It has been quite the news week in the world of F1.
Felipe Massa has announced his retirement, Sergio Perez is 99% announced as a Force India driver for 2017 and today Jenson Button announced that he will not be contributing to the stalest line up in F1 since Jarno Trulli joined Toyota by not joining Williams. Instead, Button will be taking the only sensible option left to him, and will sit out 2017 waiting for the inevitable Alonso walk out.
Despite thousands of column inches being written about F1 this weekend, almost none of them mention our BAE’s Manor Racing. Luckily, we exist purely to trundle out blog after blog about a F1 team no one else cares about! So here is our own humble blogs take on the current F1 silly season and our thoughts on who will likely be lucky enough to drive for the Banbury Babes in 2017.
Pascal will stay
We believe as of today, there is only one seat up for grabs at Manor Racing for next season. The news that Sergio Perez has opted to stay at Force India is bad news for Pascal Wehrlein who had for some time been reported as the replacement for Perez if he opted to join Renault.
There is a seat (possibly two) open at Williams but with the names of Nasr and Stroll also being linked with the seat it semms that money is tight at Williams and despite being backed with money from Mercedes it won’t be enough to compete with a bank of a major economy or a Billionaire Daddy. In our opinion Wehrlein should not be too disappointed about missing out on a swap from Banbury to Grove.
His good day’s like the once he just had at Monza ensure he is heralded as the next big thing destined for a drive with Mercedes F1. The days that he was out qualified by a pay driver who previously had a dubious reputation go unnoticed. He is very much under the radar at Manor. Pascal is potentially a World Champion but he is by no means the finished article and could do with another year learning his trade nearer the back of the grid where his off days go unnoticed.
There is also the chance that there will be weekends where the gap is not that big between Williams and Manor next season. Something doesn’t seem right at Williams at the moment. They have gone stale and the list of the rumored number two drivers for next season doesn’t exactly suggest the glory days are just around the corner for Willaims. You could argue for a young driver that it is better to shine occasionally in Manor than been seen going down with a sinking ship at Williams.
So who do we believe will be lining up as Pascal’s partner next season?
Firstly, the team tend to leave their driver line up to the very last minute and we expect them yet again to be the very last team to confirm their line up. There are several reason for this, mainly because it will be a sellers market once they have the last seat available on the market but a lot can change between now and the end of the season.
Manor currently are in 10th place which could ensure the short term future of the team. Not only are they in front of Sauber in the Constructors table but are now regularly beating them on the race track. It appears only a freak race will see Sauber score points this season but freak races do indeed happen in F1 and nothing should be taken for granted. For that reason alone we do not expect any announcement regarding the second driver until December at a minimum.
If the team do hold onto the all important 10th place in the Championship then they can weigh up all the options in front of them and pick a driver that can bring finances and on track performance. Lose 10th place in a freak race situation and it will come down to which driver come bring the most money to the team like it always has since the team first appeared on the grid back in 2010.
So let’s look at the potential runners and riders for the second seat at Manor next season.
The current favorite among the press, will in our opinion be odds on favorite to fill the second seat if the team fail to secure the 10th place in the constructors championship due to the large financial backing he can provide. Of all the names linked to the team it appears he is the one who can write the biggest cheque.
He has been the teams development driver for two seasons now and has already participated in testing duties for the team. He has a solid but not spectacular record in the junior formula’s and has scored a handful of GP2 sprint race wins this season and is currently 6th in the GP2 championship. Securing a Super License may be an issue for Jordan but he could participate in enough tests between now and Melbourne next season to secure the license.
King would be a sensible choice for the accountants and has proven himself to be a solid enough performer and would likely be do a decent enough job but we have yet to see anything that suggests he is not the next Max Chilton or the new Jolyon Palmer.
The man who replaced Rio Haryanto at Spa looks set to have only a brief stay at Manor and is using his secondment to Banbury as a learning process for his first full season in F1 next season with Renault F1.
A talented young French driver fits the bill for the now once again French team from that well known French town of Enstone just north of Paris. The news that Sergio Perez will not be joining Renault all but confirms what we have been hearing for a while.
