The Formula One circus emerges this week from the enforced 3-week shut-down, with Ferrari looking to turn things around following two straight defeats by Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. The next race, at the legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, will be an important one in the title race.
Ferrari had gone into the previous two rounds as favourites, only to see circumstances conspire against them and Hamilton take two crucial victories. In the points tables, Hamilton now has a 24-point lead over Sebastian Vettel in the driver’s championship, while the constructor’s table sees Mercedes ahead of Ferrari by a mere 10 points.
One major item of the past few weeks has been the story about the Force India team being put into administration, and subsequently rescued by a consortium involving none other than Lawrence Stroll, the Canadian businessman who is father of Lance Stroll, current Williams F1 driver.
This has led to speculation that Lance Stroll would jump ship immediately to Force India – a far more competitive proposition at present than Williams – but no news has been forthcoming on that front. As of the time of writing, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon will race for Force India in Belgium.
McLaren, Alonso and Sainz
A further major news item broke when McLaren and Fernando Alonso announced that the Spaniard, a twice former world champion, will not race in Formula One next season. His place at the team will be taken by countryman Carlos Sainz, who is currently with Renault. The second McLaren seat – currently occupied by Stoffel Vandoorne for whom Spa is his home race – has yet to be confirmed, with names such as Vandoorne, Ocon and Lando Norris – the young Briton – being mentioned.
The impact of the Alonso announcement on the driver market will be strongly felt, as there are now seats open at McLaren, and Red Bull, where Pierre Gasly is expected to take the seat vacated by Daniel Ricciardo.
At Ferrari, the word had been that young Charles Leclerc was signed to drive in place of Kimi Raikkonen next season, but there is much speculation now that the team will keep the veteran Finn for one extra year.