Behind the scenes at Mercedes – readers discuss F1 and Rosberg’s replacement
Innovation
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  03 Dec 2016   |  12:22 pm GMT  |  194 comments

Yesterday’s announcement that Nico Rosberg was retiring from Formula 1 sent shockwaves through the sport and it also occurred just as our lucky JA on F1 readers were enjoying a tour of the Mercedes factory in Brackley.

The tour was a competition prize courtesy of our partner Tata Communications, via its F1 Connectivity Innovation prize, which featured an in-depth look at Mercedes’ F1 headquarters.

After stopping off at the team’s ever-expanding trophy cabinet we were taken past the Race Strategy Room – where Lewis Hamilton’s engineer Pete Bonnington and Rosberg’s former engineer Tony Ross were working away – above the vast machine shop, and then through to the carbon composites area and product assessment rooms.

merc-trophies

The tour finished at the team’s racebays, where the very monocoque that Hamilton had used throughout 2016 and had taken to victory less than a week earlier in Abu Dhabi was resting after it had been stripped down.

Over a lunch a short time later, we asked our guests a few questions about the 2016 F1 season and their thoughts on the future direction of the sport.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-11-54-15

Q: Who would you pick as your top five drivers of 2016?

Gemma Russell (above): I’d probably put Hamilton first because I think he’s more exciting to watch as a racer, and then I’d say Nico because he won. Then Verstappen, for similar reasons to Hamilton – he’s always good to watch. Then Ricciardo and I’d probably go for Perez too, as he’s good to watch too and is a good racer.

Adrian Wolfson: Nico first, since he won. Then Hamilton, Verstappen, Ricciardo and Alonso.

Guy Osborn: I’d put Alonso first for always putting in a good performance at McLaren, no matter what, and despite his comments on the cars. Then Nico Hulkenberg for what he is going to be doing next year, then Hamilton for his end of year performances, Verstappen for what he’s done since the start of this year, and also Ricciardo for his performances.

Lindsay Scott: You’ve got to put Lewis first. Verstappen is second because he has got what it takes and I can’t wait to see him in the future. Then Ricciardo, Wehrlein and probably Hulkenberg because he’s earned Force India more money again.

Javier Jiminez: Verstappen has had the most exciting year, Hamilton – because I think he is the quickest. Then Nico, who needs everything properly in place to win. Sainz has made another great year, and Perez too.

Brian Marsh: I think Nico has to be the driver of the year because he won and held it together under pressure at the end. Second is Verstappen for changing teams and because he’s a massively exciting new talent, and then Alonso for outperforming his car. Then Wehrlein, for being good at the back, and then Gutierrez because he went to a new team and showed Grosjean how to take that car. Those last three are all pretty much level.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-11-56-55
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the 2017 season?

Adrian (above): I want Lewis to win and I want it to be just a lot of fun, with a lot of close racing.

Gemma: I’m really hoping that more teams like Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren are a lot closer together with Mercedes, and that there is a lots of better racing.

Guy: Hamilton’s new teammate! And how McLaren performs next year with Honda.

Lindsay: It will be interesting to see how Adrian Newey does with the aero on the Red Bull, which should bring them into the frame with Mercedes. Winter testing might be pretty interesting.

Javier: I would like to see ten cars within one second of the ultimate pace, at least by the end of the year. At the beginning it’s not going to happen because the cars will be really spread out, but I would like to see them close up.

Brian: I’m most looking forward to a competitive Red Bull because I want to see Verstappen and Lewis fighting.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-12-10-50
Q: Do you think Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso will win another F1 world title?

Lindsay (above): I would say there is a chance for the both of them, depending on who Lewis’ new teammate is.
Adrian: Yes. It’s hard, but Vettel is more likely.

Gemma: I would say possibly not for Vettel, and maybe Alonso, yes. I think he’s still got the hunger and I’m not sure about Vettel.

Guy: Vettel, no. Alonso, yes if McLaren can put a good car out there.

Javier: I don’t think they are going to win again.

Brian: Neither. Unfortunately I think McLaren has too many problems. It’s losing sponsors, hasn’t got enough money and will not make the most of a good future Honda engine.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-12-08-42
Q: What should be Liberty Media’s first priority for F1?

Javier (above): I would solve the tyres. I think the tyres have to be more consistent and they have to be able to be pushed to the limit.

Adrian: Make it free for everyone to watch on TV.

Gemma: I think they should try and share the funds among the teams a bit better if they can because then perhaps we’ll have better racing.

Guy: I’d say the same – but with more British tracks on the calendar.

Lindsay: They should try and get the prices down for the spectators. Prices are way beyond a lot of people’s reach now [and] although they say general admission is ok, if they want to fill the stands they’ve got to bring it down.

Brian: I think there should be more emphasis on mechanical over aero such that it creates more overtaking and more interest. DRS is fake, they need to find a mechanical way to achieve what DRS has done.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-12-11-07
Q: Can Mercedes win back-to-back championships over two different sets of F1 rules?

Brian (above): Yes, they’ve got the best engine and it will still be the best engine next year.

Adrian: I think they can.

Gemma: Yes.

Guy (below): With the infrastructure they have, yes.

Lindsay: Yes.

Javier: Yes, they have had the time to prepare the car. They haven’t been pushed to the end of this year so I’m sure they have been able to move resources over for next year.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-12-10-59

What do you make of our panel discussion? Do you agree or disagree with their opinions? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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194 comments

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1

Did any of the Mercedes staff tell you what they think of Rosberg's retirement and how they see next year going?

2

I just noticed something about Brian photo above.

Either his barber missed a stray hair, or he's got something on his mind! 🙂

3

I just want Kimi to break that record of 20 wins for a Finnish F1 driver currently shared between himself and Hakkinen . James I have a feeling next year will be Kimi's swan song and I hope it is a nice one.

5

Jorge Lorenzo is not a newbie. He races at equivalent level on a bike... It's not like you or I getting in the car!

6

All pie in the sky unless we are told his actual lap times. Saying that, a superstar like Lorenzo was always likely to find it "easy" compared with your average Joe so it would be no real surprise if he was a natural. He may be an F1 newbie but he's hardly a fish out of water.

7

can a newlie do it at the speeds hamilton does it?

8

Yes they can, but would come second in the championship.
Now, to match Rosberg's speed to come first in WC, that's a whole
different ball game.

9

Ha ha, what speed? The team principals who deal in hard statistics, assess the drivers as if they are signing them by factoring in mechanical misfortunes ,ranked Lewis the best driver,2016 . You don't loose a 43 points lead,despite having no mechanical problems if you have superior speed. Rosberg knows he was lucky. No wonder he referred to lewis as one of the greatest drivers of all time.

10

Brilliant...

11

like this?

no worries

12

It saddened me to read Lorenzo's take on F1 as well. He said it was easier than driving an F2 car because of the power stearing and all the gizmos. When they asked him if he thought an F1 driver could get up to speed on a MotoGP bike, he just kind of laughed. So much truth there.

He aslo said MotoGP hands down has the bigger balls, due to the risk. When you fall, your body is the chassis. And they haven't had a single discussion about putting a man-kini 👙 on the front.

