Two weeks have passed since Spa and we are ready to start over again. The same question remains and while the events in Belgium, and the post-race dissection, generated many column inches, the conundrum remains: can Williams win a race this season and will it be at Monza?
What can the ‘best of the rest’ salvage?
Williams’ chances at Monza are certainly a worthy talking point but certainly not the most obvious! With Mercedes coming close to imploding, there has rightly been talk of what the ‘best of the rest’ can salvage in the aftermath. Putting the Rosberg/Hamilton battle to one side, Williams have a legitimate opportunity at the Italian cathedral of speed. Mercedes’ braking issues in 2014 are well documented and Hamilton’s spectacular failure in Germany suggests it might remain unresolved at circuits with heavy braking. Williams’ ability to win will however rely primarily on their own ability to convert an opportunity – irrespective of whether it comes from Mercedes technical issues or more intra-team shenanigans – and that is something they have yet to crack.
Indirect team orders
Technical issues aside the Italian Grand Prix is still Mercedes’ to lose. Thankfully the dust has settled on the allegations and trial by media of Spa. The outcome however will be fascinating. In theory we should expect a more circumspect Rosberg by virtue of his admission of culpability and the critics waiting to apportion blame if there is another coming together. That is a real shame, as it will likely coincide with Hamilton realising it is time to throw caution to the wind. Hamilton and Rosberg going maximum attack on the track is what F1 deserves. Mercedes’ resolution of matters could, in effect, be more restrictive than any direct team orders would have been.
Silly season has kicked in to high gear with rumours up and down the grid. For some drivers, there are seven races left to keep a seat or find a new one. Jenson Button certainly has to perform and not just on track. Earlier we wrote about Button as one of the drivers who should head off in to the F1 sunset and rumours recently support that. Critical to his future will be proving he can draw a team around him and drive them forward in a similar fashion to his rumoured replacement, Fernando Alonso. Esteban Gutierrez recently remarked on unacceptable performances at Sauber, the subtext implying sponsorship dollars might not be enough to keep his seat. Meanwhile Kevin Magnussen appears to have another season to prove his place at McLaren, with Bottas reportedly close to agreeing a short contract extension at Williams.
As Caterham and Marussia consult a magic 8 ball on which drivers to field during each session this weekend, we have another potentially thrilling F1 weekend in store.