Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Torque Points - Germany 2012

By Jem Ruggera     

The news of Mark Webber signing with Red Bull for another year fitted a crucial piece into the jigsaw puzzle that is the 2013 driver line-up. For the Milton Keynes based team, it was the obvious move. This is Webber's sixth year with the team, he's driving as well as he ever has, and currently sits second in the drivers standings. Together with Sebastian Vettel, they have driven to all 30 of Red Bull's wins, and with the RB9 looking increasingly impressive there is no reason to think they won't add plenty more to the tally.

As far as 2013 is concerned, the most interesting part of the puzzle now lies with Ferrari. Do they keep Felipe Massa? His struggles over the past few years have been well-documented, and he has found it increasingly difficult to match his team-mate. Things just haven't been the same for him since that nasty crash in Hungary, 2009. Whether that is part of the reason for his struggles is debatable. I think it is more down to the brilliance of a certain Spaniard on the other side of the garage. No, not Jorge Lorenzo...

Alonso leaving Massa behind….again.

Massa is likely to be gone at the end of this year, despite his relative improvement over the last few rounds. But when you consider that Fernando Alonso is leading the championship in the same car with 129 points, Massa’s paltry 23 points are just not contributing enough to the team total. Despite being a driver short, Ferrari still lie second on the table, but with quite a gap to leaders Red Bull and their two handy points-scoring pilots.

Coupled to this likely Ferrari vacancy is the still unresolved question of Lewis Hamilton’s future. He completes a five year contract at the end of 2012, a period of time that thus far has netted him 14 wins and a championship – an amount Hamilton, one suspects, finds a little underwhelming. Since 2008, McLaren have struggled to produce a car worthy of his talent (and let's be honest, there is a considerable amount of it). Last year was a mess for the Brit, and the back-to-back poles that kicked off this season sparked talk of his having sorted his 2011 issues and was in the championship fight from the start.

Lewis leaving another shambolic pit stop…probably

Since then, the Hamilton/McLaren campaign has been a mess. The litany of issues that has affected Hamilton's season has been much written about, as has his commitment issues when talk of re-signing comes up. It is clear that Hamilton has been eyeing other options since at least last year (the less said about his rather strange visit to Red Bull at last years Canadian Grand Prix, the better).

Red Bull was probably never an option, Christian Horner adamant he was happy with his current line-up. Hamilton to partner Alonso at Ferrari seems unlikely to say the least (although 2007 was a very entertaining year!), while Mercedes and Michael Schumacher seem very happy together, and keen to keep things going into 2013.

Options, for Hamilton, are limited. McLaren-Mercedes is still the most likely option, because if they can't agree on a price, where is Hamilton going to go? Force India? Williams? NASCAR? I suspect though, that we may see nothing like Jenson Button's 'multi-year deal.' Sebastian Vettel is out of contract at the end of 2013, and rumours continue to dance around the paddock about an option that Ferrari hold on the German's services. Vettel and Alonso at Ferrari for 2014? Marvellous...

Could they coexist in the same team?

A one or two year deal for Hamilton may be more to his liking. He could continue with the relationship that has been going for well over a decade, but still keep his options open if McLaren continue to fumble title chances.

As for the second seat at Ferrari next year? Step up, Sergio Perez. 

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