Side note, Sebee I thought of you when I watched this. Have you seen the Fezzas on the banking at Daytona yet????
http://www.motorsport.com/ferrari/video/main-gallery/f1-clienti-under-the-lights-at-daytona-79451/

13

Twitch perhaps you shouod stick to Moto GP and do us all a favour from sonding like a granny in a rocking chair 😁. So you've been checking Ball sizes then 😨😨😨😨 doubt whether Lorenzo has bigger balls . Have you seen the size of him? A Grand National Jockey would have bigger balls .
Lorenzo has to go through puberty before that happens 😄
Now Rossi that's a guy (Italian hand gestures ) that's da guy with the bigger balls !! 😨😨😄

14

It's funny that to hear anything close to what F1 should sound like fans have to go to a free F1 demo using a V8 era car, or to a Clienti day. It is clear these engines aren't what F1 engines were in those cars, but it still sounded better than this. GP2 cars sound oh so so much better, it's so funny.

When I need my dose I fall back to this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mHkfCmoMVs

1:31, 3:20 onwards and 4:33 clips are particularly nice. But I really let it just hum in the background. One of these days I'm going to just MP3 this video, and loop it during a GP. Sure, it will be like chewing gum with a wrapper, but it is what they have left us with.

Oh...for those of you who are 1 degree of F1 black belt above me and need V12 sound, I support you fully, and regularly enjoy this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SoZiTxdQyw
I don't even watch it anymore. I just let the sound play on a hidden tab.

15

but he couldn't drive it st the speeds f1 drivers do so it couldn't have been easy.
i will only accept it if he can lap as fast as hamilton. he should learn to tell the truth..

16

@Aveli, fair point I suppose, but let's look at the context.

With 1 day in a simulator and 1 day on the track, Lorenzo got aap time within X percent of a pro driver like Lewis or Nico, correct? I don't know what his actual lap times would be.

Now, let's flip the scenario. Put Lewis on a MotoGP sim for a day (does that even exist??), and then put him on a bike for a day, and see if Lewis can get within that same percentage on the bike that Jorge got to in the car.

My prediction, until the next Surtees comes along, that's just not going to happen.

Think about this. Lorenzo has a signed contract with Ducatti ne t year. They have a lot riding on Lorenzo, and if he gets hurt, their program is screwed. Yet they still let him drive an F1 car.

Can you imagine MB allowing Lewis to ride a MotoGP bike, at speed, for a day? You know what kind of risk that involves?

THAT is why Lorenzo is absoltely correct when he says MotoGP riders have much bigger balls. Sure F1 cars might be "difficult" to control on the limit - guess what, so are MotoGP bikes. The difference is that when you go over the limit, on a bike, your body takes most of the impact, as opposed to the car.

18

are you serious? pure prejudice!
why don't you wait until hamilton tests a moto gp bike before concluding?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86lQaRq5N4U

19

Jochen Rindt, 1970 German GP, after winning the race in his Lotus 72: "A trained ape could have won in that car, it was that good."

Where's Jezza when you need him? The only issue is the Big Ape, being a Big Ape, is 6 foot 5 inches tall, and that's without shoes and helmet. I don't think there is an extra long chassis built for 6'5' orangutan's. Pity that.......

20

Interesting, and in complete contrast to Richard Hammond, who just could not cope with the mid 2000s Renault f1 car.

Plus Lewis insists that driving these cars on the limit is very difficult, and that's something that Lorenzo did not manage.

Still, I feel that these cars are so well built, so beautifully balanced, and with such predictable aero, that they should have 1500 bhp, at least. And this is easily achievable with the current PUs without the fuel-flow limit.

So right there we have a simple thing that could make f1 better but which nobody is prepared to touch because of some pseudo-environmental ideology, which can't be reconciled with the aims of F1 as an entertainment franchise, anyway.

21

While F1 is pseudo environmental, it is good to know that all this awesome PU technology is finding it's way to AMG road flagship products, like this one:

http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2018-mercedes-amg-e63-e63-s-first-drive-review

Actually, never mind. That's another AMG V8 product, still no AMG hybrid available to buy. Still no Mercedes AMG product with anything from this PU. So while we put up with this PU fluff in F1, it is more obvious then ever that it's all some marketing image effort and completely not road relevant.

22

Not only is it not road relevant, it's also irreconcilable with Liberty Media's aims, which is to transform f1 into the worlds leading commercial sport ENTERTAINMENT franchise.

23

may be 1500bhp with the current tyres and aero would level the performance field and further increase the relevance of the driver.

24

The 2017 cars are going to be more aero dependent, I 'd imagine. That usually leads to more aft turbulence. That, in turn, leads to less overtaking as the risk of being upset by this extra turbulence is higher than that of the 2016 cars, accept when DRS is activated.
(The 2017 cars have no DRS, so their turbulence is omni-present.) This new situation is bound to limit competitive challenges, I think. And maybe, just maybe this caused Nico Rossberg to re- think defending his world title?

25

The last answer to JA' question says it all. Mercs had more time to prepare for 2017 than anyone else. Because, while everyone was playing catch up, Mercs weren't even pushing as hard, they have the money, they have some of highest paid engineers in the world and most of all no matter how aero dependent next year is, the horsepower advantage is guaranteed to suit the Mercs in most track. So, next year the Mercs not winning at least 15-18 races will be a shock. Writings are on the wall already.

As far as Nico's decision is concerned, I liked that you used the word "maybe". Because, if you don't take the person's word for it, your guess will always be as good as anyone else's. One thing is clear that money wasn't the factor behind his decision as he just let go of tens of millions of dollars over the next 12 months alone by this decision. I choose to respect his statement, his entire family sacrificed over the last 25 years, his wife taking care of their daughter while he was traveling around the world. Now it's his time to sacrifice, which is to say goodbye to his F1 career.

26

overtaking is not only about wake. if the driver behind understands the characteristics of wake, they can get close enough like we saw hamilton's demonstration of that behind verstappen..

27

I love it that a driver needs to be able to understand the wake of the car and adapt his driving tactic/technique accordingly in order to effect an overtake. Fascinating.

28

Is it really true that there will be no drs in 2017? If so F1 will probably see much less overtaking. I would like to see the racing to be as exciting as the qualifying and the start into turn one. It's a shame in countries that have to pay to see this.

MB should maintain an advantage because the engine is the same. Maybe Red Bull has a chance just maybe. I have watched F1 since the 70s and I have never seen a team with the dominace of MB these past 3 years.

We want change!

29

Red Bulls cars were just as dominant, but they didn't have the drivers to exploit them.

30

Wow, you've really dropped the ball in the weeds with this comment Andrew. Of course the 2017 cars will have DRS. Who told you otherwise?

Also can we please stop it with the anxieties that there will be less overtaking. All they've done is made the rear wing a few centimetres wider, a bit lower, and there will be a bit more Air blowing out of the diffuser. Hardly earth shattering stuff.

On the plus side the wider tyres and wider front wing should enable the cars to follow more closely through the slow corners, and these are often crucial for setting up overtakes. Not that we're all starved for overtakes. Personally I would like overtaking to be a bit more difficult and slightly rarer. There is, after all, such a thing as too much of a good thing.

31

LukeC there is no such thing as too much of a good thing. More passing on track please?

But thanks for putting 2017 into perspective. The only thing that worries me is an engineer finding some massive advantage even though the rules are designed for the wake to be less of a problem because in theory more downforce can be created with less wake but reality suggests the tires will create more in 2017. The rear wing is lower though suggesting drafting may even happen. I guess will see.

32

@jdr, I really miss watching a driver really have to sweat to get past another. You don't get a lot of this if overtaking is very easy you see.

33

Lol the tires are a huge part of what causes the turbulence. Wider tires = more turbulence. Ask any F1 engineer what they could do to make the cars more aero Effecient, the number 1 answer you get from everyone is "cover the wheels".

In order to be competative, the front wing will need to generate massive downforce. Put that in dirty air, and the % of overall car performance lost will be greater than it is today.

There's a reason people like Lewis Hamilton have spoken out against the new regs. I'll take his word that "nothing will change" over your's that "it'll all be good" any day.

34

@Twitch Hamilton and Mercedes don't want changes, especially for the aero to become a bigger part of the equation, because they don't want Adrian Newey to erode their advantage.

Have you noticed how Red Bull were pushing for those changes and Mercedes were trying to bulk them?

I recently saw an interview with Pat Symmonds and at least he was honest enough to admit they they simply don't have a clue as to what's really going on with regard to wake and what would make it easier for cars to get close to each other.

Let that sink in. We've been putting up with these ugly, f3 cars for seven years now for no good reason.

At the end of the day not every f1 race will be a Monza 71 type affair, and therefore we need cars that are difficult to drive and spectacular to watch. Otherwise why not watch formula ford, or forumula v. Lots of overtaking there, usually.

35

@ andrew.....No DRS in 2017! Where did you get that from?

36

Correction, DRS effect will be different in 2017. (The predictive spelling got ahead of me, didn't spot it until published.)

37

(The 2017 cars have no DRS, so their turbulence is omni-present.)

Predictive text wrote the whole sentence for you??

38

How will it be different? The driver behind will get less drag, and with it some extra speed, and he will blow by the driver ahead.

39

I don't suppose any of our lucky brothers and sisters noticed a long que of suspicious looking young men in fake beards dropping of applications?!

40

What is worse: Hamilton refusing team order, or Rosberg not fulfilling his contract? Was he allowed to say, "I quit!" spontaneously, on short notice?

41

Anyone that follows modern F1, knows that contract has a lot clauses to get out of for both parties. That is why most drivers still use lawyers to read through everything before signing stuff. Nico & Lewis both negotiated their own contract last time around. However, they had enormous amount of legal advice throughout the process.

And yes, you can auit any job no matter what job it is. It depends on the country and the company policy. In Australia, you don't even have to give a reason to quit a job as long as you give your employer 30 days notice. In most cases employers accept the resignation and let you go early if you want to. On the other hand, the employer need to provide enough support to a underperforming employee before sacking them unless there's a significant evidence of breach of policy/harassment/bullying/discrimination etc. from the employee's part. In that case the employer can sack someone on the spot. There are lot of things in place that allow both parties to make independent decisions. In Nico's case, he has given Mercedes plenty of notice from an employment point of view. We are still more than three and a half months away from the first race of 2017 season.

In other point you mentioned about Lewis rejecting the team order in the last race, it really depends on how Mercedes manages this going forward. In my job as a banker, if I said I will go against any company policy, I will most likely be given 30 days notice, if not fired on the spot. Only Mercedes knows what their rules are internally and what consequences (if any) Lewis might face.

42

Thanks!

43

I don't know but when I retired it was on short notice. It cost me money but money isn't everthing. When you are done that's it. Maybe Rossberg will change his mind. If not he would make a good broadcaster every now and then. He could do some commercials. He may even go into opera. It's pretty smart when you think about. He can do anything he wants on his own terms.

44

He can be fired, he can quit. Do you have a work contract? Can you quit?

45

Tell us what you think about Rosberg earlier this year saving a drowning child in Monaco (just Google it).

A class act like you will have something to say.

46

I used to like Nico, but not since 2014, for his childish actions in Monaco and Spa.

47

he was never on duty on that contract so it hadn't began, so it was non existent...

48

Ah, you can't be serious.

49

Congrats to winners. You've represented the comment section nicely.

50

I blinked and missed the bit where they discussed Rosberg's replacement...

51

Great comments, these are true passionate fans, very much to my liking.

52

super awesome blog, Alex!!
I do not know of anybody who saw Nico's retirement from F1. history will never rate Nico as the best of his time, but timing and luck, hard work, dedication and a steel-trap mind set have always been a part of sport.
precious few will ever know how much of his heart and soul Nico had to give to achieve his child-hood dream... I applaud him immensely!
many congrats to our new World Driver Champion.
now, entertain us by entering LeMans with Tony Stewart, race in the Daytona 500, the Indy 500, Dakar, the Baja with Robbie Gordon, the ROC, Eldora dirt track... heck, drop into an SCCA Solo ll event! and you gotta do Goodwood and "secretly" test a supercar at the 'Ring 🙂
above all, enjoy life and have fun, Nico.

53

One more thing Nico is best in 2016 and he actually held the record for winning the most races in a career without a WDC. He actually did it against a pretty good driver but not as consistent this year anyhow. But it's over. It's done. All of what could have happened just doesn't matter because it's over. Move on......

54

I think this is a no brainer. The guy that wins is the driver of the year. Rossberg is married and the travel and media probably isn't compatible with being the best you can.

With that being said Alonso Ham MV Perez were more fun to watch.

Sidenote: KR paired with HAM is one I haven't heard. Also I really wish the could have would have would be not commented on anymore. What about 2017 car news? I sure wish someone could get a real picture of a real car soon.

55

Apparently Wolf has said every driver on the grid, apart from Kvyat and Kimi, has contacted him about the MB seat.

56

Well as much you don't like it, NR retiring is the biggest news in F1 right now. I'm sure over time 2017 car will be talked about just as much if not more. Media reports on what the vast majority has opinions about at the time. It's business & right now the topic is NR.

57

Kimi was approached but refused on the grounds that MB have equal driver status. Kimi insisted that he is a #2 driver but MB would hear none of it.

58

Great comment- I agree completely. A nice touch of class.

59

To give Roseberg more credit go and see 2013 stats where in fact the winner in Mercedes duo should have been Nico with more DNFs, more 1st places and losing position to Lewis ordered by Ross. See @anon analysis in previous JAonF1 posting.

60

AlanF1. In 2013 Nico retired from fifth place in the Australian GP and ninth place in both the Hungarian and Chinese GP. This is a likely 14 points lost, but Lewis out scored him by 18 points. Nico won in Monaco, and Lewis won in Hungary. Nico also won the British GP, but only after a puncture dropped Lewis from the lead to fourth, and then Seb retired from the lead with gearbox failure.
I assume you are referring to the Malaysian GP when you talk about Ross ordering Nico to lose positions? Lewis was running third and Nico fourth when it became clear that both cars were critical on fuel and tyre wear and so Ross did the sensible thing and told them to hold station and drive to a lap time that would see them safely to the end of the race. Lewis obeyed the instruction, and Nico ignored it. The only reason we got to hear about what was a routine instruction in the early days of the Pirelli era was because Nico moaned about it so much over the radio.

61

Which race did Ross order Nico to move over and let Lewis past?
If it's the one I am thinking off then that isn't what happened. The Mercs were third and fourth, Lewis ahead and Ross ordered Nico to hold station. It is debatable wether you think Nico could have passed Lewis or not, but you should remember they were both low on fuel and Ross wanted to keep the positions and not take any risks as is common practice in teams that are not title contenders and need all the points they can get for the WCC.

62

Whatever! Nico's DNF's in 2013 were from low positions, and then he inherited the GBR win from first Lewis' blowout, and then Vettel's gearbox failure.

63

he had settled in the team over a 3 year period while his teammate was still learning team members names.

64

Knowing team members names has nothing to do with anything.

65

why do they have names then?

66

So with Lewis 4 years at Mercedes and the new partner still learning names it would be a very undeserved WDC if and only if Lewis wins it.
If the new one wins WDC with all the advantage Lewis had from knowing the team Lewis could loose a lot of reputation.
Please let it be Sutil.

