The final piece of the Formula One car reveal puzzle has now been put in place, with Scuderia Ferrari revealing their challenger, the beautiful SF21.Broadcasting from Museo Ferrari, Mattia Binotto the Team Principal of Ferrari presented the single seater using hologram technology, instead of the usual Ferrari fanfare, no doubt due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As with all the 2021 cars, there was a partial freeze on development, with the SF21 being described as “born out of last year’s car” with revised aerodynamics and a new power unit (which will bring music to the ears of Tifosi everywhere). Ferrari have had a torrid time in recent years and are seeking a season in which they can provide a title challenge again. Power unit 065/6, as it has been named, has been worked on extensively with Ferrari’s technical partners with an efficiency in areas such as recovery of exhaust fumes being targeted. Ferrari have also made major changes to their aerodynamics, spurred on by regulation changes which has seen them focus on increasing aerodynamic charge and reducing drag. The new front wing and nose have added to the aerodynamic efficiencies that Ferrari have worked on for the 2021 season. The technical changes are arguably overshadowed however by the stunning new livery.
The standout features of the sleek livery are the burgundy coloured rear which is a nod to the very first Ferrari racing car, most recently seem at the Mugello Grand Prix in 2020, and bright green on the engine cover featuring the logo of title sponsor Mission Winnow. The deeper red effect is certainly eye-catching and will bring a smile to the hearts of the loyal fans of this iconic brand.
Ferrari and certainly the F1 world need a better 2021 and one can only hope that the optimism of the launch will be rewarded on track as Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz take to the track
Technical specifications Ferrari SF21
Power unit 065/6 Capacity 1600 cc Max RPM 15,000 Supercharging Single turbo Fuel flow 100 kg/hr max Configuration V6 90° Bore 80 mm Stroke 53 mm Valves 4 per cylinder Injection 500 bar – direct
ERS System Configuration Hybrid energy recovery system via electrical Motor Generator Units Battery pack Lithium-Ion batteries of minimum 20 kg weight Battery pack max energy storage 4 MJ MGU-K max power 120 kW (161 hp) Max MGU-K RPM 50,000 Max MGU-H RPM 125,000
Teen British driving sensation Emily Linscott has been making waves in the motorsport world since she began karting less than 4 years ago. Fresh from wins in the Britcar GT4 as well as podium finishes in the US Lucas Oil series, she has made bold moves both on and off the track.
Speaking to the PitCrew Online earlier this month, Emily described how a trip to a karting session with her father, ignited her passion for motorsport saying, “the adrenaline rush you ger from driving round on the limit is amazing…the feeling I get from the sport is like no other”.
Despite this, every day off track considerations come calling forcing Emily to make difficult decisions to “sacrifice time with family and friends and work harder than anyone else”. The one thing she could not sacrifice however, were her exams which she put ahead of the opportunity she had to race aboard. We asked Emily how tough a decision it was, “obviously turning down racing anywhere is hard as it’s a passion, but I’ve been taught and understand that if you want to play hard you must work hard”. She acknowledged that it is tough for every participant to establish a full-time motorsport career that would be lucrative enough to that they can rely on without a backup qualification and that it was “the right thing to do” to write her exams, which she passed.
One of the proudest moments of her flourishing career is the back-to-back wins she took at the hallowed Brands Hatch finale in 2019. Describing it as an “incredible weekend”, Emily said the wins, which were her first in cars, were even more special due to the “toughest conditions” that weekend. They were wins that she credits to her teammate. However much of Emily’s success can be attributed to her off-track training and preparation which allows things a more “natural” feel on the track.
While Emily says that her father is one person that she admires most in motorsport for the advice and support she has been given over her career, she has recently been given the opportunity to work with Indy 500 driver Pippa Mann. Emily describes working with Mann as “…one of the most inspirational times of my career, she’s so forward thinking and positive that some of her personality is rubbing off on me”.
She credits Mann with changing how she approaches motorsport and life. Their collaboration has extended to their #GetInvolved campaign which has been helping support Emily’s racing in the USA in 2020, “It’s a great way to get my supporters more involved in my racing”. The campaign aims to get Emily on track by supporting her career and in turn, supporters can own her limited-edition merchandise such as her Bell Helmet, Torq race suit and Walero base layers. The campaign launches 1 February 2020.
