull placed Ricciardo at HRT back in 2011” – Ricciardo (same as Bianchi, Wehrlein) didn’t have to court a team like the Ericssons, Haryantos, van der Gardes or Chiltons have had to.
3rd January 2017, 18:01
I thought Ricciardo did a good job for his half season at HRT, apart from that it’s hard to argue though.
3rd January 2017, 19:35
The Mercedes young driver programme is about as useless as the Ferrari young driver programme. Since it’s inception, zero drivers have joined the main team.
3rd January 2017, 22:07
@paeschli, hasn’t the Mercedes young driver program effectively only been running for a few years though (at least with regards to promoting drivers into seats in F1)? Up until fairly recently, Mercedes had mostly directed their drivers though McLaren’s young driver scheme as part of their partnership with them, and only after they split with McLaren have they taken that role in house.
Equally, up until this year, Mercedes had no need to replace either driver in their team (unless you think that they should have either fired Rosberg or Hamilton from the team) – it’s still fairly early days for Mercedes, so the fact that it has not yet brought a driver into the parent team yet is not really that surprising.
People draw a comparison with Red Bull, but don’t forget that Red Bull effectively started their young driver program back in 1999 (with Helmut Marko’s Formula 3000 team, later restructured in 2001 into the Junior Team we know today), and their first driver to enter F1 was Christian Klien, five years down the line in 2004 (though there is perhaps an argument that Bernoldi was the first).
Whilst Klien and Liuzzi were given a few races each in 2005 for the parent team – before Liuzzi was then dumped into Toro Rosso and Klein kicked out in 2006 – it wasn’t really until 2009 that Red Bull had a successful graduate from their junior team work their way up into the senior team (Vettel), three years after his debut in F1 in 2006 and a decade from the effective inception of Red Bull’s Junior Team.
They are now bringing more drivers into the parent team, but it took them quite a few years and a lot of false starts before they finally managed to do so on a more effective basis. When you consider that they’ve been going for nearly two decades now and have a major head start on most teams in that area, it’s not surprising that they’ve been able to polish their scheme whilst others are still playing catch up.
3rd January 2017, 0:34
Wehrlein to Sauber actually seems like a step backwards.
Over a whole season Manor was actually more progressive than Sauber and Manor already started developing their car for 2017 even before the opening round in 2016. Not to mention Sauber are even going more backwards because of having an old engine. We’ve seen how Toro Rosso suffered and they’ve got a decent chassis.
My guess is the new owners are trying to switch from Ferrari to Mercedes power and are taking Wehrein as some sort of an early discount coupon.
Take Pascal in 2017, discount engines in 2018.
3rd January 2017, 14:46
That is a good guess, Ruben! Even if a 2016 engine in 2017 likely is less of a handicap than a 2015 engine was this year, Ferrari’s power unit seems half a second shy of Merc – at least in qualifying trim. With Sauber prioritising chassis (logically as in 2016 they were 2½ – 3 sec off Ferrari with the same engine and drivers not accounting for more than ½ a second, i.e. the Sauber chassis is ~2 sec slower than the Ferrari), they probably want to cover their bases in case Merc’s engine advantage remains in 2017.
3rd January 2017, 22:12
Ferrari recon they will have 1000bhp this year, a big improvement over 2016.
4th January 2017, 0:22
It’s not all about all-out power but how the engine delivers it over the rpm, the drive-ability. That said, if they do get those 1,000 BHP with a smooth delivery curve… :-)
3rd January 2017, 0:45
I’d bet that when Wehrlein first got wind of Rosberg’s departure, he was thanking his lucky stars that he missed out on the Force India ride. Now he’s probably wondering what the heck is going on.
3rd January 2017, 0:47
Good move for Wehrlein considering Manor’s chances of even being on the grid are less than 50/50.
At least he has a seat to prove himself against a teammate who’d deeply embedded in the team and has shown a few moments of talent. I’ll never forget when Ericsson asked the team to disable their crap brake-by-wire system because of the lost “feel”. He immediately made up more time in the corners than he lost in power regeneration and was quicker than his teammate.
Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
3rd January 2017, 11:34
I can imagine that discovery might not have done the engineer’s confidence any favours, but it happens once in a while. Can Pascal fill that gap, which a team like Sauber sorely needs to fill?