67

I can guarantee you it won't be Sutil! lol
Is he still involved in racing?

68

I've heard Lewis has been campaigning for Timo Glock.

69

Ha! Ha! Nice one.

70

I just laughed so much reading your comment Captain that I needed a drink. Very funny

71

Not unlike verstappen this year! It didn't seem to bother him he does not know everyone's name and has driven immensely.

72

did he beat his teammate then?

73

You mean just like ROS did?

74

keep up with the discussion eric. rosberg wasn't new in the team. to answer your question, yeah
rosberg did comprehensively beat his teammate in 2010, 2011 and 2012. 2016 his was helped by teammate's car failures.

75

Please. Anon seems to have a chip on his shoulder about Hamilton that would sink an Aircraft Carrier. His revision of history with regards to Hamilton, should simply be ignored as the raves of a lunatic.

76

I agree that Lewis is a class act, 3 world championships and still hungry for more? Hates losing and wants to be the best. Like Schuey" but a lot fairer with overtaking? Why Nico is not defending his title is up to him but I think he should have done another year!

77

one went as far as wanting to put his own brother in the wall for a victory.

78

Yep, you are exactly right. It's up to him. We are not standing in his shoes. So, I choose to take his word for it, which was clear as day light. He has achieved what he wanted to achieve, now it's time for him to change nappies instead of his wife doing it everyday. I'm a father & miss my 15 months old daughter like crazy with a 9-5, 5days/week kind of job. I can only imagine what a young F1 driver with a young family goes through with all the fitness, sponsorships commitments, advertising, training, travelling etc. I applaud Nico for making the decision he made. I wish I could do the same. Ask Bianchi's parents, they would rather have their son back in their life over any number of world titles in the world. So, yes a lot of fans would've liked to have seen Nico keep racing because he is an excellent driver and worthy champion in all aspects of racing. A lot Lewis fans wanted Nico to keep driving because they wanted to see Lewis beat Nico to the title & a lot of Nico fans wanted to see Nico to defend and win more than just one title. However, we live through whatever F1 throws at us. That's life.

79

did Schumacher not explain why he celebrated his victory at imola 1994?

80

The Schumacher obsession continues.

82

See that 2016 constructors cup in the photo? It's a very valuable item - it's worth in prize money about 174 Million Euros*...................

*And yet Merc F1 don't get the most prize money despite being champs - despite finishing in 3rd, the Maranello Boys will receive a pay cheque of around 183 Million Euros..........capitalism and prize money, eh? Bonkers!

83

Old argument my friend. We discuss this topic every year, if not every month here over the past decade. Until the next concord agreement, we won't know what's going to happen. We just have to hope for a better racing.

Even though I disagree with most of your comments in this blog, I agree that the capitalism sucks. Wherever you look, riches always get richer. I'm a Ferrari fan and I don't even like the way funds are distributed in F1. You know there's a 100% growth of billionaires in the world over the last decade? China has just over taken USA recently on that list. On the flip side, the number of refugees are at its highest since the Second World War!! What does that tell you?

84

If capitalism sucks, it's because the human race sucks. The homo sapien primate is motivated by self interest, but twas ever thus.........put it like this, apart from Rubihno, I've never seen a driver willingly gave up a race win...........

85

Ferrari will get paid more prize money but what about the intageables? Winning brings better sponser money and help. Also Benz is massive compared to Ferrari which is owned by Fiat. I think Ferrari is not strutured right to win next year a neither is McLaren to take the title in 2017. I hope I am wrong though.

86

How can any serious wfollower of F1 rank Hamilton lower than second, he beat the so-called world champion 10 to 9 on the season.....

87

There is no right or wrong answer here. I will prove it to you why there's no right or wrong answer.

Firstly, because everyone had their own reasons behind the decision. You may disagree with them, but doesn't make it wrong. Secondly, Lewis won less races than Filipe in '08, but still won the championship. So, number of race wins is not the championship decider. Finally, if the numbers are the main factor to determine the talent, Schumacher is the greatest driver of all time. But when you speak to most people in F1, they rank Senna over Schumacher, including Schumacher himself (Quote from the movie "Senna"). So, in my view they are all right including you no matter how it doesn't make any sense to you.

88

Lewis has been consistant for years, I have watched him since he was a child, natural brilliance.

89

brilliance out of this world..

90

You mean, he's been consistent with his whining. When he doesn't win he plays the blame game. Always someone's fault but his own. Classless.

92

Good link. I think Vettel would be very attractive to Mercedes. Lewis would probably like it too — he seems to thrive on in-team rivalry.

Some concerns about favouritism. Vettel is much more, shall we say "expressive", than Rosberg was. This could lead to some big fights inside Merc. But as long as the media don't go completely bananas over, it that might not be a bad thing.

93

vettel wants number one status.

94

Please let it be Alonso! It's the one thing that may get me back watching F1 regularly again!

95

Well, that's not going to happen! Mclaren have just clarified that on the Skyf1 website! Alonso will have to go a different route in winning his 3rd wdc and that warms my heart immensely! 😎

96

Sounds like everyone had a great day, congratulations to the lucky winners and thanks to Mercedes, James and Alex for organising 😄

97

nice beard..

98

@aveli

Ok I give in. You've got me stumped. What on earth are you talking about?

99

just teasing c63.

100

He seems to have a man-crush, bear(d) with him :).

101

how about the shades?

102

No, sorry. I need another clue.

103

Surprised none of them would rate Ricciardo above Verstappen or Hamilton. IMO Danny is the most complete and consistent driver of the 3, but I can see why Max has so much hype. I hope DR proves me right next year in a title-capable car!

104

Yep, proof is in the pudding. Considering, he was the best driver voted by the drivers in his first season with RBR, considering he beat his highly hyped team mate fair and square, considering F1 pundits (referring to all the sky reports this year) ranks him one of the top 3, considering Alonso ranking him the best on the grid (report in this blog) etc. I think James need to find people outside of England when asking this kind of questions.

105

like mr jones?
i hear many drivers in traffic trying to dictate to me how to drive my car yet will not concider paying for my fuel..

106

None of the three you mentioned are consistent. All have had some bad days. The difference is Lewis on his good days is ahead of the others by some margin. Next years car may shake this up as it might suit one driver more than the others.

107

how do we measure "the most complete"?
is that not another anti fanatic phrase coined brundle?

108

The hype is becoming ridiculous. Head to head Ricciardo comprehensively beat MV in both qualifying and races. Statistics don't lie.

110

I've never seen so much hype over the guy that came a clear second in the team against all the key performance indicators... but I suppose that means Ricciardo can just do his thing underneath the radar.

If Daniel happens to win a championship against Verstappen, I'm looking forward to hearing about how undeserved it was!

111

he's a teenager..
it'll all be revealed when the shaving starts...

112

Statistics don't lie, but they don't tell the entire story. Ricciardo has a lot more experience both F1 and at Red Bull, and Verstappen has proven to be a tough nut to crack for the last couple of races. I agree Ricciardo is more consistent, but I think Verstappen has more potential. Time will tell.

113

Statistics shows you the evidence. Stories can be hypothetical, you cannot make up statistics.

114

yes you can. It's all about choices to make what to measure.
Fastest laps, tire wear, drinking during races, and all kinds of more or less important things.
"Lies, damned lies, and statistics!

115

Exact, Kvyat beat Dan before. Statistics don't lie.

