Pascal Wehrlein replaces Rosberg & silly season

Pascal Werhlein in Mercedes race suit

Previously on TJ13 – Where does Werhlein go next?

https://thejudge13.com/2016/11/29/manor-savour-named-gutierrez-nasr-to-drive-2017/

 

Brought to you by TJ13 contributor R Lucke

I am a big fan of the silly season. Love the gossip. Whom with what and why. It keeps F1 alive during the winter season.

This actually the 4th time I have rewritten this item. I must admit I felt bad this season: silly season went from bad to boring to dead. But it is back alive!! From 4 open seats to 3 to 0, back to 1, or maybe even 2!!

Rosberg’s stopping will send a shockwave through the field! Rosberg dropped this bomb   on December 3, at 14:45. He will not defend his title. He achieved what he wanted to achieve. Perhaps we’ll see another young German Mercedes driver in Rosberg’s vacated seat?

Let the speculation begin.

Silly season: engine deals have long been decided. F1 personnel seems to have made all their switches. No tire war. Apart from the open seats coming months will be hard…

Next season’s regulation changes are a nice subject to talk about, but I feel this is more a “constructor thing”: nothing gossipy about it. The subject isn’t particularly alive to me. Will it shake up the field: not sure. Budgets haven’t changed, so I can only presume the big money-spenders will again be on top. But let me keep my rant about budgets bottled up for the moment.

Brawn’s new role? nah.. not today.

Today’s “pen wonder” will be about driver choices. Specifically rookies. Rookies are interesting: you never know what to expect. The downside is that of course we will lose one of our heroes. (Yep, still miss Barrichello)

What makes a more likely candidate? For what I have seen drivers that make it to F1 have a combination of

1) talent to go fast

2) have an interesting nationality for sponsors to push their products into a particular market (connects to point 3)

3) bring in their sponsor money directly

4) be in the development program of …

5) whatever Ecclestone finds interesting

This does not have to be in that particular order, not all factors weigh the same, and interpretations are flexible.

Haryanto was a paydriver, that much was clear. However he did surprise me in terms of speed. Not that he ever (correct me if I am wrong) finished races before Wehrlein, but in terms of qualifying, he wasn’t the debacle I assumed he would be. The money ran out.

Enter Ocon: when he whooped Wehrlein’s butt the first qualifying, I through to myself: “force to be reckoned with” but in later races he did nothing to really impress me. He did not pull an “Alonso”.

Wehrlein or Ocon? Either of the 2 would do: the deciding factor for me would be his nationality, and I would go for Ocon. Allthough Grosjean is pretty good, we have been lacking a great french star for years.

Good Germans: we have too many of them. I don’t want to look at a bunch of Germans battling it out. Wasn’t that what killed DTM internationally? WTC deserves some more tv time, but there again: a discussion for later.

Back to the point I wanted to make: IMHO Haryanto would have been a great option. Not in the Manor though: they advanced well this year, but still to far from the points. A country like Indonesia would like to see some points to really get hooked on F1.

Ocon to Force India: this must feel like a defeat to Wehrlein. Wehrlein taking a seat at Sauber: I can imagine why, but really.. Ferrari engine for 2016, new owners.. not a jump to envie. And not the ideal recipe for succes.

Will Haryanto make it? No. The Hellmund deal seems to have crossed that out. Next year with a bigger check? No, can’t remember a paydriver to come back after a year’s absence.

Mercedes “paying” to get Ocon a seat in the Force India makes sense. He is in their development program. I must admit that I don’t know what that means “development program”: a long term contract? A stamp on a piece of paper saying “we like you”? Or is it simply “we need to get to him before anyone else can”? As spectator I would like to suggest: out with the development programs! Of no extra entertainment value to me. I would like to see a maximum of 3 drivers under contract in a team.

Development programs strike me as utterly boring and predictable: sign of the time that everything needs to be measured 10 times before it can race. It would be more exciting if a team would have to take a chance. Nowadays is it bad: no backing, no chance to get a seat. We, as spectators, would surely like to be the judge of talent (and separate the gods from the lesser ones)?? F1 is a spectator sport, and we like ballsy stuff.

