IF IS F1 SPELT BACKWARDS! (YES, MURRAY…)
MAX AND JAKE’ S SIDEWAYS GLANCE AT THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE 2017 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS MOTORSPORT
LEWIS HAMILTON: Britain’s most universally loved sportsman can put his put his foot on the throttle again, after trying to rob James May of his title “Captain Slow” in Abu Dhabi. Can he regain his title now that Roscoe has retired?
VALTTERI BOTTAS: How will he compare being thrust into the limelight against the slowest driver on earth? Will the dynamic between these two make the wolffe howl like it did with Lewis and Roscoe?
RED BULL RACING
DANIEL RICCIARDO: The man in the team with the Colgate “gleam” could, just could, fulfil his dream this year and win the world title. Well, there is a fly in the ointment, in the name of Max Verstappen, the precocious 12 – year – old Dutch nipper. Jug, straight glass, or shoe, Daniel?
MAX “VROOM” VERSTAPPEN: If you think this lad’s fast now, just wait until he reaches his teens! Some older drivers, such as Massa, have been known to scream “Get this kid out of here!”. But Massa has retired now, right? “The best thing to happen to F1 since sliced bread”, as Stirling Moss once said about Lewis Hamilton.
SEBASTIAN VETTEL: “What is he doing, the fool, he hit me not once, but twice”…Seb describing the assault by Daniil Kvyat ‘s Red Bull in Russia? No, it’s his reaction to Maurizio Arrivabene’s reaction to the German quadruple world champ for letting his emotions get the better of him to not only let it affect his on-track form, but force the Ferrari team to buy a swear box so large that there was no longer room for the cars. Needs to remember just how good a driver he is this year to get on top of it all, emotionally at least. Ferrari just MAY have the car to let him rise to the top again, but then we thought that this time last year…
I didn’t think it possible for “The Ice Man” to appear any less frozen when interviewed, but last year it happened. In fact, I don’t even know why anyone bothers to interview him these days. “Go away, I’m not interested” looks to be his attitude to just about everything these days. How I would love an interviewer to say to him “You are being paid a bloody fortune to never win while in the car, and be as miserable as sin out of it, , so answer my ******* questions you stroppy git!!!” File that under “unlikely event”.
WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING
FELIPE MASSA: But didn’t I just see him retire? He’s back! His front! In fact, all of him that we never thought we’d see again will be on the grid in Melbourne, making this the shortest retirement in F1 since “Our Nige” threw his red Ferrari gloves into the Silverstone crowd in 1990, only to re-appear with – funnily enough – Williams the following year. Who will believe him next time he says he’s finished with F1? Fake News?
LANCE “OUT FOR A” STROLL: It may well be true that Willy had to find a driver with a rich Dad so as to pay for all the money spent on Felipe Massa’s retirement party, but hang on one moment – this driver proved to be the dominant force in Euro F3 last year, so this is no “pay – driver” scandal, any more than Max Verstappen only got into F1 because of his father being an ex-F1 driver. If Willy can give him a good enough car, expect Lance to become the most exciting thing since “pulled pork”.
FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM
SERGIO PEREZ: Perhaps the first person to prove that McLaren were falling from grace, considering his year with the team proved to be his worst in F1. “Speedy Gonzalez”, as he is affectionately known by nobody except this writer, now has as many GP podiums as his great predecessor, Pedro Rodriguez – seven. Mind you, times have changed a bit since Pedro’s days, and two of Rodriguez’s podiums were wins. But the true measure of Checo’s performances is just how well he performed against The Incredible Hulkenberg.
ESTEBAN OCON: Esteban Gutierrez sneaks back into F1 via a false surname. “Oh con them into thinking you are somebody else”, somebody said…and the new name was born! I have a sneaking suspicion that he will perform better this year…
SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO
CARLOS “BEANS MEANS” SAINZ: The fastest Spaniard in F1 last year (sorry Fernando, blame Honda…oh, you did!) finds himself paired with Red Bull demotee Kvyat again this year (much to the shock of Pierre Gasly) and has clearly proved he has the talent to oust one of the “Old Wild Men” in a top team, but question is, which one? There is a bit of a log jam up there at the moment. Yet another person I would have rather seen at Ferrari this year than “Curt Kimi”.
