July 19, 2015
F1 silly season in full swing
There have been media reposts a deal has been reached which would bring Valterri Bottas to Maranello to replace Kimi Raikkonen. The deal would see Ferrari paying Williams a rather astounding €12 Million / $13 Million to Williams for the remainder of the Finn's contract.
While there has been some disappointment over Raikkonen's inconsistency, the idea Ferrari would give a direct rival a similar cash injection is odd.
Raikkonen would likely have been offered a one year contract, Bottas has one year left in his contract with Williams. There are big rule changes on the horizon for 2017.
Why not wait one more season with Kimi and get Bottas at a 12 million discount?
It's possible Raikkonen is not willing to accept a 1 year contract, forcing Ferrari's hand. Also it's quite possible Bottas would agree to drive for Ferrari for a nominal sum in the first year.
Bottas has been out shined, in the most recent races, by Massa a driver Ferrari cut and having this Finn rather than the current one will not get Ferrari any closer to Mercedes.
On the plus side Bottas has shown to be consistent and drama free, two qualities that would fit well in the long term plan to take the Scuderia back to the top of the sport. Today,
More worrying for the future of the red team is the yet unsigned contract renewal with James Allison. Allison is one of the top men in the sport whose beneficial influence on the Scuderia since his return is undeniable .
He has yet to design a car from scratch, the 2015 car is a compromise necessitated by lack of resources: time and some say, financial commitment. 2016 will be his car.
But the top brass at FCA is unhappy despite this year's improvements. Perhaps some in the boardroom are dreaming of landing Adrian Newey for the full out attack in 2017. Perhaps it's a pressure tactic.
What it looks like from the outside is that Ferrari is panicking rather than working methodically as Mercedes did.
Odd because Marchionne has been clever in pushing through the development freeze loophole this past off season. It allowed Ferrari to make significant gains in engine power after the initial engine compromise, slave to a design philosophy which put a premium on aero efficiency with smaller radiators which in turn meant less power could be extracted from the Power Unit, at significant deficit.
Other silly season rumors, contingent on Bottas' joining Ferrari, have Nasr bringing his €18M sponsorship to Williams the €30M windfall next year more than making up for the comic confusion any future "Feleipe is faster than you " message tha might come up
Nasr's seat at Sauber would be filled by Ferrari reserve Gutierrez.
Hulkenberg remains the odd man out with no top team interested. James Allen wrote today:
"Detailed analysis of his on track performance data by the engineers, which Williams management will be studying now, as all the teams do, shows that while he has his moments of magic, he’s not at the level of a Bottas or a Ricciardo"
Hulkenberg could stay at Force India or join Haas.
All this is contingent on what happens with Kimi. It's important to realize this talk has been driven by some in the Italian media who have decided Raikkonen must go now.
Ferrari for their part are denying as you might expect they would but I would not necessarily stick a fork in Kimi yet.