Verstappen is a good example: where the hell did he come from? How did he get his seat? Big balls on the part of Red Bull. Then promoting him into their main team in the middle of a season: wooowww!! We F1 fans loved it, and spoke about it for weeks. This is the sort of spectacle viewers want and need. Not some over-analysed decision.

Palmer: only at the end of the season he seems to be picking up steam. The “early” confirmation at Renault surprised me. Do they really need this type of “stability”? The Hulk will bring all stability and experience they need.

Stroll in the Williams, Van Doorne in the McLaren for 2017: interesting but no surprises. The Stroll/Williams combination: I am secretly expecting that this is where the 2017 sparks will be flying.

Sainz to stay at Torro Rosso: I don’t see any need for Red Bull to keep him there. The golden duo for the next years has been decided Ricciardo and Verstappen, so no chance for an upgrade. He was unlucky with Verstappen as team-mate. Kind of a “Jos Verstappen next to Michael Schumacher”situation if you care to remember.. This gentleman is better than the Torro Rosso allows to show. I would have liked to see Sainz at Renault. Kyvat: definitively a guy I feel deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Ocon has been confirmed (and did it play a role that he battled Verstappen before?) at Force India. Ericsson has been confirmed to take the first seat in the Sauber, but only after sniffing the Force India seat. Can anyone blame him? I must admit Ericsson developped better than I expected. IMHO he deserves a better seat.

Kaltenborn had been contemplating whether to give Nasr his seat back. Banco do Brasil stops sponsoring: Kalteborn cannot withdraw her paws fast enough to drop Nasr. The second seat will likely go to Wehrlein. But since Rosberg just retired, Mercedes might want to reverse this. In which case Wehrlein could go to Mercedes, opening up a last seat at Sauber.

It may be a side-subject, but what strikes me is the nonchalance with which Kaltenborn hires and dumps drivers that save their financial butts: Nasr gives them 10th place, which will pay millions, and remember the Giedo van de Garde debacle? Giedo paid millions in advance to have a race seat, only to be dumped after the money was spent. Not really a confirmation of the “Sauber is a sympathetic team” image.

Once more, back to the subject, ticking of my list: F1 needs a Brazilian. (And an American, but that is a different story) If it weren’t for the abysmal financial situation of Manor, this would be the only team were we could see some interesting silly season maneuvering. Nasr: not the exciting option, and for him it must feel a step back, but he scores on point 2 (and don’t forget 5 ;-)) of my list.. But the Hellmund deal seems to have already materialized that seat. Together with Gutierrez? A surprise maybe (and a real step back from Haas) but not an exciting choice from my perspective.

I would have liked silly season to last longer.. I can’t remember a year when teams made their choices this timely. Gosh.. the winter of 2016-2017 will be long and dark.. But a glimmer of hope: Mercedes’ open seat might have a domino effect!

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32 responses to “Pascal Wehrlein replaces Rosberg & silly season

  1. First things first: sainz to Renault is what I’m begging for, for a while now (online). Me and my buddy curm see this huge potential in this young man. So part two would be: you messed up. The Schumacher vs Verstappen thing… sainz is better as Jos. I see a young alonso in sainz. Best thing we can hope for is that Danny does replace kimi after next year and RBR promotes Carlos.

  2. I’d be very surprised if M-B put Wehrlein in Rosberg’s seat. He didn’t dominate either Ocon or Haryanto. In fact while he usually out qualified Ocon, Ocon actually had better race results.

    I think Rosberg’s replacement all depends on what role they want that driver to be. If they want a Riccardo Patrese then I would think the obvious choice is Bottas. Williams get a pile of dough, free / cheap engines and Wehrlein moves there and costs them nothing. If they want someone who can give Hamilton a run for his money then I would see Hulkenburg as the choice – but that would cost big time to get him out of Renault.

    The problem for any driver moving to M-B next year is that I suspect it will be a one year deal – as I sense the driver they really want is Vettel – whose contract with Ferrari ends in 2017. Ocon or Wehrlein, if and when they move to M-B would be replacements for Hamilton.

