Rumours continue to swirl in F1 land, as silly season closes in
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There is always something to talk about in the Formula 1 paddock.
A hotbed of gossip and tittle-tattle, he-said and she-said, rumours flying around with many of them self-started just to see what reaction they trigger.
No one is above this sort of ploy, be they drivers, engineers, mechanics or team principals. Sometimes a home-made rumour is a good way to find out your own personal worth in a team, or to cast your name about, anonymously, and see what the landscape for future employment is like.
The biggest talking point in the paddock has been the long saga around the McLaren-Honda partnership. As I write this, I hope that saga may have already come to a final solution. It will be painful whatever the outcome.
As in any separation, it will be painful for both parties and indeed the pain will be felt throughout the Formula 1 village.
If there should be no separation, the pain will come from a continued struggle to attain success, perhaps without one of the star drivers on the grid involved.
I have my own thoughts about what should happen, but I have about as much influence on events as I do on each week's successful Lotto numbers or indeed my own wife's credit card.
The relationship so far, after almost three seasons, has been nothing less than an embarrassing disaster and has threatened to bring one of the greatest teams to compete in Formula 1 to its knees.
Though totally understanding the reasons for McLaren's desire to sever the Honda relationship for engine supply, I still cannot accept the Japanese company, with its heritage in competition, the resources available to it, the seeming willingness and absolute need to go racing, the undoubted talent in engineering staff, cannot and will not ultimately deliver a race-winning power unit.
I would imagine that somewhere in the management of McLaren there are those who fear that Honda, should they not stay with the team, will soon find the solution to both the performance and reliability issues that have plagued the partnership, but with another partner.
That success will then benefit whichever new team they are with and leave McLaren with nothing more than a barren memory of frustration and years of wasted time and money, while the fruits of this dismal "dark age" will be harvested by rivals.
Like any difficult relationship, to stay or to bale, to endure or to cut the ties, the decision is, or has been, both emotional and practical, especially when one partner desperately wants to stay in the relationship and the other has simply had enough.
However important that situation is for those involved, the Formula 1 season, currently 20 Grands Prix long, continues and can be divided into three separate sections.
Part one is the "pre-European" section, part two is "Europe" with a short holiday thrown in, and part three is the seven-race, world tour, "fly-away" section.
The final part begins in Singapore next weekend -- and hopefully the main focus will be on the actual racing.
Can Max Verstappen complete a competitive race? Will the Force India duo of Sergio Perez and new boy Esteban Ocon, major players in their own version of "Team-mate Wars", get through the weekend without bouncing off each other?
Will Romain Grosjean get through the weekend without complaining, and will Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen behave? Will two McLaren cars finish the race, possibly even in the points? Will the penalty points system make qualifying irrelevant once again?
More importantly, how will the fascinating ongoing battle between Mercedes and Ferrari, Hamilton and Vettel, develop?
It is an exciting battle for supremacy and a fight that fans have wanted to see for some time so it should be the main focus of the weekend, certainly on the track.
But in the paddock those rumours will still be circulating, for you cannot keep a good rumour down.
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