5th January 2017, 7:15
I hadn’t heard about that. Really curious when/where that happened.
Uzair Syed (@ultimateuzair)
3rd January 2017, 1:02
I hope that Ferrari have a new livery for this year. The 2016 livery was disgusting.
3rd January 2017, 4:17
I actually really liked it 😯
3rd January 2017, 19:39
My guess is that it’s going to be red.
3rd January 2017, 1:34
I remember commenting on James Allen’s website at the time they announced this token system. Everyone was convinced it would work, but it seemed blatantly obvious to me that if one team got off to a better start, the restrictions would create a game of trailing behind, rather than allowing teams to go and push development to win. It baffles me why the FIA, and the other teams, didn’t see this at the time. The worst thing about it wasn’t restricting development, it was the end result of banning it completely. It doesn’t take a genius to work out if you impose a rule banning development, when there’s a chance one engine will still be better, that engine will remain better forever.
Regarding Ferrari, out of interest, when was the last time their design wasn’t radical? They haven’t won a world championship recently, and all of their designs have been radical. It’s just more of the same from them. And that white livery thing is laughable – intrudocing a livery to remind of success of the past, then scrapping it because they’re only being reminded of the failures. Sums up the team at the moment to be honest.
The white livery was a nice idea in my opinion, just horribly executed. They had blotches of white and black all over the place, and these lines everywhere which just looked out of place on what was supposedly an otherwise modern design. I have a bit of experience in design (not a lot but enough to say this), and one of the must fundamental things you learn quickly is that, unless there’s something specific that you are aiming to achieve, simplicity and elegance are the most important thing. Nobody wants to look at a cluttered mess that reminds them of their bedroom.
Hemz Shaw (@hemzshaw)
3rd January 2017, 6:24
Everyone one was confident they were doing or will be doing well. Or their egos hurt accepting a possibility. Whatever that is, the tokens system should be gone for good. Period.
I imagine a Ferrari in white, with a few stripes of red and will be, at least for me, drool worthy. :D
Imagine a red instead of the blue on Surtees.. (http://www.swapmeetmodels.co.uk/images/20091005150441-r291-ferrari-surtees-7.jpg)
3rd January 2017, 10:32
Red instead of blue on the NART Ferrari is dangerously close to this though imo…https://www.flickr.com/photos/maranellominiatures/4448423416/
Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
3rd January 2017, 11:36
The other problem is that the teams thought that without the token system, whoever spent the most money would get an unassailable advantage – and the financial lack-of-knowledge was such that every engine manufacturer was sure that the team who was going to spend the most money wasn’t them. The trouble is that nobody in F1 has ever been much good at devising a compulsory system that doesn’t simply give victory to whoever spends the most. So when this new token idea was suggested, everyone jumped on it like they would a life raft…
3rd January 2017, 1:45
Sidestep move for Wherlein in my view. Was that a move directed by Merc? Because Pascal would have taken the intangible advantage of already knowing his engineers for next season.
I don’t follow the logic here, and I am obviously missing something behind the scenes.
3rd January 2017, 4:20
I was thinking about that too, because he is clearly a great talent… The teams should be happy to sign him, so he really must be hard to work with
3rd January 2017, 5:35
Whenever talks about Wherlein come up they are always followed up with a mention of his difficult attitude. Although what that means exactly is still mostly unknown. The only ‘reason’ for attitude I ever saw is his reluctance to turn off the engine at one race at the orders of the engineer. Is that it? That’s enough reason not get a good talent into a team (FI or Mercedes)? I don’t buy for a second that he doesn’t have enough experience after a solid year in F1. The dude scored a point with a Manor! Surely there must be more to this?!
3rd January 2017, 5:48
Also a rumor another team he tested for wanted details about the Merc PU, his response was basically to #%@%^ off and thus that team has started this gossip.
Merc however appreciates his loyalty – these rumors of attitude are supposedly non-existent within his management team (Merc).
3rd January 2017, 22:24
The Duke, which team is that supposed to have been?