116

In one of the key performance areas: the final score in the championship. There are other factors: qualifying head-to-heads, number of points scores, fastest laps. In fact, Dan was pretty good at beating Kvyat by ~20sec in races when he was ahead, too. Kvyat wasn't ahead on many of these in 2015, and was set for more of the same in 2016 when he was shunted back to Toro Rosso.

117

I think because people look futher then just numbers. The last 10 races or so it was more even in qualy. Not even mentioning the times they put Max out in traffic in q3. In races Max had 3 races with clutch issues. But even if we all forget about that.

Max is a 19 year old guy. Driving his 3th seasons in racing cars. In a team he entered while the season was already going on. He missed winter testing for RBR, he had to copy the setups form Ricciardo in the beginning (only last 5 or so he has the knowledge to do it himself for the redbull car). And from that moment on he is beating Ricciardo more then he is being beaten.

Al respect for Ricciardo. He is very fast and good. But he has his hands full on this new kid. And that for a driver who is ranked faster en better than Vettel it is a big thing.

118

DR had more than 2 years in the RB. MV step in after 4 races and only 1 year in F1. After the summer break it's MV on top. Did you even watch Brasil ? DR was humiliated.

119

Humiliated by 7sec? It was a good drive, but don't get carried away here. He was moments from sticking into the wall as well.

120

But.............his peaks are higher than his wooly haired Antipodean team-mate. It's just that he hasn't been able to sustain those peaks consistently - not this season, but who knows for the future? And the peaks is how you judge a driver. On a slippery and greasy Brazilian track, his performance in the blinding spray was up there with Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone 2008 or Schumi at Spa 1997, or Ayrton Senna in Portugal 1985.

No disrespect, but Dan Ric has never put in a overwhelmingly peerless performance like Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone 2008 where Hammy was lapping over 6 seconds faster PER LAP than his rivals, or Schumi at Barcelona 1996 where all his rivals floundered in his spray, or Ayrton Senna at Estoril 1985 where he was in his league of his own and won by a over a minute. Max's performance in the last 16 laps at Brazil hinted at a very, very once in a generation special talent.

121

monaco 2016.

122

spain 2016.
FP2 Hungary
Baku quali 2016

123

out of 21 races?

124

James, would you like to see Hamilton-Alonso or Hamilton-Vettel at Mercedes in 2017? 2007 was great when Fernando and Lewis were driving for top team, McLaren considering just racing on the track.

125

I think Alonso is more likely to have a clause that lets him out if a Mercedes team comes available. Honda pushed hard to get him, and pay him, so they might have acceded to that if he insisted.

Regardless of what they say, McLaren has no say in Alonso's presence or not; he was forced on them by Honda.

As for which of the two, him or Vettel, should go to Mercedes. I don't mind either, but am more eager for Alonso to have a shot in a good car.

A concern, possibly, is how Vettel has adjusted to being out of an Adrian Newey-designed vehicle. Whether with Ricciardo, or at Ferarri - where he did get three wins - Sebastian hasn't been THAT consistent.

I don't know who is going to be picked for the seat. I hope Alonso gets it,

126

pairing hamilton with each those drivers will confirm what is already known.

127

Neither! You mean 2007 when Hamilton and Alonso were acting like children! You might want to see that again, I don't! 😎

128

Isn't it interesting how even from a small sample of people you get the same main points raised about the sport in general, TV viewing costs,spectator costs,prize fund distribution,more teams fighting for wins.
ALTHough personally I think the tyres are great.
DRS I'd ditch in conjunction with an increase in fuel flow and overall quantity.

Only other comment is a bit cheeky but I've gotta put a word in about Joe Saward, anyone who doesn't know his writing but loves F1 needs to visit his site.
Sorry James and Alex your also great.

129

If I got rid of DRS I would want push to pass like Indy. You get so many and that's it and can be used to defend too.

130

i don't care if there was only one other person watching f1. so long as i get to watch it..

131

Great stuff Alex. Shame about Rosberg's retirement, but that's his life choice. Bottas will probably take over as a stop-gap, so if Merc continue their dominance, I pray Valtteri gives Lewis a real run for his money. The interview pretty much affirmed most fans' wishes- free-to-air for all races, all teams push Merc close, but also the depth of McLaren's problems.

For my best 5 drivers: Verstappen (brilliant but petulant and raw) , Alonso (crushed Button), Rosberg (WDC), Sainz (outstanding) & Hamilton (very good but inconsistent).

Sadly, Gutierrez had the worst year of any driver in 2016. He did beat Grosjean on occasions, but he finished P11 five times- signalling he lacks that bit extra to make a difference. Also his middle finger gesture to Steiner in Brazil summed up his abject season. No offence to Brian, but his answer shocked me. Grosjean himself struggled, but when the chances came he took them emphatically, but he's not a top 3 team driver.

132

No offence taken. It was a bit of a dumb call. You make a good point

133

"Alonso crushed Button"

Very much like Ricciardo crushed Verstappen all year. But no rating in your best 5 drivers.

134

Jenson Button checked out of Mclaren a couple years back! He was just going through the motions this year! 😎

135

A great champion! A true sportsman and a gentleman. Well done to Nico Rosberg. I find it amusing how his detractors continue to count the apparent mechanical failures (I refer to the hamfans). As the saying goes "a poor workman blames his tools". Nico Rosberg expertly plied his craft and balanced his skill to ensure that he worked in harmony with the car and kept it whole at all times. What a great result for F1 and for sport in general. And even though it is a loss for 2017 - well done young man for your life choice. Enjoy your family time. Please ask Toto to put Fernando in your car. He would surely be 2017 WC with Daniel as runner up! Roll on Australia in March.

136

It is great to see Lewis has made some comments for the prerequisites of his new team mate........team player, good values, positive and good work ethic. It is interesting how some people hold others to a higher standard than which they hold themselves.

137

Give us a link or tell us where you read lewis saying this.According to you, three world titles just fall down from the skies without a good work ethic. He has got great values. He does not demand his teammates be shackled for his own selfish interest. And team player? You mean because he stood up for his own interest and not Rosberg's in Abu Dhabi?

139

Interesting ! 🙊
I'm sure you yourself hold yourself in a higher social strata because you point is so interesting 🙈🙉

140

Good comments. I haven't been this excited about a new f1 season since probably 2008. The 2009 regs definitely did dampen my enthusiasm for f1, and just as I was starting to recover we had the hybrid engine fiasco.

The main things I'm looking forward to in 2017 are the sexy new cars, which I'm sure will give the drivers and spectators a massive buzz, plus I think the increased aero importance will enable Red bull to at least give the Mercedes a hard time. With luck they will challenge for the championships.

If not, next year will be disaster with a dominant Mercedes and no teammate to challenge Lewis.

141

that's why they should fire lewis and show the rest of the grid up even more.

142

Well, according to Nikki Lauda there will be no punishment for Hamilton and that's that! End of story! 😎

143

F1 is a sport, but it's a business also. Did Nico stiff Mercedes much? Bad for his rep? Merc had NO idea this was coming? His contract ended next year?

144

@crick
Was he not contracted till 2018?

145

Best comment was Adrian's, make it free for everyone on TV.
This alone would bring in a whole new audience which is currently locked out or forced to view on dodgy pirated live streams.

146

There is free TV in the USA so why not everywhere? I know we only get to see FP2, qualifying, and the race. Sometimes we get to see all three practice sessions. You do have to have NBCSN and CNBC but that's included one step above basic cable which includes more than just those channels.

Lowering the price tracks have to pay would be much better so that all tracks don't end up in the Middle East without people in the stands. Tracks can have other events such as a rock concert after the race to draw more people in and make it worth seeing.