Emily has much in store in 2020 with an exciting special announcement soon involving her new sponsors FASTR, which we are looking out for on their social media channels.
Emily ultimately aims to take her racing as far as she can, winning championships and inspiring more females to take up motorsport by overcoming their fear of not being able to achieve success in what has been a traditionally male sport.
Emily is currently inspiring her community in Essex who have backed her from day one and whom she hopes will keep backing her as she attempts to fly the Essex flag at F1 or Indy Car someday.
Making tough judicial decisions is never easy on a Judge. You will always have on aggrieved party who disagrees with you, will take you on appeal and have their group of family and friends dislike you too. The same can be said for F1 stewards recently.
While the law, certainly here in South Africa, have a defined group of Judges for a period, F1 stewards change from race to race.
The Canadian Grand Prix and the incident between reigning and 5 time World Champion Lewis Hamilton and 4 time Champion Sebastian Vettel brought the role of the stewards into sharp focus with numerous and current drivers bemoaning the lack of consistency in decision-making and the impact it has on the ability of racers to do what they – and we – love most, race.
Stewards were hauled over the coals on social media by fans who felt that the decision to award Vettel a 5-second time penalty was incorrect and cost him what was a needed win. However, the same stewards were praised for being courageous in applying the rules by fans who felt that they got it right. It is almost a no-win situation for the decision makers.
Having a permanent panel of stewards for the season may aid consistency, but it is not inconceivable that this may present a different set of problems. For one it is a massive ask of any person to do, following the paddock around all season. This is especially important when you consider that former drivers often make up the panel. The second problem deals with the members of the panel. If we are honest, given the backlash on social media, it is possible that permanent stewards could be accused of bias (based on their previous stints in F1/comments they may have made in media) if a decision does not go the way of a particular team/driver.
Yes, this is a hypothesis, but if the events of Canada and the penalty given to Daniel Riccardo after the French Grand Prix are anything to go by, the decisions of the stewards will always be called into question.
And let us not forget the pass seen around the world at the Austrian Grand Prix. ICYMI – the clash between race winner Max Verstappen and pole sitter Charles Leclerc was investigated with no penalty being handed out. Racing won according to many fans while many a Ferrari fan felt aggrieved for the 2nd time in 3 races. Essentially it was the same rule that saw Vettel receive a penalty, however this was a different incident. A wait of 3 hours saw this one decided, whereas Vettel’s was done while the race was in progress.
On the face of it and in the mind of the F1 circle, there appears to be inconsistency in these decisions. Perhaps the problem does not lay with the decision makers, but rather on what informs the decisions?
Stick to the facts
The rule book. The FIA rule book is the veritable guide to the do’s and don’ts of F1. Among the rules is that a driver is prohibited from any manoeuvre liable to hinder other drivers or driving the car in an erratic manner, among other restrictions. Herein lies the problem – the rule book does not offer any explanatory notes on what would be considered erratic or just normal racing.
In law we have a Commentary to a legislation, which provides for an explanation of the regulations and rules. It provides clarity on the nuanced areas of law that may not appear fully in the hard and fast rule. Perhaps F1 could use something similar to assist the stewards in making decisions that take into account the practicalities of racing? In the event that this seems too cumbersome a task the solution could then lay in amending the rules to allow for the stewards to account for the practical elements of racing and take into account aspects such as what is “hard racing” vs “dangerous racing”.
Certain tracks allow for drivers to give each other a little more room, but some such as Baku, Canada and Monaco do not, which makes it difficult for the stewards to apply a general rule regarding driving in an erratic manner. An amendment to allow discretion based on these practical elements could go a long way in fixing the problem in F1 right now. – Rhea Morar (Deputy F1 Editor)
Eleanor Roosevelt once said that the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. If there is one team that has had to dig deep to keep their F1 dream alive, it is the Sauber team. That belief and dream came to beautiful fruition with the launch of their C37 2018 F1 challenger… alongside an old friend; Alfa Romeo.
Sauber have had a tumultuous few years which have been well documented, however the new ownership combined with the re-entry of Alfa into F1 created an air of optimism which took center-stage today with the unveiling of the Halo-ed C37.