He’s been a test driver for Mercedes and Force India and driven for Manor – now, he obviously won’t have been asked to spy on Mercedes and, as customers of Mercedes, Force India and Manor would surely know all they need to know about the power unit and therefore have no need to ask Wehrlein for details.
Unless I have missed something, the only other non-Mercedes powered team that Wehrlein has been linked to is Sauber, but I believe that the claims of Wehrlein being a difficult driver would pre-date the start of his negotiations with them and therefore the timing would not work for Sauber being the source of those claims.
It’s not to say that I am completely dismissing the possibility that they are malicious rumours started by another team, but at the moment the sequence of events doesn’t seem to match up.
3rd January 2017, 7:48
@zimkazimka It wasn’t his attitude this year, rather his actions and demeanour when testing for various teams in the few years previously. My guess is the fact that people were already tipping him for a Mercedes seat from 2014 and the times he put in relative to others when driving the W05 in testing may have gone to his head.
Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
3rd January 2017, 11:44
Given some of the drivers Manor’s had in the past, it may well have developed higher expectations regarding attitude than other teams on the grid. Mercedes also tolerates some actions other teams (most vocally McLaren) would not accept from its drivers. Force India has tested both Wehrlien and Ocon, and has commented on Ocon’s particularly good attitude – which, in a shootout between those two talented young racers (as it appeared to become), could have been a deciding factor. This could very well explain the pattern – Pascal could have acquired the reputation for relatively minor things that some teams on the grid (aside from Mercedes, think Ferrari and Williams) would find acceptable (or even normal) had he been driving for them rather than hearing from another team second- or third-hand.
Or it could be as The Duke says. Sorting out rumour and counter-rumour hasn’t been easy in F1 for some time.
3rd January 2017, 6:28
Since the sale of Manor (to bring in new investors who can field the bills) is still not concluded, and they are to lose about a 3rd of their funding because of not keeping that 10th place, that team is bound to be in trouble. It will have hampered their development of the initial car and it will most likely mean they won’t be bringing much in the way of updates for the first few races either.
Sauber now has new owners since mid 2016, they know exactly what the engine will look like, and might profit from having a stable engine when others will be “working on reliability first” at the start of the year.
I have also heard that the relations between Manor and Mercedes have cooled quite a bit in the whole process last year, so that could also be part of why not keeping Wehrlein at Manor.
All in all, apart from Mercedes judging that they need a more experienced driver, and do not want to throw a somewhat light on experience but high on ambition driver into the car next to Hamilton (that would probably make for some fireworks inside the team!) is what is important here. Remember, it is not as if Wehrlein HAD a Manor seat for 2016, he would have to “compete” with the bags of money others are bringing, so it might just have been that Sauber was “better value for money” to them.
4th January 2017, 0:13
Hemz Shaw (@hemzshaw)
3rd January 2017, 6:30
Manor is in the process of selling itself to a new set of investors – and I think Mercedes wants to ensure that they do not loose a seat for Wehrlein, and allow him to race and develop further. Imagine a Caterham like shunt for Manor – I hope not – causes Wehrlein missing out an entire year without racing in F1?
At the same time Merc knows and have heard his attitude has not been up to Manor’s liking. If Manor does not like it, Merc would not do so too. Well, there is not much of that in media, so we can only be spectators and make a guess.
Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
3rd January 2017, 11:38
The fact that Manor is looking for buyers and therefore not entirely stable may be a factor in Mercedes approving a driver move. Sauber may be no wealthier but it does have a stable owner.
3rd January 2017, 2:31
Surprised Ferrari will let Mercedes place their driver in what is essentially one of the Scuderia’s feeder teams
3rd January 2017, 2:55
Yeah, it’s a bit strange. He’ll be able to report back all sorts of interesting engine data.
3rd January 2017, 7:50
@selbbin not really, as Sauber are running a 2016 unit.
3rd January 2017, 5:59
who is Nico Rosnerg
Hemz Shaw (@hemzshaw)
3rd January 2017, 6:48
We all know about Nico Rosberg, he is the current F1 Champion.
3rd January 2017, 9:38
@hemzshaw Yeah, but it isn’t him.