Only the slim possibility of Fernando Alonso turning up at Renault will mean there won’t be a seat for Ocon at Enstone. Mr Ocon’s time at Manor will be much like a holiday romance. Fun, short but neither will give two hoots about each other this time next year.
We are on record of being long term fans of Rossi and if we had our way he would have been picked as a full time driver in 2016. We are aware of the market forces that prevented that from happening and since then Rossi has gone onto to win the Indy 500 so it has not worked too badly for him.
It’s what has happened since then that has slightly soured us on Rossi. When it became clear that Haryanto was not going to see out the season, Rossi put out this ridiculous story that he turned down a chance to race with Manor for the rest of season in order to stay in Indy Car. He was either trying to put his own spin on a bad news story for him or he needs his head looked at. 99.99% of race drivers would crawl on broken glass to get the chance to race in F1. More likely is that he was offered the rest of the season at a certain price and he couldn’t match it, even with his Indy Car winnings.
Either way it now seems Rossi has opted to stay in America. We wish him well but it’s a shame his talents are going to waste in a third rate series.
The young Canadian is possibly the only driver on the market that could out bid King if it comes down to a good old fashioned auction. Although it seems that Williams are every bit as keen for the money as Manor are and can offer a better ride for 2017.
According to Forbes magazine, Lawrence Stroll (Lance’s father) has a net worth of $2.4 billion which makes Daddy King’s worth look like small change. With resources like that should be enough to see him into F1 at the grand old age of 18. If he wins Euro F3 this year, he’ll have enough points to automatically gain a super license and will undoubtedly find a posistion somewhere in F1 next season.
Joloyn Palmer and Kevin Magnussen.
Yes, the current Renault line up. It appears that the team are in the market for two new drivers next year, freeing up two F1 drivers with experience who also happen to come with a budget. Music to the ears of any F1 principal running a team on a shoestring.
Palmer has roundly been trounced by the Magnussen this season who has scored all the teams points thus far. However, Palmer comes with a much bigger budget and ticks boxes that neither King or Stroll can tick in terms of experience. If the team lose out on the 10th place position and require the money than Palmer may well come into the reckoning.
Last but by no means least is K-Mag who in our opinion is the best driver the team could realistically target. He may just about hold onto his Renault seat next year and we would believe that he would be incredibly unlucky to lose his seat for a second time but that is the way things are looking for the young Dane. He seems to have made a knack of being at the wrong team at the wrong time. He’s like a Scandinavian Fernando Alonso.
Some may argue as to why Magnussen would want to take a perceived step backwards by joining Manor. One way to look at it is if Magnussen was to drop off the F1 grid for a second time there would be no way back and at his age that would be a huge waste on his talents. Joining up with Manor would put him back in the Mercedes family and the chance of beating a Merc wonder kid in Pascal Wehrlein could potentially enhance his reputation and get his career heading in the right direction once again. We also think the MRT06 will be more competitive that the current Renault car he is driving.
Of course this move can only happen if the team secures the 10th position in the constructors championship and money is not the primary concern. The team would be gaining a young, proven, fast driver, with two years F1 experience with something to prove. They would get a driver that is a known quantity that would push Pascal Wehrlein to the limit and allow both Manor and Mercedes to truly evaluate just how fast he is. What is more is that K-Mag comes with some sponsorship. Not quite Billionaire Daddy money but a healthy amount of sponsorship follows Magnusson from Denmark.
It may be a long shot but we can dream right? Who would have believed this time last year that Manor would be lining up ahead of two Renaults, two Torro Rosso’s and splitting the Mercs? Who would have believed we were talking about only a freak race robbing us of that important championship money. Who would have believed we would have a line up of two potential World Champions?
The team has made remarkable process under the stewardship of Stephen Fitzpatrick. From the omni-shambles of 2014/15 to us even being able to discuss a line up of the quality of Wehrlein and Magnussen without fear of being laughed off social media. We believe that team are in a position to think bigger than ever before so why not K-Mag for 2017!
In Fitzpatrick we trust!