A lot has happened since I last sat down to talk about the current happenings of F1. Max Verstappen going to Red Bull, the Mercedes boys taking each other out, and Lewis Hamilton is finally triumphant in Monaco. Of course, theres’s also the 2017 rules, the silly season has started, and I have musings on the future of the sport.
When the move to the full Red Bull team was announced for young Max, I was skeptical. I thought it was too early, and that he hadn’t proven himself enough. Sure he flattered the Toro Rosso on occasion last year, but more than often he was matched by his teammate, Carlos Sainz. So when I heard the first rumors of a seat swap, I didn’t bother rushing to my laptop in hopes of breaking the scoop.
After seeing his early pace in the big boy car, I had to wonder if maybe the Red Bull crew were far more clever than we gave them credit. I had a thought, “Oh wouldn’t it be cool if he won on debut?” but I quickly threw that thought out after qualifying. Seeing the Mercedes men well in front kept my head away from that dream. But sure enough, when race day rolled around it all fell apart for the silver arrows, and played right into the hands of Max. Holding off a world champion nearly twice your age for thirty plus laps was an astounding statement about his level of skill. He was cool under pressure, and was unbeatable when the cards came down.
The win in Spain seemed to give Red Bull the major kick in the ass it needed since 2015. They were winning again, the car is beautiful, and boy is she fast. Between Renault, I mean Tag Heuer, getting their engine shit together, and Adrian Newey seemingly back in top form, RB finally seems like they can threaten the podium at every race.
And sure enough, when we got to Monaco, it was another Red Bull, this time piloted by the perennially smiling Daniel Ricciardo, leading the pack. With an upgraded totally-not-Renault power unit in the back he dominated the weekend. Scoring a maiden podium position in the principality was a major victory for the Aussie, especially in the face of the young pretender to his form.
But Saturday triumph became Sunday tragedy, as a team error during the pit-stop phase became a huge snafu, causing the race to fall into the hands of one Lewis Hamilton. The echoes of last year’s Mercedes error ringing loudly in the ears of the Australian. It was heartbreaking to hear him on the team radio after the race, and it showed that even on the upswing, Red Bull still doesn’t seem to be on their near perfect form of the V8 era.
Triumph and failure is a tale of F1. But the resurgent Lewis Hamilton can also empathize with this idea. Six races in and somehow it’s been his first win of the season, a thought that seems impossible after the amazing run of wins and championships he has been on since the introduction of this new V6 era. Lewis winning, Ricciardo suing, and a very pleased Sergio Perez made for an awkward podium at the principality.
Combine all this with the silly season beginning in earnest and we find ourselves in the middle phase of this 2016 season. Will one of the Mercedes boys leave? Will Button move? How about Alonso? Will Kimi be forced out of Ferrari for a younger talent? All will be answered in the coming weeks and months, but as we look forward, what can we focus on?
- The battle at the front: With Lewis now closing the gap to Nico, it will be interesting to see if that gap continues to fall, or if Nico can put on another string of wins to try to seal his first championship.
- Red Bull resurgent, Ferrari faltering: With a Red Bull win and pole position we will see if the team can match their recent run of success on the demanding island circuit of Montreal. Combine that with a Ferrari that increasingly looks to be losing out to both the Bulls and Mercedes, and we might be able to see another shuffle at the top
- Lastly, the driver market: There are many seats open at the end of this year, and the rumors have just now really started to take hold. Will we see someone new at either Mercedes or Ferrari? Will the great British teams move onto new drivers? Pastor has been talking mad game about a return to the grid, and if so, where will he end up?
More on that as it comes dear readers.