Category Archives: Formula One

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F1 Silly Season: Ferrari Swaps Finns?

We are now into the European portion of the 2018 Formula One season and with multiple contracts expiring this year, silly season is now in full swing. One of the key figures is Daniel Ricciardo and where he goes (or if he stays) will have a bearing on the rest of the big team line-ups. Many think he is lining up a seat at Ferrari, but let’s just think about this for a moment. Sebastian Vettel is the undisputed #1 at the Scuderia, and his contract is rumored to give him a say on his teammate, so why would he allow the man who beat him in a fair fight at Red Bull to come into “his” team? So where might the Australian turn if Red Bull can’t convince him to stay? After calling Max Verstappen the second coming, it’s a bit of a tough sell – but there again they’ve made billions selling a drink that tastes like rotting gym socks…

So the alternative is Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton isn’t scared of any teammate (“paging Fernando Alonso..”) but still hasn’t signed a contract, so maybe they will hedge their bets and pursue Ricciardo, leaving Valtteri Bottas out in the cold. Or would he be? The Finn would make a perfect replacement for a Finn – at Ferrari. Kimi Raikkonen is clearly not the better of Vettel (and Sebastian likes it that way) but he isn’t doing enough to help Ferrari win the Constructors’ Championship, where the money comes from – and with Liberty Media wanting to strip away the Bernie Ecclestone-era bonuses that becomes all the important. So why not install “Finn 2.0” at the Scuderia? He’s fast, he’s quiet, he’s relatively cheap and he’s a team player. He also doesn’t have accusations of drunken sexually impropriety being leveled at him – another compelling reason for him to be put out to pasture.

So that gives us:

Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton / Daniel Ricciardo
Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel / Valtteri Bottas
Red Bull-Honda: Max Verstappen / Pierre Gasly (?) – that’s one for next time!

– MCZF1

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Manor Racing: Ron Dennis’ F1 Revenge?

Now ousted from the team he lead to prominence is Ron Dennis planning a takeover of Manor F1 as a means of gaining revenge on McLaren?

Towards the end of the 2016 Formula One season it became clear that Manor Racing owner Stephen Fitzpatrick was trying to sell the team and had been in serious discussions with Tavo Hellmund, promoter of the United States and Mexican Grand Prix about a possible sale. However when the team lost out to Sauber for 10th place in the Championship and the associated future prize fund money, thanks to Felipe Nasr’s inspired drive in Brazil, those talks stalled.

Former Manor sporting director Graeme Lowdon had also been talking to Fitzpatrick and was hoping to use Indonesian businessman Ricardo Gelael’s money to fund a purchase, but those talks had also floundered as the season went on.

Enter Dennis

Ron Dennis portrait: Future Manor owner?
Ron Dennis

Ron Dennis’ “Project 4” merged with the original McLaren Racing in 1980 to form McLaren International and at one time he owned all the shares, but over the years divested his holding to finance first the TAG-Porsche engine program and then to partner with Daimler AG for Mercedes engines.

In his efforts to buy out his former partners at McLaren, Ron Dennis put together a consortium of Chinese investors to purchase the 75% of shares he did not own. His UKP1.65bn ($2.04bn) bid was turned down. Add to that the 25% holding that Dennis could sell if he moved on to a new team.

With that kind of capital at his disposal the purchase of Manor Racing would be comparative peanuts. The team has a new factory in Banbury and a contract with his old friends at Mercedes for engines. That would leave plenty of cash left over to invest in new equipment and staff. Speaking of which…

The current Manor Racing Director Dave Ryan spent a large part of his career working for Dennis at McLaren before departing in 2009 and recently released McLaren Chief Executive  Jost Capito, hand picked by Dennis, is now free to join another team.

The pieces fit together well, so let’s see if Ron is going to be taking a drive up the M40 from Woking to Banbury before pre-season testing starts this year.
– MCZF1

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MCZ Motorsports 250 F1 Season Preview

The MCZ Motorsports 250 2016 Formula One Season Preview podcast is now available for your listening pleasure! You can find it here.

Our predictions:

F1 2016 Predictions

1st Mercedes far ahead in testing mileage. Fast and didn’t even use the Ultrasoft tyre. Definitely sandbagging. They rebuilt Rosberg’s psyche at the end of last season but Hamilton is now refocused and the man to beat.
Hamilton over Rosberg.

2nd Ferrari set fast times but put in only average mileage and had some reliability questions. The change in front suspension design should help Raikonnen but he will always be second fiddle to Vettel in probably his last F1 season. Close but no cigar.
Vettel over Raikkonen.

3rd Williams put in average mileage and only went for times once in testing. This is definitely Felipe Massa’s last year in F1 and he is hoping for a good one but the lower steps on the podium are all he and Bottas can hope for, unless something goes wrong up ahead.
Bottas over Massa.

4th Toro Rosso. Now we come to the surprises. They put in great testing mileage and showed good speed. They will most definitely beat Red Bull Racing this year and could be a threat to the likes of Williams, lurking when Mercedes and Williams faulter.
Verstappen over Sainz.

5th Red Bull is a now a team hamstrung by their own ego. They won’t be bad but nothing spectacular is in store. Ricciardo will beat Kvyat but neither will be a threat for podiums let alone wins.
Ricciardo over Kvyat.

6th McLaren have improved but that wasn’t exactly hard after the 2015 fiasco! Alonso can wring ever last drop from the car, while Button is the consummate analytical racer. They won’t be the laughing stock in 2016 but they won’t be winning either.
Alonso over Button.

7th Force India are better prepared than last year but a financial cloud hangs over the future of the team thanks to Vijay Mallya’s antics which will only weigh heavier as the season progresses.
Perez over Hulkenberg.

8th Haas: New team problems are expected but this is a very different kind of debut. They could be the first new team since Toyota in 2002 to score points on their debut but more likely they will need to wait longer into the season, but it will come.
Grosjean over Gutierrez.

9th Renault admit that this will be a transition year and are setting the bar low. With a very late start in design the car is simply a re-engined revamp of the 2015 Lotus but at least they had the sense to kick Crashtor Maldonado to the curb.
Magnussen over Palmer.

10th Sauber will as always be good out the gate, and the first 3 races will probably be their best chances of scoring points. Their financial woes mean they will have precious little development of the car and the departure of Technical Director Mark Smith is a major blow.
Nasr over Ericsson.

11th Manor has gone through a huge shake up and it will take some time for things to settle. The addition of Mercedes power units is a huge plus but the teams’ lack of resources mean little in the way of development.
Wehrlein over Haryanto.

Another set of titles for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes – #4 for #44.
Now let’s go racing!

– MCZF1

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