The Quadrifoglio features proudly on the side of the dark candy apple and white car, which is being rated as one of the most striking liveries of the 2018 cars revealed thus far. Following suit with the other teams, the halo has been co-ordinated to look less conspicuous on the car and hopefully not be as distracting as the prototype seen in 2017.
The C37 will have 2018 Ferrari power, a move that is welcomed by both drivers. Marcus Ericsson begins another season with the Swiss based outfit and will drive alongside the talented and highly rated Charles Leclerc.
While more specific technical details are yet to be revealed, team Principal, Fred Vasseur has gone on record to say that the team is taking a new technical direction in 2018, featured a new aerodynamic concept that has been months in the making. Fans will recall that the team all but stopped work on the C36 in order to focus on the C37 and will officially roll out at the Circuit de Catalunya tests later this month.
The winglets on the car are delicate, which seems to be the trend with the cars revealed to date and significant changes to the side-pod areas. Sauber have struggled on aerodynamic intensive tracks and hope the changes will bring about an improvement.
The team are looking forward to improving on their performance and “catching up” with the field utilising the combination of experience and youth with their drivers and the sweeping changes at Hinwil, that has now lead to a close working relationship with the Ferrari team.
Sauber have been the great F1 dream, a single dream made good. 2018 may just bring about the next chapter in their extraordinary story.
The things you do for love… early mornings, late nights, moments of utter joy tempered with moments of abject sadness. It is an inexplicable bond, this thing called love, that causes a person to stand by the object of their affection in bad times and to celebrate the good times with an air of reckless merriment and joy.
No, you have not accidently stumbled onto a “how to fix my love life blog” or a tribute to some mysterious love. What you have found is my story on this love affair with Formula One that, as the Brothers Johnson would say, keeps me coming back for more. A few weeks ago my Crew colleague, Aaron Irwin, invoked the Righteous Brothers as he described losing that loving feeling he has for the sport of F1. He inspired me to examine the reason why I am still in love with F1 and keep on tuning in for more regardless of time differences.
I will be honest, much like a relationship with an actual human, there have been moments of sheer frustration that have made me stop and question why I still have this feeling for the sport. My friends, the non-F1 crowd that is, have a hard time understanding F1 to being with and so you can imagine their confusion when I vent about “the silly grid penalty nonsense and artificial feeling tracks”.
It was Michael Schumacher who cemented my attraction to the sport but it was Ayton Senna who formed its foundation. I loved how drivers as openly emotional and passionate as Senna and one who as passionate in a more clinical and equally brilliant manner that Schumacher possessed, could drive beyond what even their cars technically allowed. Schumacher battling with Mika Hakkinen and later Fernando Alonso would result in my family waking up at 5am on certain Sunday’s, due to the time differences to Australia and Japan, to the sound of Murray Walker saying “GO GO GO!”.
But with good times, comes the bad. F1 saw technical changes which resulted in certain teams finding loopholes well within the laws, giving them a technical advantage and negating any real competition for many years. Slowly the personalities of drivers were being controlled and the days of free speakers like Juan Pablo Montoya were ending, (although Kimi will always thankfully be Kimi). F1 was slowly feeling a bit too artificial with even drivers being told what to say and do and how to say and do it so as not to create a PR disaster. Tracks felt more like pandering to big money instead of reaching F1’s heart and soul… its fans.
Right about now, you would be staging and intervention trying to reason with me….
Yet I did not miss a race… not a single one. There were the little things that kept me there, Jenson Button’s empathic maiden championship win, Alonso joining Ferrari, Sauber staying in F1, Schumacher coming back and then breaking my heart by retiring.
You see the uncertainty of F1 is like nothing else. Take this year’s Singapore Grand Prix. It seemed to be all Sebastian Vettel for sure, many online said they would not even watch the procession, but then the first corner happened and changed the 2017 championship forever, similarly the resurgence of the Red Bull team, when many had written them off. You cannot predict an F1 weekend outcome. I still have that feeling, as the lights are about to go out, a nervous excitement and elevated heart rate, which prima facie sounds silly because, after all, I have nothing personally invested in the race. Lately, however, there has been a swing back to more openness and a nostalgic feel to things, the talent of a driver seems to be allowed more room and teams are closer, technically, to each other.
