Fans wondered if the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix was a snore-fest. In my view, it absolutely wasn’t. We had two of the fastest drivers on the grid (sorry, Fernando) fighting for top honours in two of the fastest cars on the grid on different tyre strategies. But this is the view of the purist, not one that would necessarily make the cut for the millennial fan.
Mithila Mehta and I have partnered with Firstpost for the 2017 Formula 1 Season and will feature in their Firstpost Pole Position videos all through the season. Basically, we’re now available in text, audio and video!
Hamilton’s 200th race, 58th win and he is now in pursuit of two more Formula 1 records. First and slightly more easier, would be winning his 4th Drivers’ Championship this year and equalling Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel’s record. Second, would be nearing on Schumacher’s race wins record of 91. He already equalled his pole position record of 68 this weekend at Spa. After being given an Ayrton Senna helmet at Silverstone, was he hoping for a Michael Schumacher helmet at Spa? All he had to contend with was a verbal message from the Schumacher family conveyed by Ross Brawn.
Sebastian Vettel would’ve left Spa with a smile on his face. At the circuit where the Mercedes were expected to dominate, he finished 2nd to Hamilton – but it could’ve been far worse had Ferrari’s updates not worked. Hamilton’s claim that Ferrari has the faster car might seem like him playing mind games, but there were instances when the Ferrari did look quicker in the race. However, Bottas’ P5 and being 41 points adrift in the Drivers’ Championship could mean that Mercedes might request him to play wingman to Hamilton.
The Force India Civil War
The Force India drivers have been evenly matched at every race this season. Esteban Ocon has replaced Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India setup like a fish takes to water. Has this been a spot of bother for Sergio Perez? Or is the fact that the top team doors are shut for yet another season bothering Perez? Would another year with Force India lead to stagnation for Perez? Or will he finally consider moving to Renault for next season, who already may have Robert Kubica and Fernando Alonso as added options? Whatever it is, Perez’s moves on Ocon were dangerous, especially the second one. I am surprised that he went unpunished by the FIA. Moreover, the civil war cost the team yet another double points finish!
The Force India team management were quick to announce a ‘not allowed to race anymore’ ruling post-race. In fact, on the Monday after the race, the team also suggested that should such behaviour persist, they could even consider a race ban for their errant driver. Both the rulings aren’t great news for the drivers, the team and their legion of fans.
But are Force India treating Sergio Perez differently given the millions he’s bringing in sponsorship? A few tweets that quoted Otmar Szafnauer indicated that the team pitted Perez earlier so that he could undercut Ocon and come out ahead on-track. However, the team (Szafnauer in particular) did the correct thing by blaming Perez for his misbehaviour. Let’s hope normalcy restores in the Force India garages soon enough.
Fernando Alonso To Force India?
Let’s face it, apart from Alonso and his management, no one knows what his options for the 2018 Formula 1 Season are. Red Bull Racing and Ferrari certainly aren’t one and I would highly doubt that Mercedes would disturb their well-settled driver pairing of Hamilton and Bottas. Williams seem to have thrown in their hat in Alonso’s ring too, but despite being a Mercedes engine customer, the team’s lack of pace and development this season would bother Alonso.
But could Force India be one of Alonso’s options for 2018? The team has long been the ‘best of the rest’ on the grid. They are comfortable in 4th place and do look to challenge Red Bull Racing every now and then. Unlike Williams, Force India has made better use of their Mercedes engine to build a fast car. Agreed that the Force India car might not have him fighting for wins, but there could definitely be a few podiums on the way. And finally, if Honda do figure their mess out in 2018, Alonso could head back to Mclaren. Yes, crazy thought, but why not.
Also, with a team like Force India, it might be easier to plan and get them to agree on his parallel racing career in America.
Why Would Force India Hire Alonso Only For A Year?
Force India’s never had a former World Champion driver in their cockpit. Alonso would be a great point of reference for the team and would definitely lift the image of the team in the paddock. Although the Force India car is full of sponsors, Alonso’s signing might just attract a few more (Santander, anyone?). The other punt for Force India would be, if Ferrari and Mercedes still don’t hire Alonso’s services in 2019 and should Honda still fail to deliver (odds are that they might!), then there’s a good chance that Alonso might just stay longer! (Read: Alonso: Motorsport’s Most Disruptive Force)
Also, given the civil war in the team, there’s a good chance that either one of the current drivers will choose to move on, in which case, there might just a natural vacancy to hire Alonso.
Okay, enough of my wishful thoughts. Hope you enjoyed the Firstpost Pole Position video from the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix.