Bob McMurray: Fascinating moves in Formula 1
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The 2018 Formula 1 season resumes this weekend at one of the world’s most beautiful, demanding and unpredictable circuits, the Circuit De Spa
Francorchamps in the Ardennes forests of Belgium.
And the various teams remind me of boys’ boarding schools.
The classes, form masters and students remain much the same. But some, notably Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz, have decided they want a new house, with a new head teacher next term and will be joining a new classroom for 2019.
One former head boy is leaving his school as his class has failed to achieve grades he expected.
Some good news as well for French boy Pierre Gasly, who seems to have passed his exams and progressed from intermediate to “big boys” school.
At the time of writing, those four boys are the only ones to have announced their intentions to change allegiance. But the playground is awash with the boys’ guardians frantically searching for the best deal or the best prospectus.
Some guardians are simply trying to keep their boys from being expelled.
In the meantime there are still nine examinations to go until the year ends.
It is a fascinating time in F 1.
This year it seems the driver market is in a much greater state of flux than for a long time and those driver movements are by no means over yet.
Conceivably, with Alonso giving up on Formula 1, maybe temporarily if you believe what he says, it will further spur the team principals and the sports owners to realise the time for change is here.
Especially when Alonso says, “The action on track is not the one I dreamed of when I joined F1, or when I was in different series, or the action on track that I experienced in other years. I stopped because the action on track, in my opinion, is very poor. In fact, what we talk about more in F1 is off track.
“We talk about polemics. We talk about radio messages. We talk about all these things, and when we talk so many times about those things, it is a bad sign.
“There are other series that maybe offer better action, more joy and more happiness, so that is what I try to find.”
If that is not a clarion call for revolution, from a two-time World Champion, I don’t know what is.
If Alonso had been having a good season with the new McLaren/Renault partnership and if he felt he had a winning car, I am sure he would not be leaving.
In fact he has said that should the performance of McLaren improve, he could well consider returning to the team.
His manager, the flamboyant, once-disgraced and banned from Formula 1, Flavio Briatore, is quoted as saying about Alonso: “It makes no sense for him to be seventh or eighth.”
So, what to make of his departure?
He was trapped in an under-performing team, for the fourth season, with no route out.
With his perceived “baggage” of political manipulation, no top performing team wanted a bar of him and there seemed no possibility to his of driving a McLaren that could be a regular podium contender.
Alonso has been called “indispensable” to F 1 but the quote by former French president Charles de Gaulle comes to mind: “The graveyards are full of indispensable men”.