Like any relationship, my love of F1 faced some introspection, what kept me loving the sport? Perhaps Liberty Media have been the correct relationship counsellor? Let us examine that for a quick second. It is evident that fans are less critical of the new regime when compared to that of Bernie and Co. It seems that the more open approach, such as the access to the F1 drivers meeting and more access to the track, have given the fans more of a hands on approach to F1. It is all of that and more. It may sound a bit dramatic, (I am a lawyer, drama is pre-requisite), but my heart and mind and truly invested in F1. While there may be other motorsports that I enjoy, I love F1 and will continue to do so if the ethos remains.
What is this you may ask? For me it is the authentic feel of the F1 of old remaining and the marriage of driver and machine reaching the peak of human physicality and performance, tempered with the emotional and visual entertainment that only F1 can bring.
The year was 2005 and Red Bull Racing were looking to grow their brand in F1 for both the short and long term. As lady luck would have it, such an opportunity presented itself at the end of that season. Scuderia Toro Rosso (STR) was born, and the rest as they say, is history.
The struggling Minardi team was sold to Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz at the end of 2005, when he entered into an equal ownership agreement with F1 legend Gerhard Berger, which lasted until 2008 when the Red Bull team took full ownership.
Designed to serve as a vehicle for the development of their junior drivers before they could be promoted to the RBR senior team, STR has nurtured the talent of the many young drivers, the most notable of which is 4-time champion, Sebastian Vettel.
It was in an STR that Vettel took the first win of his legendary career when he shook up the paddock with a pole to victory drive at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix. He is, to this date, responsible for the only STR win in F1. His victory proved to be the catalyst for his amazing season, which earned him a promotion to the RBR senior team in 2009…. And we all know how that went!
Mateschitz’s vision of creating a sustainable future for his maverick brand in F1, had immediately paid dividends, which has again been repeated by the outstanding talent that is Max Verstappen.
Even though this season has been one to forget for the Dutch driver, his win soon after promotion to RBR again underlined the need for STR in keeping young talent in the paddock, especially given that tenure in F1 is uncertain to say the least. His efforts in the 2015 season resulted in RBR scoring the most points in their history in terms of the constructors rankings.
That’s not to say it has been all wine and roses for the team. Early on in their tenure, questions were raised of an unfair advantage that STR had gained as a result of their RBR link. The team had struggled with performance and handling issues, which had been alleviated to an extent during Vettel’s sterling 2008 season.
2016 saw STR find themselves inadvertently in the middle of a motorsport storm, when Daniil Kvyat, then driving for RBR was sent back to STR for further development, and replaced in the senior team by Verstappen, to the chagrin of a large contingent of F1 fans. The malcontent died down however, with Verstappen’s success at RBR.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN
There are lessons to learn in the RBR/STR journey, not the least of which is the value of a team that can act both as a developmental vehicle and retain some independence. STR also doesn’t follow a traditional “use the same engine as the parent team” model which is a departure from the usual in F1. But it is their treatment of younger drivers that stands out.
Teams often face the problem of developmental drivers, who usually run the odd FP1 session or in DTM/GP2, coming into the F1 team with little experience of the rigours associated with full time F1 driving. STR has allowed the younger drivers a way of developing their skills “on the job”, so as to speak, giving them a full shot at the F1 world and arguably a better chance when they are eventually promoted to the RBR team or even join another team on the grid.
Currently Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kyvat helm the machines at STR and while they have struggled a bit this season, the upcoming tracks should suit their style of driving and keep them in the mix for points.
“Brave”, a word that is readily and correctly used to describe Formula 1 drivers and their exploits on the track, essentially being strapped in to the motoring equivalent of a rocket ship. But sometimes, that word exits the apex and extends beyond the track in an unexpected way. A part of our Mercedes F1 tribute week, we look at the brave decision taken by reigning world champion, Nico Rosberg.
Rosberg shook the F1 world at the end of the 2016 season, announcing his immediate retirement from the sport, soon after he secured his maiden F1 drivers title. It was a season of attrition and hard work that saw a toe to toe, wheel to wheel fight for the title, gripping fans worldwide. After a season like that, only those privy to his decision could have expected the retirement.