Hemz Shaw (@hemzshaw)
3rd January 2017, 10:14
Oh yeah, I think I missed adding that “I dont know who Nico Rosnerg is?” @mashiat
Hemz Shaw (@hemzshaw)
3rd January 2017, 10:15
Or probably missed adding “We only know about Nico Rosberg, he is the current F1 Champion.”
3rd January 2017, 12:39
@hemzshaw yes we know that, but who’s Nico Rosnerg?
3rd January 2017, 8:13
You don’t know him? Christ Jesus, have you been living in a cave? Nico Rosnerg! He’s a big name! Like, his name is literally etched in the landscape of the Rhine.
I actually have no idea who he is. Probably an oil magnate.
Godwin Joseph (@godwin)
3rd January 2017, 6:11
I Predicted it 1st, Check out My Tweet on 31/12/2016
3rd January 2017, 6:40
No, you did not.
3rd January 2017, 9:39
@godwin You were at least 2-3 months late.
Godwin Joseph (@godwin)
3rd January 2017, 6:12
I Predicted it 1st, Check out My Tweet on 31/12/2016
3rd January 2017, 6:32
Oh, my. When I think back about hearing of “unusual” or “extreme” shapes coming out of their windtunnels, it immediately brings back the horror of seeing the first pictures of the stepped nose cars.
3rd January 2017, 9:26
I agree. Unusual or extreme doesn’t usually work.
3rd January 2017, 8:25
I can understand why Williams want an experienced driver to pair up with the unknown quantity Stroll, and of course I respect Massa, but might have made sense for Mercedes to place Wehrlein into a Williams seat.
Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
3rd January 2017, 9:47
Because of Williams Sponsors, they require one of their drivers being over 25. And we don’t actually have much evidence of how good Wherlein is. Whereas Williams have obviously been happy enough with Massa for the past few years as they were the ones asking for him to return. There is obviously something that Force India and Mercedes don’t like about Wherlein as he will have been an easier choice to go for and I actually think it is something to do with his attitude and the fact he is often a little difficult to work with from what I’ve read elsewhere.
Even though I can only think of one example, it was very bad the fact that Wherlein once ignored a critical instruction. When he spun his car into the gravel in practice one time, his team said it was critical to turn his engine off. Wherlein just kept making excuses and tried to get going even after getting told many more times to turn it off. It was almost a minute later before he did what he was told. That won’t give a good impression of him to other teams even if it was just on one occasion as following orders is a very impotent part of being in a big team.
3rd January 2017, 10:06
Yeah, I can understand the sponsorship requirement, good point. I also can understand that wasting car parts and this way financial resources to restore the damage is not a good point, neither in a top team, nor at the back of the grid, neither for an experienced driver, nor for a rookie, if it could have been prevented if the driver respects the instructions from the pit wall. The question is, that a single bad judgement call shall be considered as an attitude, or did this happen really only once?
3rd January 2017, 9:01
I don’t understand that deal at all. What’s in it for anyone?
Sauber is rumored to get Honda engines next year, and Mercedes probably wouldn’t even be able to deliver to a fifth team anyway next year, so there are no relations that would need to be strengthened. From a stature viewpoint Sauber might be a slightly bigger team than Manor, but Wehrlein was already feeling good with Manor and they will have a current Mercedes engine compared to Sauber’s year old Ferrari engine, so they might just have the slowest car on the grid. He won’t even have simulator time as the team still doesn’t have one as far as I know.
I’m afraid it could be a step back for him, even from the back of last year’s grid…
3rd January 2017, 9:55
I can imagine a certain scenario: as Manor has finished outside the top10, receives a significantly smaller amount of prize money from the pool, and needs pay drivers to make up for that loss. The only way Manor could see money from Wehrlein if Mercedes reduces the price of its engines which they surely won’t do, as they have to do it for Williams to be able to sign Bottas. Manor might be looking for the likes of Gutierrez. Sauber with P10 and with Ericssons money on board can afford however to sign a talent, and even if it looks a step back for Wehrlein, at least he could remain on the grid, and doesn’t have build himself up again after a year of “testing” as many other drivers had to and failed to. So it seems to me damage limitation, as Mercedes might not be sure just after one season if Wehrlein is a hot prospect for their seat in a few years time, but wouldn’t want to waste a chance and ruin his career if he proves to be one.
Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
3rd January 2017, 11:53
Manor doesn’t lose any prize money yet. This is because the rule is that to get the prize money, a team must finish in the top 10 for 2 out of the 3 previous seasons. Manor still meets those criteria as it was 10th of 11 in 2014 and 10th of 10 in 2015… …but will lose the £40 m next year if it repeats the “not in top 10” finishing position in 2017 (admittedly an event with a reasonable chance of occurring, given Sauber’s increased stability).
3rd January 2017, 11:52
From Wehrlein’s move to Sauber, I think it more likely that Sauber will run Mercedes engines in 2018 (they have quite a long history with Mercedes) and Manor run the Honda unit (they have had a collaborative relationship with McLaren in the past too).
3rd January 2017, 12:09
FWIW. What I don’t get is this: If Bottas goes to Mercedes, then why wouldn’t Williams take Wehrlein as second driver? Instead they will probably resign Massa for one more year. Massa has no future but Wehrlein might have one. Would be a great opportunity to have him. Nothing against Massa, but it just doesn’t make sense to me.
3rd January 2017, 12:13
Well @thegianthogweed cleared this issue up for me. Should have read rather everything before I post..
3rd January 2017, 12:18
I am disappointed in Massa and in Williams. It clearly shows he was forced out to make way for Stroll, who arguably isn’t ready anyway. But equally Felipe cannot deny that it wasn’t the perfect time to retire: he was leaving the sport with his head held high and his performances were clearly on the slide, something that will likely be accelerated with the advent of a new formula to acclimatise to.
I also dispute the suggestion that Wehrlein would not have been a better choice. Yes, continuity is important, but nothing can substitute for raw speed. Yes Stroll needs tutelage, but equally Stroll needs a fast and commendable reference, and I don’t think Massa is up to the job any longer. I equally have no doubt that Wehrlein would have scored more points. I don’t see why Williams cannot see past the stigma of running two young chargers: it worked well at Manor in the later part of this season and it worked really well at Toro Rosso in 2015.
Williams perhaps have a cultural tendency towards looking at a driver signing from too many angles rather than simply focusing on driving ability; as arguably Force India do. Signing Nakajima made sense in terms of aligning Williams with Toyota, but was a disaster on track compounded by Toyota’s exit from the sport, and similarly the appeal of Maldonado’s PDVSA millions was rather undermined by a maelstrom of carbon fibre splinters. I hope Williams are not making a similar mistake with Massa and Stroll.
3rd January 2017, 14:16
3rd January 2017, 14:23
You may be right, but I look at it a bit differently. If FM was ‘forced out’ then perhaps he wasn’t ready and is happy to come back. After all, nobody is forcing him to do so. And his departure must not have been something that FM felt was unfair treatment in terms of some sort of forcing out, or else he would perhaps have declined the offer to return.
Some have been saying Williams can’t have two young rookies due to the alcohol branding. Not sure if that is written in stone. I think FM is up to the job, and while not spectacular last season, I’m willing to give him the same chance as all the drivers to see what they can do on real tires. The previous format has been so limiting especially the tires and their finicky temp windows that perhaps FM is stoked to try these new cars that presumably will be able to be thrown around much more without it all being about the state of the tires.
As to Williams and their driver culture, recently anon and I had a few posts together regarding the topic that overwhelmingly throughout the history of F1 the WDC had the WCC winning car and he threw out a quote from Frank Williams that the driver is about 15% of the equation and the car the other 85%, so if that still holds true as a team philosophy then for sure FM’s age and experience and the continuity would make this an easy decision for the team as long as FM was game.
No matter if he is only let’s say 90% of the driver he was at his best, he’ll still be a great asset to Stroll and the team this year. Imho of course.
3rd January 2017, 18:08
@robbie, sorry, the wording in that previous post may have been a little unclear and led you to conflate two different bits. The quote from Frank Williams was the one where he compared drivers to being like a lightbulb (“you just take one out and put another one in”) when he wanted to make the point about how they were relatively insignificant when compared to the importance of the team. The other figure (about the relative importance of the car being much higher than that of the driver) came from a different study.
