One minute, we were looking forward to the start of spring. The next, we're all becoming teachers, bakers, SIM racers and house dwellers. As gears of commerce are beginning to engage we twitched our curtains to see what's happening.
It is Wednesday morning and nearly the middle of May. The now seemingly very distant memory of that first Formula One race in Australia that then went sideways. Is it still the same year that happened? You may be pleased that the rumour mill has been the first cog kickstarted again.
First, the news leaked early that Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari will be parting ways at the end of this season. Confirmed and within seconds, the tinderbox of social media chatter fired to life with speculation of who would go where. Although Nigel Mansell rumoured to be heading back to the Scuderia was a step too far even for the circus.
As the rumour mill began firing on all cylinders, sources were stating with high confidence that Daniel Ricciardo* is McLaren bound. This move that will see Carlos Sainz heading to Ferrari.** Speculation for the Vettel / Ferrari split is that they couldn't align a way forward together. Mark Webber said that one day Seb would head to Ferrari then retire to be a family man. Prophetic? Perhaps. Vettel has stated that recent global events have made him re-assess his life goals. Ferrari stated, 'There was no specific reason that led to this decision, apart from the amicable belief that the time had come to go our separate ways in order to reach our respective objectives.'
That clears that up then.
Sky's Ted Kravitz read through the press releases and believes that Ferrari are clearly backing Charles Leclerc over Sebastian and that position is not acceptable. The Vettel camp stating what is important in his life and matters most given global events, may point to a retirement. Today, rumours are he will rejoin Red Bull. All of this being met with shouts of silly season and merry-go-rounds!
With contract negotiations still not confirmed between Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, that raised questions of whether he would be the man on the move to Ferrari. But they could have had Hamilton over the winter. Indeed, they had talked but Ferrari went back to the table with Vettel. Having two number one drivers in their team isn't something Ferrari would want so will they prefer to get a number two driver to support Charles?
Speaking of Mercedes, Lewis has been very quiet following the un-raced trip to Australia. He has been exercising seemingly in LA, learning French and keeping his mind straight for the eventual return to racing. While others have been racing, indeed crashing too on various SIM virtual racing series, Lewis has been keeping minimal updates to the world. His teammate has been keeping fit in Finland with his cycle racing girlfriend, Australian Tiffany Cromwell. He has hinted that he is working on changing his driving style so that will be interesting to see when wheels start turning for real.
Christian Horner has taken to blogging to clear up the events that led to the Australian debacle. He raised questions on the validity of what constitutes being a constructor. Was this aimed at possible changes or just another moan? Go have a read
and make your own mind up. Meanwhile, Alex Albon has taken part in and won a couple of virtual e-sports e-prix and Max Verstappen has kept the orange faithful supplied with a few antics and his training regime videos.
Mention of the simulator (e-sports) and virtual racing leads on to the fun to be had watching Charles Leclerc enjoying racing everything from F1 cars to lawnmowers and keeping us entertained with his choice of bandanas or bananas as racing apparel. Llando Norris has delighted with his new hairdo and George Russell has also been enjoying screen time from home with his virtual paddock pals.
On a serious side of F1, the teams stepped forward with supporting the key health workers by creating what they could for PPE and donations from Lewis Hamilton and Ron Dennis remind us that the sport does care about more than just itself.
Overall, the announcement from Vettel and Ferrari gives us hope that we may yet see some racing this season. As we said back in March, we cannot wait!
*Multi-year contract signed and sealed this morning. (Thursday)
** This has now also been confirmed!