  3. Hats (helmets?) off to Nico.
    A brave move to “follow [his] heart”.
    I suppose if you’ve climbed Everest once, what difference does it make to climb it again? Unless you’re into that kind of thing.
    I wonder how much Jules Bianchi’s tragic death informed his decision.

    • It’s an interesting idea. As I said in my post I think M-B want a driver on a one year deal, and Button fits that exactly. It’s next year that Vettel, Alonso, Riccardo become available and that’s when M-B want to be able to pick who they really want.

    • I would so love to see it. And Button would tick so many boxes for Mercedes – dependable, fast, great ambassador, and (rare as hen’s teeth) a team mate able to stay on good terms with Lewis! Technically he’s under contract for next season, but I can’t see the team not being willing to let him go if that’s what he wanted to do (after all he’s done for them).

      But sadly I think jenson’s heart has been in the departure lounge for the last half dozen races. He wants ‘off’ the F1 treadmill, and I don’t think even a chance of being in a competitive car again would change his mind now. But I would so love to see it!

  4. Question is, will Hamilton — now with his nomination to F1 greatness rescinded — surrender to ennui as a result of Rosberg leaving Formula the First?

    Will the psychological slap that is Rosberg K.O.’ing Hamilton and walking, beating Hamilton to the WDC, result in a sort of sporting depression, a despondency, à la Senna when when Prost called it a day as champion in ’93?

    I suppose Rosberg ain’t no Prost, nor is Hamilton a Senna, but still?

    Will a Pascal type driver adequately engage Hamilton’s competitive spirit, or again, will it be nothing more than an irrelevant Damon-esque challenge as Senna began getting owned by the new guy, Schumacher.

    What a move by Rosberg… check and m/f’ing mate, B. Can’t help but clap the bloke out. Inspired, in my opinion. Truly the cherry upon the Schadenfreude cake.

    The world of F1 most definitely rotated in 2016.

    I’ve a feeling there’ll be many a mattress placed against hotel walls at 3am on the eve of Grand Prix next season.

    For the want of five points the legacy was lost.

    @WTF_F1

    • I also pondered the loss of Lewis’ foil, sparring partner, benchmark, etc.
      Could that be more unsettling than ‘merely’ switching a few engineers?
      These thoroughbreds are especially sensitive little beasties, who knows what’ll happen when a butterfly farts on the other side of the planet?
      I, for one, am going to miss the rolling of eyes from the other ‘podiumistas’ whenever Nico would out-foreign-language Lewis during the interviews.

    • awesome piece as usual!! IMHO, Merc needs a truly gifted superstar to replace Nico. Jens, Fred and Seb all fit that category, BUT all are at or near their shelf life expiration date. unless they are secretly looking at a pull-out-of-F1 date, they also need a young stud for their second seat. Ocon is still too new – today… Pascal ?? I don’t think he has the chops. VanDoorn is still unproven, but a serious contender. they could go off the deep end and get Daniil on the cheap – a possible superstar if, if, if 🙂 the only sane choices for Merc are for Danny, Max or Carlos. open up the checkbook and get r done, Toto

      • “Unless they are secretly looking at a pull-out-of-F1 date…”

        Hmmm… A thought worth entertaining?

        Formula E?

  5. Man I still can’t believe Rosberg retired… Even if he won his title by being machine-like consistent rather than being the outright fastest on race-day, retiring immediately after was not something I expected. Maybe he just wants to chill and stay with his wife and daughter (Bianchi’s death may have had an influence; not that dissimilar to Häkkinen retiring in 2001 because he had his wife’s thought in mind). Whatever though: titles are titles and Hamilton made an ass out of himself so many times by botching his starts.

    I doubt Hamilton will be influenced, I think he may also have reached his mental milestone (matching Senna), now what? Maybe losing the title to Rosberg will spur one more angry season out of him but would he look to keep winning and winning? Only he knows and I would say that this season he didn’t show that. Mercedes probably want Vettel in right now as Hamilton has given them the worldwide recognition so getting a German driver to lead the Silver Arrow would be the top management’s icing on the cake. What would stop MB from getting Vettel now, aside from money to compensate Ferrari?