However, I do agree that, whilst Massa was struggling a bit more in 2016 compared to previous years, part of that probably did come from a sense of dissatisfaction with the team arising from the fact that he was being rather unsubtly pushed out to make way for Stroll (although it was at least smoother than how Sauber handled easing Kobayashi out of the team), and he did indicate that he felt that he had unfinished business in F1. Massa’s performances do seem to fluctuate more markedly than others when he is emotionally dissatisfied, and I do think that played some part in his downturn in 2016 – if he is more mentally settled, I agree that there would be room for him to improve his performances.
3rd January 2017, 18:45
@anon Fair comment. I may have forgotten the fine details of your previous post but the sentiment is there, that being that even the best drivers can be handcuffed by the car, and certainly the tires they’ve just rid themselves of haven’t helped a driver shine, although I suppose one could argue it’s still apples to apples to compare one driver from another on said bad tires. But they just seemed such a headache and a frustration for the drivers, especially the drivers whose car wasn’t top notch to begin with which perhaps added to their grief getting the tires to work optimally on a car that’s not optimal.
As to FM, I hadn’t really registered that he felt he had unfinished business when he left, so more than before I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s looking at this return as a great chance to end up on a higher note before his true final exit. And I just can’t help but feel (or is it just hope) that all the drivers should be buoyed by these new cars.
3rd January 2017, 20:50
It’s not like Bottas was so much faster than Felipe, he was just consistent enough this year to keep the gap between them at most of the races. So Stroll have a good benchmark with Felipe, if Bottas prove to be an above average driver this will rate Massa higher, if Stroll beats Massa he will be rated, at least, as good as Bottas.
And I like to think that new rules can suits driving styles better or worse. Massa was a lot faster when the cars looked like what next year cars will be.
3rd January 2017, 13:21
I think Wehrlein should have stayed at Manor not only because Mercedes is their PU supplier, but also because Sauber will use a PU, which won’t be developed at all during the season, but primarily I don’t understand this outcome because of the PU supplier thing (Manor being a customer team of his backer, and Sauber being a customer team of a rival manufacturer).
3rd January 2017, 14:17
I rather feel sorry for Wehrlein. I mean he comes into F1 with little experience of the machinery and scores a point for a team that is largely rooted to the back of the grid. He spends most of his testing days driving the front-running Mercedes and the midfield Force India and everyone seems certain he’s ‘the next best thing’.
But, he loses the Force India seat to his own team-mate – a team-mate that drove both that car and their own significantly less than he did. A spot then opens up at Mercedes and given his connections, their touting of him and the fact he’s highly familiar with the car it seemed a perfect fit, right? Except it looks like he’s lost that too.
The whole he’s not experienced thing doesn’t really hold water given Red Bull threw Verstappen into the car when people thought he wasn’t ready and he won a race. McLaren also seem happy to throw Vandoorne in, and Williams seem to be following the same idea with Stroll. Perhaps Mercedes are being ultra-conservative with their choice, but it’s weird nonetheless.
Moreso, I can’t imagine what that has done to Wehrlein’s head. Achieving the best he could have but still lost a better drive to a guy that came in halfway through, and then turned down for the job he arguably was being groomed for. Sauber, seems more of a side-step than a step up, so it’ll be interesting to see how he’ll get on.
3rd January 2017, 14:26
3rd January 2017, 14:31
Which makes one wonder what of the many possible things they are looking at with him, has been the reason he will be at Sauber and not Force India, Mercedes, or Williams. Perhaps it is a simple as there’s nothing wrong with him other than they feel he needs another year’s experience, or perhaps it is more dire for him for reasons only insiders know. At least he has a ride and that’s better than not having one if you’re him.
3rd January 2017, 15:03
So Felipe Nasr is out of a drive. No doubt he’ll go to IndyCar and make a name for himself like compatriots Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan have done. He’s much too good to vie for one of the seats at Manor, especially since it’s not certain they will be on the grid in little over two month’s time and as he’s lost the Banco do Brazil sponsorship. So who will fight it out for the two remaining seats? Kamui Kobayashi? Guido v d Garde? Gasly? Giovinazzi? Sirotkin? Leclerc?
3rd January 2017, 16:45
COTD is wrong. It did not come abruptly; teams knew about it years in advance, then asked for another year… It was nothing that was a surprise at all.
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