DANIIL KVYAT: Sebastian Vettel’s favourite driver will hope to have the continuity of a full season in the same team this year (Well, other than him being promoted to a top team mid-season, but I think the chances of that are just about the same as the England Football team winning the next World Cup). Go Danny Boy, prove them all wrong! (Just be careful not to hit the back of a red car on the first bend, I don’t think our bruised ears can take any more…)
MCLAREN HONDA FORMULA ONE TEAM
FERNANDO ALONSO: Let’s hope McLaren give the second fastest Spaniard in F1 (blame Honda…haven’t I said that once before?) an F1 car this year rather than a GP2 (whoops, Formula Two now) car. If rumours are true that he may head back to Renault if Merc don’t come knocking on the door towards the end of the year, that would make an incredible sequence: Renault, McLaren, Renault, Ferrari, McLaren, Renault…enough to make one’s head spin even without few glasses of “Johnny Walker”.
STOFFEL VANDORNE: “Stop all that porn” makes his full-time F1 debut this season, after spending a year off working as a milkman in Japan, driving a Honda milk float. Massive talent, but will Fernando be faster than him? (Where have I heard something similar before?) Jenson has kept the seat warm for him, and promises to be lurking not too far away.
HAAS F1 TEAM
ROMAIN GROSJEAN: Massively talented driver who deserves a GP win soon, but I fear that this will not be the team that allows him that opportunity. Yet another driver I would have liked to have seen in a Ferrari (and I still have another – “Now there’s a novelty”, as Eric Morecambe would have said) rather than “Fun Finn”. Time is running out quicker than McLaren’s patience with Honda for this man to land a top drive.
Finished second in his first Grand Prix, and it’s been downhill ever since. That’s a career the wrong way round, Kevin! This has hardly been all the Dane’s fault though; lost a coin-tossing contest with Jenson Button for the McLaren Honda seat alongside Alonso for 2015 (boy was he relieved) and then found himself in an underdeveloped Renault Lotus Enstone last year.
RENAULT SPORT FORMULA ONE TEAM
THE INCREDIBLE HULKENBERG: I would have seen him in the second Ferrari this year, but instead of red he has gone yellow this season (I thought The Hulk was green?) and I can’t say I blame him, given the form of this team last year. Still, this year’s car looks good, and there are signs that Renault have their act together rather more than last year. So, good luck to The Incredible.
Seems a funny name for Jonathan to have given his talented offspring, since his son is younger than him, but hey-ho. This man, in my eyes at least, showed signs of developing into an excellent F1 driver last year, and fully deserved his place after a first-rate win in the GP2 championship in 2014. Gave “The Great Dane” far more trouble than was expected of him last year, and is proving a credit to his dad, more than he deserves perhaps for giving his son one of the strangest names since “The Incredible”.
SAUBER F1 TEAM
MARCUS ERICSSON: Last and very possibly least if last year was anything to go by, the Sauber team. For Marcus, at least it gave him a chance to show the F1 world what he could do more than with his time driving the Caterham 7 the previous year. Seems to have seen off Felipe “where is he now?” Nasr, which was somewhat of a surprise. Expect no fireworks from this team, other than from Monisha Kaltenborn if her drivers collide with each other as often as they seemed to be doing last year.
PASCAL WEHRLEIN: “That was not meant to happen!”, you could, and quite rightly too, have expected Pascal to have hollered when he found that, when the music stopped, he found that his car would be more likely to be parked at the back of the grid than the front, as he was expecting. Big Bad Wolffe apparently didn’t rate one year’s hard experience racing a Manor, usually very well, last year as “enough experience” to put this clearly gifted some-time Mercedes prodigy in with Lewis this year. Rather different to Red Bull’s attitude regarding young Vroomstappen, eh? Well, I know which kind of thinking I prefer, and I can’t help feel sorry for Pascal. Go out there (again) and show ‘em, lad!