The inevitable media and fan analysis began with certain sectors mumbling less than flattering comments. Rosberg is an intelligent and astute man and would no doubt have foreseen this and the fact that it may have, for a short time at least, slightly overshadowed the title win. Given the social media storm, media leanings and the fact that a decision like his was relatively unprecedented in the modern era, Rosberg’s decision was brave.
While many may argue that brave might be proverbially stretching things, consider this:
1. Rosberg’s history
2. The weight of the 2016 season
3. The social media discussion
Rosberg’s history is well known, the world champion was regarded as one of the hardest working and intelligent drivers on the circuit. While much as been written about him being the son of a world champion, Mercedes themselves would be the first to confirm that Rosberg was instrumental in the development of the Silver Arrows on their return to the sport.
However, it was his childhood friend and teammate that took the title with Mercedes and Rosberg fine-tuned his thinking for the 2016 season. We simply saw a different mindset, a focused determination and strength of purpose with one goal in mind; the championship.
This made for a titanic fight between him and Lewis Hamilton, coming to a head in Spain and causing tension both on and off the track. The social media backlash against Rosberg was especially harsh with many unpalatable comments being thrown about. Accusations of underhanded tactics were paired like a wine with conspiracy theories, all unfounded of course.
He however continued to focus on his goal, which came to fruition at the end of the season – Nico Rosberg was finally World Champion. Having endured many jokes, memes and media probes, Rosberg could finally join his father in that special club of champions.
Then came the announcement, a decision that he had taken and revealed to only those he was closest too. He would have achieved his goal and did not require anything further.
SOCIAL MEDIA STORM
Media, regular and social alike, erupted with opinions after the initial shock with reactions as diverse as the paddock itself. Many happily understood his reasons, related to his personal goals and family. However, it was inevitable that just as many, speculated that Rosberg could not defend his title or that he was somehow afraid to take on his teammate in 2017 and so on. Rosberg, who had endured many personal aspersions, would have foreseen this and how it would forever be linked to his title win.
Tweets and other social postings referred to him as “afraid of his teammate’s comeback in 2017” or “he won’t beat him again and he knows it” to more personal character related comments which we will not repeat, save for saying that it would make a sailor blush.
Yet he still had to conviction of character to take an unprecedented decision, retire immediately, despite what the F1 world would say, think, and record. Brave decision.
LIFE AFTER F1
Driving the dominant car and being crowned champion would make tempt any driver to stay on for more; another title and a chance to go wheel to wheel with the best again. But Rosberg is not your ordinary driver, he never has been.
Rosberg had set himself the goal of being a champion and achieved it in a season that caused deep division in the F1 world, often erupting into a war on and off the track. He waded through the murky waters and faced even more after his announcement. And yet he was unfazed, basking in his deserved success and committing to his role as a Mercedes ambassador.
While the less than flattering terms were being thrown about, Rosberg stuck firm, he was not retiring because he did not have “what it took” or because he had lost his passion, he retired because he wanted to. He accepted something that at times some drivers are reluctant and perhaps slightly afraid of; there is life outside of F1.
Psychology speaks about the strength of mind it takes to walk away from success and Rosberg, we would argue, displayed this in a way that we may not see for some time, he walked away while he had even more to gain. Some may argue that he had just as much to lose, a consideration which may be correct, however Rosberg has never changed his reasoning, he had nothing to lose because he achieved his personal goal, it was all he needed.
Brave we would argue is his step away from the paddock that he called home for years, with the rumblings about his reasoning not, as far as we know, affecting him, or causing him to waiver.
In taking such a step, Rosberg was unbowed and brave simply saying to the world, I have done all I need, on my own terms and I will leave the same way, despite what many may think. Stepping down in one’s prime is a decision that cannot be made easily and requires a certain something special to do. We would say that is brave.
The fifth round of the 2017 Formula 1 championship beckons this weekend with the paddock descending on Barcelona for the start of the “European” leg of the F1 calendar. The trip to Circuit de Catalunya will see Sauber F1 introduce an aerodynamic upgrade to the car, as they hope to open their points tally at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The circuit should not spring any surprises given that its layout has been favoured for testing during the winter and both drivers are eager to see how the developments will pan out over the weekend as we head into busy period of the season:
“We will also bring first modifications to the car, which we will then enhance and further develop within the next GPs. I am looking forward to this weekend being confident that we make another step in the right direction.”