  6. It’s just hard for most to accept that Rosberg just had a spoonful of the same medicine Hamilton gave Alonso as a rookie back then in 2007, he literally done Alonso’s head in, and likewise Rosberg’s feeling the same way.
    All this bla, Bla, Bla, about family is for sissys and a weak excuse. Massa had family, Grosjean also has a young family, and would probably want to prove their greatness after winning a title.
    But personally I don’t blame him, would any of us here want to face 2017 with a highly motivated Hamilton racing with a dagger between his teeth?

  7. @Racer’s Ramblings

    re: “Enjoy the off-season. Merry Christmas.”
    [December 2, 2016 at 05:08]

    There is no ‘off-season’, as you humans call it.

    “Splundig vur Thrigg, Earthlings!”

    • Quaequam Blag, Dobzizzle! Don’t go. You are TJ13’s Klfixam and Nazotimer. If you must go, then Thrashoruns.

      • Florix Grabundae, Racer’s Ramblings, for your kind words.

        Fear Not! ‘Tis merely a festive jaunt to (the perineum of the leg of) the place you earthlets call Italia.

        I shall be closely monitoring proceedings, albeit remotely.

        I trust no-one will be enough of a Grexnix to provoke the ire of your resident Klfixam, Judge13. But be warned… I will send Dredd if I have to.

        Thrashoruns yourself, RR. I will be looking into your inauguration as Krill Tro Thargo, in recognition of the Vinglop Hudsock you have given through your Scrotnig contributions to this Zarjaz forum.

  8. Florix Grabundae, Racer’s Ramblings, for your kind words.

    Fear Not! ‘Tis merely a festive jaunt to (the perineum of the leg of) the place you earthlets call Italia.

    I shall be closely monitoring proceedings, albeit remotely.

    I trust no-one will be enough of a Grexnix to provoke the ire of your resident Klfixam, Judge13. But be warned… I will send Dredd if I have to.

    Thrashoruns yourself, RR. I will be looking into your inauguration as Krill Tro Thargo, in recognition of the Vinglop Hudsock you have given through your Scrotnig contributions to this Zarjaz forum.

  9. I think if Ocon and Wehrlein are not ready for the Mercedes seat, then Bottas. He’s in good relations with Mercedes team principal, has done very good so far and would be a great fit. Otherwise I guess Vettel and Alonso. I just can’t see Button, as someone mentioned, his heart has been in the departure lounge. I think anyone can do well in the Mercedes, but I think Bottas would give Hamilton a run for his money in 2017. But I’d like to see Vettel going against Hamilton as that would start fires on the forums 🙂

  10. Off topic
    Did anyone catch video of Vettel and Raikkonen at Finali Mondiali in Daytona?
    This is the best video I’ve found.

  11. None of the top teams will let their drivers go. So my best bet is Bottas or Perez. Since they are both driving for Mercedes powered teams.

    Too soon for Wehrlein imho. Let him (and Ocon) get more experience in the next few years.

    If Perez then Wehrlein to FI or if Bottas than Nasr to Williams.

    If Manor sale goes through its Gutierrez to Manor.

    • It all comes down to money.
      Would McLaren let Fred go if the price was right especially if they didn’t have hope for next year? Sell Fred and take a cheap driver – maybe.
      Ferrari prprobably not.
      Red Bull has no reason to, and I think they believe they can beat Mercedes.

  12. “It may be a side-subject, but what strikes me is the nonchalance with which Kaltenborn hires and dumps drivers that save their financial butts: Nasr gives them 10th place, which will pay millions, and remember the Giedo van de Garde debacle? Giedo paid millions in advance to have a race seat, only to be dumped after the money was spent. ”

    Doesn’t seem like a Sauber-only (or Kaltenborn-only) thing. If I recall Caterham did the same thing to Petrov, when the latter delivered them in extremis the much needed point in Brazil (and the accompanying millions), only to get dumped at season’s end. Looks to me like the modus operandi at desperate teams in the Ecclestone Starvation era…

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