They call it Formula One’s silly season and for good reason. Although the lights have yet to go out on the 2020 season, there is still much to talk about.
A move that may or may not have been surprising, depending on your view point, sees the Scuderia part ways with Sebastian Vettel. The four-time world champion never found a way to drive his Ferrari to a title. He had done so four times as part of the Red Bull Racing team, before joining Ferrari. And now, his career in Formula One is a question mark. Surely there will be phone calls asking about his availability. But will Vettel want to join a team that has little chance to usurp the Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton. Or does retirement loom?
Perhaps a return to Red Bull is possible. But that would mean sending Alex Albon back to Toro Rosso, and in all fairness Albon has looked good in his short stint with Red Bull. Coupled with the fact that Red Bull rarely hires drivers from outside their academy, this may be a far-fetched possibility. Vettel though, remains the most successful driver in Red Bull’s history. Seeing as he was a part of the Red Bull team, maybe special allowances would be made for his return. It would be the first time Red Bull brought in an outside driver since Mark Weber in 2007. How good of a duo of Vettel and Max Verstappen be.
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Another option, and an even bigger stretch would be Vettel joining the Silver Arrows. They say if you can’t beat them; join them. And as much as a dream team paddock of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel would be a sight to behold, it would mean the jettison of Valtteri Bottas. It would also risk upsetting what are winning ways at Mercedes. Hamilton is eyeing a seventh world championship, and having his former rival join him may put that in peril. Lets not forget the days where Nico Rosberg challenged Hamilton, and beat him to the top spot. It would also be unfair to Bottas, who has been the perfect teammate to Hamilton since joining from Williams.
Ferrari chose to acquire the services of Carlos Sainz. Leaving Daniel Ricciardo aside. Traditionally, Ferrari have gone with veteran pilots – but that mold now seems all but shattered. Having selected young Charles Leclerc to replace Kimi Raikkonen for the 2019 season. Meaning Ferrari will now have two drivers aged 25 or younger. Sainz brings a wealth of experience despite his young age, and will surely fit well within the Ferrari team. Following that, Ricciardo reacted by putting pen to paper on a deal that moves him from Renault to rival McLaren.
This leaves Renault with an empty seat. Perhaps marking the return of Nico Hulkenburg to their paddock. Then there is another former Renault driver looking to return to the discipline, in former two-time champion Fernando Alonso. Both of his wins came while a member of the Renault team. Having brought in Esteban Ocon, Renault had hoped to prove to Ricciardo, that the car would be much improved for 2020. Of course, there has yet to be a race this season to prove that. Could Vettel be a fit for the Renault team then? If Renault are serious about a return to their heyday, Vettel is the obvious choice. Whether or not Vettel is on the same page, however, becomes the question.
Perhaps it all comes down to what Red Bull decide to do. If they choose to stand pat with Albon or if they feel a more seasoned veteran is needed. And if that does become the case, do they move to bring Vettel back. Or do they look to Fernando Alonso or perhaps even Nico Hulkenberg to fill that role. We could possibly even talk about a seat for Bottas here.
Despite the lack of on-track action, the so-called silly season has provided some much needed drama for racing fans. All praise be to silly season. For giving us something to talk about and ponder.