future plans, although he admitted at the
Russian GP that he was “unlikely to be
driving a Mercedes-engined car.” That put
the smart money on his return to McLaren
to help develop the all-new Honda power
units. Who he’d replace – 2009 champion
Jenson Button or highly promising rookie
Kevin Magnussen – remained unclear as
we went to press.
Vettel’s surprising decision to leave Red Bull Racing
was a winning ticket for Daniil Kvyat, who’ll graduate
from Toro Rosso to RBR for his sophomore F1 season.
Does this mean Jean-Eric Vergne can stay at STR to
partner rookie Max Verstappen? Apparently not.
Vettel pulls the plug, Alonso takes the Fifth and McLaren leaves its drivers guessing...
While the Mercedes team has made
competition for race wins in F1 this year
largely a battle between teammates, the
competition for next year’s seats – aka
silly season –≠ is hotter than ever.
The continued struggles of Ferrari (see
chart, BELOW) steadily whittled away at
the once-ironclad relationship between
the Scuderia and Fernando Alonso, and
reached an evident – if unconfirmed –
breaking point in early October. But the
two-time World Champion’s status as F1’s
biggest free agent was thrown into doubt
when four-time and defending champ
Sebastian Vettel announced that he was
leaving his team at the end of the year.
The abrupt end to one of F1’s most
successful partnerships followed the
revelation earlier this year that design
genius Adrian Newey was stepping back
from a day-to-day role with Red Bull Racing.
That, along with Renault’s as yet unproven
ability to bridge the large performance
gap between its power units and those of
Mercedes, were surely two of the main
factors that lured Vettel toward the exit.
Seb did not reveal where his new F1
home would be, although Ferrari was the
only obvious prospect. The blogosphere
went into overdrive, with rumors of
contract offers in the $80m range.
Alonso, too, seemed to enjoy leading
the more excitable members of the press
corps on wild goose chases about his
Fernando Alonso and Ron Dennis fell out
in a major way during the Spaniard’s single
season at McLaren in 2007, a year which
ended in the McLaren/Ferrari “Spygate”
debacle. Seven years on, Ron mischievously
suggested he wouldn’t be averse to Alonso
or Lewis Hamilton returning to McLaren
in 2015. Hmmm… Presumably not both,
though. Once was enough, we suspect.
12 FALL 2014
The three World Champions now vying (we think!) for seats had significantly
varying results – until 2014: Vettel (blue), Alonso (red) and Button (gray).
through 2014 Japanese GP (round 15 of 19)
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
1 2 20 000 3 3