You can sit in the stands of a NASCAR race and see the cars everywhe but that's not the case for a 3.5 mile road race and having a big screen at the track makes you want to just watch at home.

Making the sport more accessible and getting viewers so that advertising is where the money comes in from is the way to go. I know it's got to be hard without cigarette companies but there are things that could be done that are not being done.

147

We have a slightly different TV model here in Australia. We have a "free to air" approx 15 or so channels, then we also have various subscription services, the largest being Foxtel.
F1 was always streamed live on the Ten Network (free) for the last ten years or so. Then two years ago Ten announced they will only be showing every 2nd race live, and everything including practice, qualy etc is shown live on Foxtel now. To give you an idea why people are moving away from Foxtel in droves I was paying $135 per month just so I could watch F1, Rugby League, Horse racing and some movies. Yet for $3 per week I get all 8 games of RL live through an app, I can stream all the horse racing to my hearts content over the net (legitimately), and who hasn't heard of Netflix, so it really only left me paying for F1. Sorry can't justify that price.

148

I think Nico Hulkenburg would be a good choice to replace Rosberg. He has been a consistent points scorer for FI, he is quick and reliable, he won at Le Mans in 2015 and he has wanted to join a factory team for some time. He would undoubtedly be easier to manage than Alonso and he is German. His recent contract with Renault could be bought out at a much lower cost than Alonso's with McLaren. I think Hulkenburg would make a great team mate with Hamilton and most importantly enable Merc to win the WCC again in 2017.

149

Would bet on Hamilton - Bottas . Alonso impossible due to "historical" reasons at McLaren. Verstappen clashes / crashes between team-mates granted. Hamilton - Ricciardo (?) - but would Ricciardo move - Red Bull may be the strongest team next year.
The funny thing is that I believe that whoever replaces Rosberg, it is Hamilton who will be the one more troubled by the team-mate than the other way around. Hamilton - Vettel? If Vettel sets-in quickly Hamilton might leave before mid season.

150

Verstappen is not going to happen. He is Red Bulls golden boy, they'll never let him go. And with all the aero changes next year they could be the team to beat, so Verstappen isn't keen on changing either.

151

No basis for that idea, at all.

Lewis relishes a decent team mate.

It is Vettel and Alonso have to have #1 status, otherwise they are not happy bunnies.

152

Agreed with Bottas. One feels sure Williams could be easily persuaded to part with him too - cheaper engine.
Hamilton never functioned well with Button as a team mate at McLaren. Not sure if Bottas would that challenging.

153

Congratulations to Nico Rosberg. We have to remember that he did beat Schumacher when Nico was the clear no 2. in the team. As long as Michael was in the team they followed Michael's preferences - and Nico had some different opinions about the development of the car - but was not listened to. Still Nico was quicker than Schumacher on several occasions With Schumi gone and Nico's views taken into account the development took a turn for the better. The championship winner is the one who takes the most points. You can always if and but about DNFs - but so could you do about any year in F1. Nico deserved to win this year!
Wonder just if he regrets his decision when the hype of winning the championship settles down. At least he leaves as an unbeaten world-champion.

154

You are right. Maybe MB could let Nico stay on in some productive way. He may be able to help MB in some small way.

155

I have heard Alonso/vettel touted as possible replacement for Rosberg .It will be foolhardy for any of these two drivers to move to Mercedes. There is no way for these two drivers to know with absolute certainty that their own present teams will not deliver them a car competitive car considering the regulation changes coming. A fast enough car,even if not the fastest, but with bullet proof reliability can win the tittle. Furthermore,is anyone of these two drivers absolutely confident of going to Mercedes and overthrowing Lewis? Yes they may be lucky and even win a tittle,should reliability favour them,as we saw with Rosberg.But everything being equal, they both run the risk of being humiliated. Neither Alonso, nor vettel in my view are as fast as Lewis.Neither are offensively or defensively as skillful. In fact I noticed that after Lewis's defensive display against Rosberg in Bahrain 2014, vettel and Alonso would try in the subsequent races to manoeuvre their cars while defending, like Lewis did. But they visibly simply do not have those skiils in their lockers.

156

There was some bias in your discussion with the people on the Merc factory tour, non?

Best on track driver in the best car: Lewis Hamilton
I'm not a fan of the antics and what I see as gaming the rules, in a way that threatens the spectacle, and I believe that eventually Max Verstappen will get the kharma payback, but he provided the contention, on par with Lewis, and approaching on-track.
But there is something to be said for winning it, and having to do everything necessary to win the championship, whether you believe Rosberg was the best on-track driver or not, HE WON!
Not too many people will remember the contention, and such as the MMC (Mercedes Managed Championship), as I call it, and all the weirdness, which seemed intrinsic to Rosberg's eventual gaining the driver championship in 2016; most will just read it and see that he won, and then, on the footnote, that he retired directly afterwards, and what has been consider, 'prime' age.

But replacements is interesting to ponder.
Anybody who got the nod, would have to see it as the best opportunity they could likely expect, for the rest of their career, with few exceptions, if they can, will likely go to Merc, including Vettel and Alonso.
The question is, does Merc really need the hassle of another WDC, after the supposed nightmare of managing Lewis and Nico?
They really need a classic number 2, who can pick up the ball if the number one ihas mechanical trouble, or otherwise, and reliably bring in the podiums, at least for the first year, not really challenging Lewis.
This assumes that they shall keep Lewis, and Lewis shall keep Mercedes; which isn't a complete slam-dunk in my mind.
But supposing we work from this assumption.
Ruled out: Alonso, Vettel, even Sainz, defintely Max, and Ricciardo.
But they want experiene, at least one season, preferrably with Merc equipment (but not necessarily).
In the last article, (at the earlier phases of shock), I propose Bottas to Merc, and Button to Williams; but now I don't know why Button directly to Merc wouldn't be the ideal Merc solution; and I have a strong feeling that Button would probably be okay with it.
Wehrlein must be in the equation, but I think they want a tad more experience.
One would have to expect Checko to be in the calculations, as well, and he's pretty close to the sweet spot, but I can't seem him yielding to the veteran; and I would expect him to be more competitive than Rosberg, on-track (very little doubt).
I rule out Hulkenberg, with his move to Renault, I think he'll stay; but he's very, very close to the sweet spot and potentially similar marketability factor as Rosberg, especially in the German market.
I don't think Kimi would go; he said he'd stay with Ferrari, and they signed him for another year, I think he'd stay at Ferrari.
The guy I thought of after the last post, who is right on the sweet spot, is Kvyat.
He got incredibly negatively biased press, and RB/TR certainly didn't do anything to help him out.
I think out of everybody, I'd like to see Kvyat at Merc in 2017, very poetically pleasing, especially if he won the championship!

Keeping the chuckles coming.

157

They really need a classic number 2, who can pick up the ball if the number one ihas mechanical trouble, or otherwise, and reliably bring in the podiums, at least for the first year, not really challenging Lewis.

Not sure Webber is up for another stint in F1 but it might be worth a shout.

158

@ Deancassady.... with all the top drivers/talent locked well away they don't have too many options open to them. As you mentioned kvyat is a wild card and one that i hadn't even thought about. My guess though is that Bottas is probably the single most likely candidate for a 12 month contract. Wehrlein is IMO not ready for such a prime spot but then again mercedes would be well aware of his potential and he would be their second string if the bottas deal falls over...i think. William claim to have their budget covered but they really are a team now that always seem to be on the money trail! Who else would have given maldonado a drive, given that it took half the venezuelen GDP to sweeten the deal!. So, maybe your 'left field' alternative will come to pass....let's see.

