The focus recently has been on the rumoured overtures to Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Vettel from McLaren. Both drivers are seen as the keys to unlock the 2015 F1 driver market as they decide whether to stick or twist with the new McLaren-Honda experiment.
Alonso & Vettel wait
I wrote a while back about the limited options that faced Alonso even with McLaren’s interest. Much of that still stands true but our focus, as everyone else’s has been, was on a simple Ferrari or McLaren decision. Recently the evolution of that was whether he would jump for 2015, or see out his contract to give both Ferrari and McLaren-Honda a year to prove themselves before deciding on 2016. Developments on the eve of the Italian Grand Prix have however opened up a further dimension.
Work together or leave
Toto Wolff issued a very public and robust warning to Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton; work together for the good of the team or find yourself elsewhere. Whilst Rosberg has been painted by many – the British media in particular – as the nefarious villain of the Spa incident, he is the driver at Mercedes with the recently extended contract. Logically, if relations deteriorate further it is Hamilton that would be heading for the exit. With Vettel and Alonso on contracts that conclude next season, it may now have become the case that Mercedes are actually who both are waiting for.
An alternative scenario
Should Hamilton leave at the end of 2015 (or perhaps sooner), the Brit opens up F1’s most sought-after seat. Mercedes are entering their ‘era’. For the next 2-3 seasons, they will be the car/power-unit package to have just as Red Bull potentially slip in to the trough of their current cycle and Ferrari, again, begin to rebuild. Fernando in particular – who must be conscious of the march of time – would jump at that opportunity.
An alternative scenario
Subsequently a series of domino effect moves could occur: Hamilton to McLaren after Button spends a year working through the Honda growing pains; Alonso to Mercedes to capitalise on their performance and bag those overdue third and fourth titles; Vettel (with more time on his side than Alonso) slides in to Ferrari to spearhead the Mattiacci revolution and prove the ‘only fast in a Newey car’ doubters wrong. Ricciardo becomes the de facto Red Bull team leader, McLaren back up Hamilton with Grosjean or Vandoorne, and Bianchi becomes Ferrari number 2.