The Carlos conundrum, Ron’s “retirement” and how not to fill your second seat

Carlos dislikes the Maths

Prior to Sunday’s showdown in the Texan desert, Carlos Sainz Junior intimated that, should he have to in order to further his career prospects, he would depart the Red Bull family for the 2018 season. The Spanish Matador, understandably, is unwilling to maintain his current role of the Red Bull third wheel.

For team principal Christian Horner and development head Helmut Marko it is a headache that many on the grid would, you’d imagine, be enviable of. Not only do they have two number ones in their senior team, but they also have two fast drivers waiting in the wings should the need arise.

Approach the predicament from the angle of the young Spaniard, however, and the outlook is not quite as positive as it is for his employers. Undoubtedly, his own desire is to become World Champion. If it wasn’t, why would he be there? His ability is clear for all to see – performances such as those in Austin and Barcelona prove that on his day he is a very capable driver even at this relatively early point in his Formula 1 career,although it is unlikely that Toro Rosso would be able to satisfy his thirst for wins, even with a rules shake-up for 2017.

With both Ricciardo and Verstappen under contract at Red Bull until the end of the 2018 season, he may have to sever ties with the team that have nurtured him since the tender age of fifteen unless circumstances alter drastically up and down the grid.

vettel

The driver market is always in motion. This season is proof that nothing is concrete in Formula 1, and if Maurizio Arrivabene is to be believed, even four-time world champions are not immune to speculation about their seats becoming vacant.

Many believe the his comments to be a reminder to the German of his role as team leader, but they are poignant nonetheless. With the retirement of Kimi Raikkonen at the end of 2017 a real possibility, could the Scuderia be a realistic target for Sainz? I’d be interested to know where you think he could move to (if anywhere) so please do let me know.

Ron heading for retirement?

Rumours have been circulating this week that the rather one-sided power struggle at McLaren will end with the departure of Ron Dennis at the end of this season. Dennis has been a monumental figure for the team throughout his time in the sport, and his legacy is unquestionably one of huge success.

If you are reading this, you will no doubt be aware of the achievements of a man still shrouded in mystery even at this somewhat low point in his lengthy career. Dennis has managed some of the sport’s biggest names and overseen periods of dominance which have made him the sport’s most decorated team principal.

As with the drivers and teams, some fans will look on Ron more favourably than others, but it is hard to argue that he is one of the sport’s greats and he has masterminded some truly phenomenal moments, both on-track and off it.

It seems unfitting that a man of the stature of Ron Dennis could leave McLaren in its period of transition and at its current level of performance. One could argue that an old (sorry Ron), wise head is required to steer the Woking-based squad a little further up the grid before he says goodbye to the paddock.

There will no doubt be countless attempted questionings of Dennis as the season draws to a close at Yas Marina, but something tells me that each individual charged with prying the truth from his grasp will return to their bosses none the wiser. Bernie Ecclestone has this week been quoted as saying that anyone “chucking” Dennis out would be “stupid”. Who knows, maybe Bernie will share the secret to clinging on when all seems lost. I wouldn’t count on Ron being gone until he categorically says so himself…

dennis-alonso

Second seat nightmare for Renault

One can’t help but feel sorry for Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen. Yes, the world of Formula 1 is unforgiving and, as the potential “chucking” of Ron Dennis proves, it doesn’t matter who you are, you have to deliver. The car that Palmer and Magnussen have been given, however is not one to write home about. They are driving for a team undergoing radical change since the French manufacturer re-entered the sport and not only have they had to fight with a less than brilliant car, they have had to race under the very real threat of losing their seat.

If the team’s contact with Sainz and Perez had them worried, the signing of Nico Hulkenberg certainly seems to have dampened spirits and it has been clear since that the whole thing has been playing on their minds with them seeming quite disturbed by the whole fiasco lately.

Ted Kravitz described it in a similar fashion in his US Grand Prix race notebook – pointing out the fairly obvious point that quite publicly approaching other drivers will not do much to bolster the confidence of your current duo and could serve to hamper performance in the short-term.

It looks like the Dane will secure the second seat for next season, and although it is a very real prospect that Lewis Hamilton could be the only Brit on the grid next season, I am sure that many in the paddock will feel that Magnussen deserves his place in the sport after losing his race seat at the end of 2014 to Jenson Button.

Heading South

As the Formula 1 circus moves south of the border into Mexico, we are in for a very exciting three weeks. Lewis Hamilton has it all to do, and he needs to start in earnest at a track on which he was beaten by his championship-leading team-mate last year. Fingers crossed that reliability does not affect either Silver Arrows driver from here on out, and that we get to see some fantastic wheel to wheel racing until the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi.

I shall leave you with one of my favourite images – that of the amphitheatre section of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. What a place from which to spectate…

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