159

K:
I think we agree that Bottas must be the top candidate.
But I don't think of Checko as a 'left field' candidate at all, he's just (lkely correctly considered) too feisty for Merc/Lewy; he can be counted on to definitely 'go for it', regardless of what they tell him to do in the race; it's one of the reasons that I like him and rate him highly.
Kvyat is neither, so far off the mark, experience, young, fast, and 'kept down'; they have the opportunity to create a great delta between his results at RB/TR and Merc, which is central to their current branding direction (as evidenced by their managing the WDC in 2016).
But you'd have to consider Button as the top 'stop gap' candidate. He's just about expired, but still fast. Has respect, but can still turn it on. He's reasonable, and won't expect to stay longer than a year. And this is a guy who can win a world championship! (proven). I'm not huge fan of JB, but in this case, he's just about perfect for the role, and I have to admit, I do kind of like him, and I would like him to get one more chance in top machinery, to see if he could possibly get a second WDC.
The one thing against Button, is that he is British, and they already have a British driver, so their marketing spiel is obviously constrained - BUT JUST ONE YEAR!
The more I write it down, the more I like Button.

160

Much as I'd love to see JB get the job I can't see how it would sit alongside his ambassadorial role at McLaren. He's their contracted reserve driver whilst he has his so-called sabbatical.

That said, it was widely reported that JB himself pointed out that it was Ron that persuaded him to sign up for another couple of years with the carrot of a possible drive in 2018, a contingency for if Fernando jumps ship or retires at the end of next year leaving McLaren without an experienced driver. Now that Ron has departed it's possible that that contract could be terminated.

161

What's wrong with most of you, is intra-team battles the main prerogative of following F1, or has team rivalry and competitiveness between teams lost its flair in F1 today. To be honest, being a Hamilton fan, I was disappointed at the prospect of having to watch another year of Lewis and Nico slugging it out again, how boring. But Mercedes made sure the two would hardly be fighting each other on track, which resulted in Nico winning the title. Now it's over, time to move on, I can imagine that it was a tough 3 years for all involved, so why the wishes to line Lewis up again for another intra-team teammate battle?
Surely he deserves to be the defacto #1 driver at Mercedes now, and undoubtedly be set in an environment to be able to put his energy and motivation into developing the new car. Who knows where they'll be next year, and a young Pascal, who by the way is already involved with car development, would be a perfect teammate for Lewis. People should realise, it's no easy task for a team to be managing two alpha tiers. I want to see team rivalry again, maybe 10 teams all within a second, I want to see at least 4 teams each with a driver in with a chance of winning the wdc. The only problem I see is RB, and I'll explain why. McLaren has Alonso as #1 driver, Ferrari - Vettel, Renault-Hulkenberg, Force India - Perez, Mercedes - Hamilton, now RB are going to be forced to select a #1 driver sooner or later, or face the prospects of losing points over the others, like McLaren did in the era Button/Hamilton.
Those who are talking about Lewis having it too easy and all that bla,Bla,Bla, are those who find it very painful to acknowledge, when Lewis is motivated, focused, and really on his game, there is nobody in the field that can beat him. 
I wish you all a joyous festive holiday season, and a happy new year.
Roll on 2017...Go #44

162

We've had the weekend to sober up about the news. Toto no doubt has dropped his mobile into the toilet on purpose Friday.

It is Monday, and it is time to admit that Mercedes cannot do anything but put Pascal into the seat. It's as good as done. Bernie called Toto and told him to hold off the announcement to keep giving sites and fans something to write about. But it's surely done - decision is made.

Alonso to Mercedes is a headache Toto doesn't need.
2017 is going to be a challenge from RBR, and Mercedes need a young go getter. They also need to legitimize their young drivers program.

Plus, Lewis and Alonso are likely to have a Lewis and Nico in Spain type of an event on track sooner or later as ultimately Alonso will want to push for a 3rd. That's a bucket load of points right there at likely risk. Where as those types of risks never materialize with Lewis and Pascal. It just won't happen in 2017 with Pascal. So any benefit of extra points Alonso would bring over Pascal is immediately erased by the potential of a likely clash that costs Mercedes points. Benefit of Alonso erased right there.

It's over. Pascal will be the driver. Toto is too smart a dude to do anything else. This will stretch out for some dramatic effect and then Pascal gets to sit in the #6 car. Toto is just too level headed and logical to do otherwise. Lewis better recognize the gesture too. However, I still think one of the two RBR drivers will be crowned WDC end of 2017. Logic seems to dictate Max, because after all, he is the future of RBR and his youth would ensure his continued participation and value to F1 for decade as WDC, plus is maybe locks in Heineken. So I'm leaning Max wins 2017 WDC. Yup, Max will be your 2017 WDC champion. So let it be written, so let it be done.

163

...let's not forget Honda in all this. They are here, the are with McLaren only, and they are contributing to F1. Taking Alonso away would be painful and highly discouraging. I already think Honda is at risk after 2017 if results don't materialize, and Honda could call it a day. So while Toto maybe in position to take Alonso from McLaren to hurt Honda, as noted above in addition to all the headaches for Toto, Honda aren't really a challenger, and likely won't be and for Toto to do that after Dennis was let go would be bad for Honda and bad for F1, bad for McLaren - from whom they already got plenty. I mean, at some point Toto has to let McLaren try to get back on their feet after the pillaging that was 2012. Alonso needs to stay and keep Honda happy and in F1 and McLaren with some stability into 2017.

164

100% agree with you Heisenberg 👌

165

"Those who are talking about Lewis having it too easy and all that bla,Bla,Bla, are those who find it very painful to acknowledge, when Lewis is motivated, focused, and really on his game, there is nobody in the field that can beat him."

By your own logic then, Lewis was not motivated, focused and really on his game in 2016. He should really be asking himself hard questions about why that was instead of aiming paranoid whinges at the team. The very same team his next title challenge rests upon.

166

lorenzo said he couldn't believe how easy it was to drive an f1 car but couldn't drive it at the same speed as f1 drivers do. it couldn't be that easy then. only easy if you can do it mate.

167

If Lewis or someone at Mercedes can cope with taking someone under their wing, then Kvyat.

A little bit of love from someone outside of Red Bull, and I think he would be highly motivated to
- show what he can do in a top car again;
- take the fight against Red Bull, the team that screwed him over when he was doing well, and within weeks of getting them their first 2016 podium;
- certainly take the fight to Max Verstappen, with a good car, rather than one powered by a year-old Ferarri PU.

Even just for a year, until the top drivers' contracts start lapsing.

168

I refuse to rate Mercedes and Ferrari drivers because these teams clearly have agendas.

Perez, Ricciardo, Sainz , Wehrlein, Grosjean

I dont rate any driver that drives like an idiot in more than 1 race and for that reason alone I could not include Verstappen.

169
Valentino - Schumacher # 1

I hope Fernando Alonso gets signed by Mercedes just to witness 1 last time the Spaniard's total and complete meltdown against Hamilton : ))

170

Hey Val , You'd think it would be out of the question after 2007 Mclaren -Merc. Then again you'd of thought the same before Ron Re-hired him !-seems alls fair in love & f1..ha. but I totally agree on the sentiment

172

I wonder what back-up plan Lauda gave Ferrari in 1977 when he quit the team mid-race weekend in Canada?

