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!