Bob McMurray: It’s over bar shouting and whining
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I guess that’s it, then.
With only this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, a quick tour of the Americas and Abu Dhabi still to come, the F1 drivers’ world championship is over.
I guess there is a mathematical possibility of Sebastian Vettel overhauling Lewis Hamilton in the remaining five races but there is also the possibility that Hamilton will be struck by lightning twice (about one in 9 million) or hit by a meteor (about one in 2 million).
There is also the possibility Hamilton will be beaten by fellow Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas but, after the “team” race at Sochi, the odds against that happening are even greater.
What promised to be a second half of the season going out with a bang has instead been close to a walkover by the Mercedes team and Hamilton in particular.
Scuderia Ferrari has spectacularly, but depressingly, found ever more inventive ways of shooting themselves in the foot time and time again.
Surely they are running out of bullets by now?
Both parts of the effort have been to blame, with Sebastian Vettel looking fragile on track, making costly errors and adopting a driving style reminiscent of his days with Red Bull after Daniel Ricciardo proved to be his match.
All this combined with the team strategists often looking as though they were watching another race and a huge drop in performance from the Ferrari SF71H car.
I guess it did not help Vettel much when he realised at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza that he would also now have to start seriously racing against his departing (and Sauber F1 team-bound) team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
So how he is going to cope with his new, young and ambitious team-mate Charles Leclerc in 2019 is anybody’s guess.
The question of driver movements and the futures of some highly talented drivers rumbles on and looks like doing so for some time to come.
Esteban Ocon seems increasingly like the highest profile casualty of this annual merry-go-round with not a seat to be had when the music stops.
He is a talented driver with proven credentials who is recognised as being faster than many on the grid and already, in the opinion of many, a champion in waiting.
That he should not have a seat somewhere, anywhere, for 2019 is an indictment of the current system of big teams snapping up nascent talent and then not having any plan for them to progress.
Ocon, in tandem with newcomer and similarly seat-less George Russell, is a Mercedes-contracted driver and F1 team boss Toto Wolff has been vociferous in his whining that no seats can be found for them in the other nine teams.
Firstly, it is not the responsibility or worry of other teams to cure Mercedes’ problems despite the somewhat arrogant attitude emanating from team HQ in Brackley, UK.
Perhaps if Wolff took a step back for a second and looked at the recent past he may get some clue as to what could have been and perhaps what should have been.
It was and still is, the Mercedes F1 team, together with Ferrari, that leads the “anti-budget cap” and “anti-power unit changes” row that has been going on far too long.
If they had been more accepting of change, more interested in the wellbeing of the sport with an eye to the future instead of being seemingly intent on ring-fencing their own interests, then it could have come to pass that more teams would have joined this utopia of a cheaper and less complicated Formula 1.
Perhaps the sport needs its over-inflated bubble to burst, a recession of sorts, which would then cause the major corporations to back away and let a new, and simple, cost-effective sport rise from those ashes.
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