Six races, six different winners and the most open championship for years. It's silly. But the 'F1 Silly Season' happens every year. The what?? Yes, a silly name but oh so accurate. This is part of the off-track antics that F1 is famous for and usually as exciting as the on track action. I am referring to the "who goes where next year" saga that always digs up some stories and drama. Lewis Hamilton has kicked this off already and holds the key to the domino effect that will ripple through the paddock.
My day job has me recruiting for the best talent in the industry for Huffington Post UK but the F1 fan in me would love to experience recruiting drivers into an F1 team. I doubt the assessment process includes a competency based interview, but then again, wouldn't it be great to ask Lewis, "Tell me about a time you have dealt with pressure?" or Michael Schumacher, "You have a colleague in your team consistently out performing you. How would you deal with this?" Unlikely it seems.
So, Lewis Hamilton has been rumoured to be offered a five-year contract to drive for McLaren through to 2017. In real terms this will take him through what is known to be his prime years as a Formula One driver, 28-33 years old. Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes all have drivers in their lineup with a contract coming to an end at the end of 2012 - Felipe Massa, Mark Webber and Michael Schumacher respectively. Naturally McLaren want to protect their investment in a man they have nurtured and developed since he age of 13. Would they really try and lure Lewis, or is he destined to stay with McLaren unless he actively chooses to move on?
Ferrari need a number two driver to support Fernando Alonso. As much as they may claim there is equal parity across two drivers, it's not in their psyche to have that. Sergio Perez (currently at Sauber) is part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, and must be a shoe-in for Massa's seat. However over the Monaco weekend, Mark Webber was mentioned as a potential replacement also - Mark and Fernando are good friends.
Paul Di Resta (currently at Force India) has a similar 'shoe fitting' in place at Mercedes, having driven for them in DTM. That leaves Red Bull. Lewis famously visited the Red Bull motorhome in Canada last year that started tongues wagging about a move to that team. But Red Bull has an entire 2nd team to support their driver development programme: Scuderia Torro Rosso. Their current drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne need to impress, and quickly, otherwise they will be overlooked. Mark Webber could stay on, particularly if he has a good 2012 - winning Monaco was a good start. So Lewis could find that his best option is to stay at McLaren.
Lewis is apparently wanting less sponsorship commitments and for the restrictions slapped on him by the oh-so-corporate McLaren culture to be relaxed. McLaren need to have a big neon-flashing sign put in front of their eyes: you haven't won the Drivers World Championship since 2008 (and then, only just) nor the Constructors World Championship since 1998 - let Lewis (and Jenson) do whatever he wants.
Time will tell - it will be fascinating to see what happens, and I'll be blogging my views along the way.
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