“Considering the race weekend, it will be important for us to introduce some new aerodynamic parts on the car. I am positive that we can further develop the car in order to make progress, and thus improve the performance on track.”
Despite being a well-known circuit, given the extensive testing that takes place there, Barcelona can be tricky to set up for, given the cornering speed differentials seen at different points on the circuit layout. Downforce is an area that Sauber had struggled with in 2016 and hope to improve upon this weekend as the circuit places great emphasis on this area. Both drivers have chosen to go with 2 Hard Tyres, 4 Medium and 7 Softs for the race weekend.
Although the team is at a slight power differential, running the 2016 Ferrari power unit, by introducing upgrades alongside the other teams in 2017, they are light years beyond the gloom that faced them at this point in 2016. While Sauber may not necessarily score any points this weekend, we think the positive steps at Hinwil will see them ending the European leg with points in the kitty.
Despite the 2017 F1 season still being in its infancy, one team has already raised their proverbial hand in respect of the 2018 season.
The on-track action at Sochi saw both Sauber drivers struggle all weekend, however Marcus Ericsson put on, what Monisha Kaltenborn described as, a fighting performance, to finish in fifteenth place ahead of team mate Pascal Wehrlein who brought home the car in sixteenth place.
It was however the off-track activity that garnered attention after the Swiss outfit announced that they would part ways with long time partner Ferrari in favour of a new engine supplier in 2018—Honda.
Honda, who have faced a barrage of detractors this season including two-time world champion and incumbent McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso are looking forward to the challenge that Sauber will bring, according to Katsuhide Moriyama, Chief Officer, Brand and Communication Operations for Honda.
Kaltenborn likewise sees this as yet another milestone in the storied history of the independent team, who celebrate 25 years in F1 during this 2017 season. The move is in line with changes envisioned by the new ownership of the popular team.
While a feature-length debate could be made about the decision and the advantages and disadvantages to both sides, it has led to an interesting, albeit early look at possible 2018 driver line up.
THE McLAREN SIDE AND OTHER MOVES
Kaltenborn has not confirmed any links with the McLaren team; however, if history is to be relied on then it is possible that McLaren may supply Sauber with a gearbox and technical knowledge. This could lead to a driver placement, akin to that utilised by the Mercedes team in recent years. Two names stand out as far as McLaren are concerned:
NYCK DE VRIES
The 22-year-old McLaren Development driver, who is managed by one Anthony Hamilton, is currently racing in the Formula 2 series for Rapax and had been considered for the Ferrari GT programme, but McLaren had retained the faith in their protégé, keeping him in single seaters.
It is faith that seems well-placed, albeit with just the Bahrain F2 round complete, with De Vries finishing in the points in both races, and ahead of his very experienced teammate, giving him 9th place in the championship standings.
Why could De Vries make the hypothetical jump to F1 in 2018? For one, he is incredibly quick and a fast learner who could slot in a role next to the more experienced Ericsson (who is fancied to be retained) with ease. In Hamilton, he has a manager who is au faire with the ever-evolving animal that is the F1 paddock and who could make the transition an easier one that most.
His Dutch nationality could also count in his favour: ever since the arrival of Max Verstappen and the entrance of Heineken into F1, the Netherlands has seen an upsurge in the popularity of the sport, which can only be an advantage to De Vries.
The 2014 LMP2 Le Mans winner is a favourite in the motorsport world and is McLaren’s test driver having been signed in 2012, and is spending the 2017 season in the Formula E series with NextEV NIO.
Turvey’s racing acumen holds him in excellent stead for a possible entry into F1 and he has the intelligence to take on the technical side given that his Masters dissertation is based on F1 aerodynamics. Turvey will bring a wealth of racing knowledge to a team and would need very little time to learn the dynamics of F1.
SHAKEN AND STIRRED?
The Sauber Honda partnership has the potential to shake up other driver moves. The current lineup of Ericsson and Wehrlein have not been paired together for very long, given the latter’s slow recovery from injury.
Ericsson has carried the proverbial can at Sauber through the very difficult seasons of late and is expected to be retained by the Hinwil team as a reward for his hard work.
Wehrlein is the heir-apparent at the Mercedes team, albeit only after and if Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas leave the team. If neither of them do in 2018, his position in the Sauber team would fall under the spotlight. Wehrlein is a talented driver but has been unsettled in F1 with the Manor team falling out of the sport and the Sauber 2018 decision.
