Cabby’s Questions: British GP

Formula One is coming home after it’s seventieth anniversary race. The back-to-back races at Silverstone last year was the peak of the Lewis Hamilton versus Max Verstappen battle during the 2020 season. The first race had the most dramatic ending of a race last season. Hamilton had a significant lead over Verstappen with eight turns to go when his front driver side tire exploded. It was a race to the finish line that Hamilton narrowly won by one corner. The second race at Silverstone was F1’s 70th anniversary race. In this edition of the race, Verstappen won the race after starting behind both Mercedes drivers. He and Red Bull were better than Mercedes on their pit strategy.

Will Russell be promoted to Mercedes in 2022?

The rumour mill has been on overdrive during the lead up to the British GP. There were rumours that Mercedes was going to announce their contract with George Russell for 2022 to promote him to the works team at his home GP. Russell shot those rumours down this week on the F1 Nation Podcast by saying that “nothing has been signed or sealed and nothing will be announced in Silverstone”.

Red Bull stoked the fire even more when they said that they would consider hiring Russell if Mercedes doesn’t. Toto Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal and Russell’s manager, doused some water on the flames by announcing that a decision will be made at the end of the season after the distractions of a title fight and conversations with both drivers in the running and an announcement will be made in the summer.

Some former F1 drivers have added their two cents in this discussion, Ralph Schumacher, brother of Michael Schumacher, has tipped his cap to Russell for the Mercedes seat. He believes that Mercedes needs to think about the future post-Lewis Hamilton and Russell will give them the most success in the future. Questions and rumours will continue to fly around Formula 1 and Mercedes until a final decision is made.

Are Ocon’s struggles related to his recent contract extension?

Esteban Ocon signed a three-year contract extension on June 16 and ever since it has seemed he has completely fallen off. Since signing his contract, there have been three races and he has finished P14 twice and had a DNF. He has scored four times already this season. Ocon’s performance of late is in contrast with his teammate’s success.

During those same three races that Ocon has struggled, Fernando Alonso has finished in the top ten and walked away with 7 points. Alonso should have had a better result at the Austrian GP had he not been held up by Sebastian Vettel in the qualifying. It begs the question whether Alpine should have signed him to a multi-year extension when their top young driver, Guanyu Zhou, is currently leading the F2 drivers championship.

Will the teams push F1 to eliminate the penalty points?

After the penalty point spree in the Austrian GP, several key players in the paddock have discussed whether F1 should get rid of their penalty point system. The current rule is that if a driver receives 12 penalty points on their Super Licence in a twelve month period based on the date they received their first point, they will receive a one race ban. 

Currently, the two drivers at risk to receive that race ban are Lando Norris and Sergio Perez with 8 points each. Lando was at 10 points after the Austrian GP after receiving four points for his incident with Perez but two of his points have been removed since they have exceeded their twelve month period. His remaining points will not “disappear” until November. Therefore, McLaren has had to make contingency plans in case Norris does receive his race ban. 

Unfortunately, McLaren does not have any drivers in their Young Driver’s programme waiting to take over Norris’ seat therefore they must search outside for a replacement. Luckily, due to their engine partnership with Mercedes, they might be able to dip into their reserves. Some of the prominent names in this list are Stoffel Vandoorne (Formula E), Nyck De Vries (Formula E) and Nico Hulkenberg (former F1 driver). McLaren hopes that they will not have to resort to Plan B.

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