173

It's hard to argue with Niki's logic, really. With all the drivers from the top couple of tiers already tied up for 2017, Mercedes are left with a choice between a green youngster they don't actually rate as highly as Ocon, or a bit of a journeyman like Paul di Resta to fill the seat. As a top team going into a big rule change season, you really don't want a young hotshoe with no experience of racing at the front in your second car. An obedient, experienced and steady number two is probably their best, if uninspiring, option.

174

I have huge respect for Nico, not just as a racing driver, but as a gentleman and all round human being. So his decision to retire is something that commands further respect from me. Lewis Hamilton is a fine racing driver, that goes without saying, but I find it hard to like and respect him as a person as much as other drivers. He does have a generous and likeable side to his personality and I have never met him in person, so I can only comment from what I see in the media. I suspect it's because he has led a life away from the normality that most of us live in, and so my view of him is distorted by that. He could take a few lessons from Nico, Daniel, Jenson, and Felipe in the manner in which he conducts himself. I don't bear any ill feelings against anyone, and I wish him well, but I hope Mercedes choose a driver who will be able to compete with Lewis at the highest level

175

Out of curiosity... Jiminez or Jiménez?
😉

176

If Mercedes want a short term solution to generate points, putting Jensen in the car for one year has got to be a good bet. He would be close behind Lewis and is mature enough not to cause trouble between the sides of the garage. Totto can wait till next year for those when he can get Alonso or Vettel alongside Lewis.

However, I suspect if Lewis wins the championship again next year, he might well be tempted to try for another one with Ferrari, if they put up a reasonable performance under the new regs.

177

Remember Jenson is still under contract with McLaren - there's probably some sort of provision to stop him racing for another team in 2017. He looked done by the end of the season though, as did Massa. I think they should switch to a Ferrari-style 1-2 hierarchy, shift the focus to Hamilton, bring in Paul di Resta as a safe pair of hands and use 2017 to fully assess Wehrlein and Ocon.

178

What about this amazing alternative , what if Mercedes decides to sack Hamilton and to hire two drivers , choose your pairs, alonso vs vettel, etc

179

Great feature. Would love to be part of it one day.

180

I think I have a better idea now. Until MB signs someone Rossberg may change his mind and want to defend his title.

I know there are few like me. I actually am a fan of both. Rossberg won me over with his singing in Italy and Hamilton drove fantastic in the last part of the season.

If Rossberg does not change his mind I think Bottas and Perez look to be good canidates from MBs on remarks even though I hope they roll the dice for someone younger maybe like Gasly or Ocon but not PW but I think the odds are bad for MB not getting someone with a few years experience maybe in exchange for a Gasly or similar in the backmarkers.

If I were MB I would want Alonso but if that's too complicated then Perez and Bottas would really be on the radar.

It would also be cool if they could get a female driver Suzie Wolf??? Haha

181

Actually, scratch Sutil - I forgot about champagnegate!

182

It's exceedingly rare for a top team to put an untried young driver straight into a race seat. When you've already got a winner like Hamilton in the other car, there's very little incentive to take the risk. Even more so when you're going into a big rule change year - familiarity and experience were the primary reasons Ferrari have stuck with Kimi. In that context even Wehrlein is a risk, let alone Gasly, who Red Bull have probably taken steps to secure.

Perez or Bottas would be very expensive to obtain, but I think Mercedes will either stump up the cash or go for an interim solution like di Resta or maybe even Sutil. Boring, but relatively safe and cheap. Both would be reliable rear gunners and points scorers for Hamilton while the team sort out a longer term solution.

183

One thing is sure; Hamilton was beaten in no1 car. He is not invincible and sooner than later he will be beaten again and if he does not quit himself, he will be humiliated like all drivers who stayed on track fot too long. Rosber will apparently not be one of those drivers and this is why many Hamilton fans (incl experts and self proclaimed experts) are very upset with Nico. Guys, Lewis still has a chance to leave honorable, so don't be so bitter because of Nico's farewell:)

184

HAM will be beaten for sure, but he will always be remembered as a 3 time WDC @Andy77. Nico will be remembered as a WDC who retired 5 days after winning the championship 😉

185

ROS wil be remembered as WDC 2016 some one who ended his career on a high.

186

i will always remember how it all happened.

187

Okay it's time for wild guesses.

1. If Bottas gets sold to Mercedes, then Gutierrez takes his big bag of cash to Williams and throws it on the pile with Stroll's fortune.

2. If Alonso manages to extricate himself over to Mercedes, causing Hamilton to have a myocardial infarction, then Sainz gets released from Toro Rosso and joins Stoffel at McLaren. Sainz gets replaced at Toro Rosso by the highest bidder under the age of 18.

3. If Vettel was by some remote chance released from Ferrari to Mercedes, Hamilton would quit and go to work for Hugo Boss. Lewis would be replaced by German speaking Hulkenberg who would get himself out of Renault and would be replaced at Renault by Alain Prost's son.

188

Any vacancy at Toro Rosso will surely fall to Pierre Gasly. Many were expecting him to get the drive this year so if Kvyat doesn't start the season well, another mid-season dumping could easily be on the cards.

189

I can't see why Romain couldn't be easily extracted from his HAAS contract and in my eyes is clearly capable of winning races. Whetehr he can go toe to tow with Lewis is another matter but he was a team player when asked to move over for Kimi when at Lotus so think he would be motivated, fast and a good fit. HAAS have Kevin who will do a solid enough job for them and could always bring Vergne is from Fezz

190

Of all the comments about the new driver for Mercedes, I don't think anybody has mentioned Stoffel Vandorne. This guy is fast and probably pretty cheap from McLaren. Of course with Alonso limited in how many years he has left, they may want to hold on to the younger guy. Oddly, as Nico went up to the winning stand the thought occurred to me, "Might he retire now?" but then I dismissed the idea. So I was still surprised when he did. But Lauda did this a couple of times.....then he came back because his airline wasn't doing well financially and became WC again.

191

I wonder why F1 can't do a Grand Prix of Europe for the 3-4 circuits which do hard in hosting a race every season.
So they could host a race every 3-4 years which would lower their costs and keeps the interest in countries without an annual race higher.

192

Some frankly bizarre reasoning for some of the top driver picks, there. I mean, how on earth does what Hulkenberg might do in 2017 qualify him as a top five driver of 2016? Makes very little sense, but probably still more than picking Gutierrez who clearly showed Romain Grosjean how to get the most out of the Haas with his complete lack of points finishes versus Grosjean's five!

I think you also have to go uncharitably far out of your way to avoid picking Rosberg in the top five. At the end of the day, he found a new level this year and beat one of the fastest drivers of his generation. Yes, Lewis suffered somewhat poorer luck but if you think that counts as 'bad' luck in the grand F1 scheme of things then allow me to conference you in to Nigel Mansell, Felipe Massa and Niki Lauda so they can laugh bitterly down the phone at you.

For my five, I'd go for Nico, Lewis, Max and Danny Ricc, but I don't think there's been a fifth standout contender. It's probably a toss-up between Alonso and Perez and I think I'd plump for Alonso on the grounds that he outperformed his car all season, where Perez did have some disappointing results in the first half of the season as well as his podium finishes.

193

Put Haryanto in there! Out-qualified the much vaunted Wehrlein more than a few times

194

I hope Mercedes AMG F1 throw their weight behind Lewis Hamilton in 2017 and pair him with an up-and-coming German driver who can benefit from Hamilton's experience without posing any real threat to his championship challenge. I believe the team will function much better at all levels with this type of driver lineup; with the added bonus of supporting the next generation of German talent.

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