In the hypothetical scenario of a McLaren man at Sauber-Honda, could Wehrlein be moved to another Mercedes engine team? The simple answer is an obvious yes, but at whose cost? Esteban Ocon has been placing well for the Force India-Mercedes team and has impressed hugely thus far.
Williams have the unique dynamic of Felipe Massa, who retired and then emerged to replace the moving Bottas, and the rookie Lance Stroll. Wehrlein could conceivably replace Massa at Williams, if the proverbial powers that be are happy to pair relative “rookies” together.
If Wehrlein leaves Sauber, it seems likely that his best fit would be at Williams, rather than upsetting the good pair Force India.
The crystal ball of F1 is one that is foggy at the best of times. Sauber’s decision is not merely confined to that of an engine supplier (which is a debate for another time). It has the potential to affect the driver market much like a domino ripple. In a sport where tenure is as certain as a few seasons ago, this thought, we can assure you, is not lost on the drivers, even this early in 2017.
Sauber have always been the dreamers and chance takers of F1 and the Honda decision is no different. All that remains to be seen is who will take this jump with them.
History has special significance in the world of Formula One.
A comprehensive list of special history making feats is a story for another time, instead and in celebration of the Williams F1 team, we look at their part in the careers of two drivers who each form one part of the only two father and son combinations to have won drivers titles; Damon Hill and Nico Rosberg.
What else can be said about the son of F1 Champion Graham Hill except for legendary. For many, Hill will forever trigger memories of the blue and white colour’s of the Rothmans Williams team, with whom he won his title in 1996. It was the combination of Frank Williams & Patrick Head that gave Hill, then 33, a seat and rest, as they say, is history.
Hill spent 3 seasons will Williams, culminating in his historic title win during the 1996 season. But it was his steadfast determination, guts and tough skin that saw him move from spinning out in his first race to taking three victories by seasons end in 1993.
1994 will forever be remembered as modern F1’s darkest year, the year we lost Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger. Senna had been Hill’s teammate and at the wheel of the Williams during the San Marino Grand Prix. Hill, through the storm cloud of grief and anger that fell over F1, lead the team as team leader through what remains a painful wound on the soul of F1 and finished 2nd in the championship to Michael Schumacher.
1995 proved difficult for Hill, but in 1996 he would prove his detractors wrong, by cementing his place in history and becoming Drivers World Champion. While it would prove to be his last with Williams, Hill rewarded the faith that Sir Frank had placed in him, which would be repeated with another driver many years later.
The reigning world champion retired at the end of the 2016 season to the sadness of many of his fans. While his title was achieved under the banner of the Mercedes F1 team, like Hill, Rosberg too had Williams place faith in his young talent.
The son of F1 champion Keke Rosberg, began his career at the Williams team in 2006. His exploits in the Engineering aptitude test aside, Rosberg spent 4 seasons with the team and immediately broke a record in the first season, becoming the then youngest driver to set a fastest lap.
In 2008 he scored his first podium in F1 and also lead a Grand Prix for the first time under the floodlights of Singapore, which ultimately saw him finish in 2nd place.
2009 and his final season, Rosberg single handedly gave Williams 6th place in the constructors championship, earning every point for his team.
Williams had placed faith in a rookie driver, who relied on his intelligence and skill, much like Hill, and gave him a break into F1. More importantly, they kept him in the team based on his skill before he moved to Mercedes and his eventual title.
What, you may ask, is Williams role in these history making title wins? The answer to that is simple: Williams have over their many years in F1 looked to nurture talent and break boundaries by placing their faith in drivers who they could see the bigger brighter future with.
Williams have always had a firm place in the hearts of most drivers for the way in which Sir Frank was unapologetic for his choices in drivers, even when the paddock questioned him. You may say, “well they would have probably got a drive elsewhere”.
They didn’t, their drives were with Williams. The tenure of an F1 driver is one of the most uncertain things about the sport and many a rookie is simply not given the time and support to prove his worth. Williams put faith in both Hill and Rosberg, supported them and saw them gain the experience that was necessary to take their respective eventual titles.
That’s arguably all a driver wants… and a fast car of course!