The F1 circus moves to Spain this weekend but the rumors are already circulating and a lot of them are to do with the Finns at Ferrari
The fact of the matter is, no one expected anyone else to keep up. Mercedes were going to turn up, roll out, blast into poll position and then win repeatedly until everyone else was sick of the sight of them. Their significant performance advantage, the cause of more whining in the paddock than any of the highly tuned engines could achieve, was due to leave everyone else floundering in their wake completely outclassed.
Rumors Swirl At Ferrari
• Will Hamilton move to the Italian team?
• When will Bottas drive for them?
• Can Raikkonen keep his seat?
Formula 1, already facing a slump in viewing figures even in the motor mad UK, was expecting a season of remarkable predictability, which put sponsors on edge, and Bernie Ecclestone on the defensive with all sorts of rumors swirling around the posh boy’s circus as teams further down the grid began to find the sheer expense entirely disproportionate to their chances of winning, especially when their chances of winning were as near to nothing as made no odds.
The cost of power units alone has spiraled out of control, with cutting edge research and development really only open to the richer teams, and the benefits evident on the track. It had always been a rich man’s sport, but now it was developing into a stratified competition of spenders, with those that spent most winning and everyone else trailing along in their wake ranked by their budgets. Formula 1, the top flight of motorsport, was losing it’s edge.
Riding to the rescue, of this season at least, has been the blood red cars of Ferrari and their two experienced but vastly different drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Their performances have, under the circumstances, been exemplary displays of driving ability and team tactics. When no one else was gambling news and media coverage would be of anything but Mercedes victory after victory, Ferrari rewrote the hopes of all the teams.
Spanish Grand Prix
With so many tiny details factoring in to modern F1 racing it doesn’t take much of an error to give away time on the track to your competitors, and whilst Lewis Hamilton continues to look all but unbeatable most of the time, he has been beaten, and Nico Rosberg, has been shunted into third by the Ferrari’s snapping at his heels on more than one occasion. It is not an experience with which he is very pleased, and that’s been entertaining for everyone outside Mercedes.
This weekend it’s the turn of the Spanish Grand Prix where once again the rumors have started to circulate at speeds faster than anyone could hope for in qualifying. The biggest being that Lewis Hamilton, two time world champion, current driving championship leader and Mercedes’ biggest star, might be about to sign a deal to drive for Ferrari instead. This, on the face of it, appears ridiculous but stranger things have happened in Formula 1.
Most of the reasons behind this story hail from Mercedes not having got Hamilton to sign on the dotted line as his contract expires. It was said in March the deal would be done in a week, then silence reigned and thus the rumors started. Some say he might because of their iconic status in the sport, some because he likes their cars off the track, and some just because the time is right for him to move on and get an even bigger paycheck.
But whilst rumors of Hamilton moving to Ferrari is the stuff of a PR staff’s wet dreams, a more substantiated story is that Williams driver Vallteri Bottas would be making a move to Ferrari for the 2017 season. Williams have an option on him next season, and Ferrari have the same on Kimi Raikkonen whose second place last time out probably helped the team as they um and ah about whether or not to exercise it. If you like to bet on sports in Finland, expect your countrymen to step up their game.
Ferrari Keep Raikkonen Hungry
Ferrari have been keeping Raikkonen hungry, taking their own sweet time over renewing his contract, and muttering things about his staying at the team being dependent on his performances. The rumors of his replacement in 2017 possibly just another team tactic to keep him motivated to drive faster, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that when Ferrari deem it time for one Finn to step aside, there’s a good chance another Finn will step into his cockpit.
Like all the other rumors in Formula 1 the people involved are staying very tight lipped, whilst everyone else speculates ridiculously, but whilst the mind-games go on behind the scenes yet in front of the cameras, the bookies like ComeOn! Sportsbook still have Hamilton at 1.42 to win in Spain on Sunday, Rosberg is back at 3.65, Vettel at 6.90 and Raikkonen at 8.75 which looks like another parade in the offing, possibly explaining why F1 isn’t the most popular sport in China.
ComeOn! Sportsbook, however, is offering a few different books on the race in Spain, including a book on the safety car being used during the race (No 1.58, Yes 2.15) and a book on whom will retire from the race first, with poor old Pastor Maldonado heading the field at 9.50 on that one. You can even place a wager on the winning margin, and with over ten seconds at 2.75 that might just be worth a look, as might the 6.30 odds on either of the Ferraris putting in the fastest lap of the race.
Finnish gambling laws might not be all they could be but that really shouldn’t stop you backing the great talents of Kimi Raikkonen, especially on his getting a podium spot, and whilst you might have to wait a couple of years to see Bottas racing in red, his 1.36 odds of a top-four finish in Spain are worth taking a look at as the Finnish contingent in Formula 1 and Ferrari continue to make this a season of racing rather than parades.