Alex Palmer Writes...

Theres been a fair few articles and discussions on blogs etc speculating as to the real reasons behind some of the Renault-related stories that have hit the news in the last few weeks, and so I figured it would be worth covering here.

In a nutshell, heres the headlines:

- Lotus have ended a long-term Renault partnership and signed up with Mercedes starting 2015 (good article by John Noble if youre interested)

- Caterham have recently had an ownership change (new owners were associated with Jordan/Midland/Spyker in years past) and the former Caterham team boss Cyril Abiteboul is returning to Renault and will be involved in their F1 program, and

key Red Bull figures have gone public with their dissatisfaction and frustration on Renaults performance this year amid speculation that they intend to manufacture their own engines in the near future.

Assuming Caterham remain on the grid next year Id expect they would be looking for a new engine deal - either by their own choice or because Renault might be trying to put all their eggs in the Red Bull stable (RBR and Torro Rosso).  It might make sense for them to go chasing a Honda deal (potentially linking more closely with McLaren and/or moving the balance of their operations back to England from Malaysia), and I do understand that theres been mass redundancies announced this week at Caterhams Malaysian facility.

One thing is certain though - the German factory Mercedes team with their gun German driver will be hard to beat in Germany this weekend.  That is if anyone in Germany actually cares about the F1 this week - there have been some amazing scenes as the world champion football team returned home in the last few days......

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I imagine theres a fair few happy Brits around the place this morning with Lewis Hamilton winning this morning, the first time since 2008 that any British driver has won their home grand prix.  The race start was always going to be interesting with so many cars out of place following a rain-affected qualifying but Kimis accident and the lengthy stoppage was something of an anti-climax.  But once things got underway we saw most of Alonso and Bottas amazing charge up through the field (despite the best efforts of the FOM director to show everything other than those battles) and in the closing stages an amazing (and heated) battle between Alonso and Vettel.

By the way, what an amazing turnout from the fans at Silverstone, with the commentators at one point suggesting around 70% of the crowd in pink to honour Jenson Buttons late father.  There were a few tweets of various UK-based crew wearing the pink for pappa shirts under their own team kit, a really nice touch.  And just when I thought wed get to the end of the race without a BBQ, the Lotus of Maldonado obliged with a puff of smoke before coming to a stop on the last lap.

What an interesting spot the championship is in heading to the German GP which Rosberg also considers his home race (apparently he has two, Monaco and Germany).  Will we see the momentum shift back to Hamiltons side of the garage leading into the summer break?  I understand that Rosberg is getting married during the summer break, perhaps hes spending more time picking table centres, music and menus than preparing for his F1 races........

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With Silverstone just around the corner, it seems a bit early to be looking ahead to next year - but that seems to be the main topic of conversation around the F1 media last weekend (well, that plus the Goodwood Festival of Speed)!  The FIAs World Motor Sport Council has released changes to the F1 regulations for 2015, and key among the changes is the introduction of standing starts from the grid at the end of a safety car period, unless the Safety Car is used within two laps of the start (or restart), or if there are less than five laps remaining.  And in other news, this seasons biggest talking point (pun intended!) pre-season - the pointy thing on the front of most of the cars - wont be back next year, with regulations being changed to "...provide more aesthetically pleasing structures...".  Interestingly enough, no changes to the engine noise and despite widespread agitation from fans double-points for the last race seems have been retained.  Although the FIA has changed its own rules too - such that the last date "...sporting and technical regulations..." can be changed without unanimous agreement has been moved from 30 June to 15 March starting next year.  So I guess if the Mercs loose the World Championship as a result of double-points in the last race they can still change the rules for 2015!!

In other news, it looks like Caterhams days as an F1 team are numbered (poor Kobyashi!!) - after a cryptic tweet from Caterham boss Tony Fernandes this week admitting that the foray into F1 hadnt worked (story by Adam Cooper here).  Adams article suggests that there is a new owner in the wings for Caterham, however its not likely to be either of the parties who have expressed interest in breaking into F1.  I wonder if Kobyashis crowd-sourced the funds to buy the team to keep his F1 dream alive??

If you are heading to Silverstone this weekend, you might like to consider wearing Pink for Papa (in honour of the late John Button).  And if you are lucky enough to be going, dont forget the sunscreen, the jumper, the poncho, and a mate or two to keep you company!!

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Its been 11 years since weve heard the sound of an F1 car in Austria, and this weekend will be interesting for many reasons.  The Mercedes camp are keen to return to the top step of the podium but theyll have some stiff competition from the Red Bulls who consider this their home track.  Which makes me wonder just how long itll be before some ill-informed (and geographically challenged) motorsports writer will refer to "Austrian" Daniel Ricciardo or to the fact that this is Ricciardos home track.  It has quite interesting potential - if you spot any feel free to post a URL in the comments below.

But seriously - could this be the round that we see two Red Bulls on the podium again?  The track is not really known to to anyone, Red Bull is coming off a great weekend last weekend, and the weather will be fine but not too hot which should help with reliability.  Whos your pick for the round??

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OK - so maybe I could have come up with a better title, but its been a busy weekend.....

However, its not entirely without merit - if you havent seen pictures of the various F1 drivers in their lederhosen you might like to do a little googling.....or heres a couple I found earlier - Ricciardo, and Bottas who apparently bet Claire Williams hed wear his in public if he made the podium.  So I guess that means Ricciardos wearing his in public either means hes confident showing off his legs, or it was a Red Bull publicity stunt.

Speaking of publicity stunts, did anyone else see the cringe-worthy graphics that FOM overlayed on pit exit during lap 70?  Maybe thats what has kept the FOM director(s) busy during the last two races which were definitely sub-par standard with key minutes missed.  Its also spawned a few copy-cat pictures including one where "Im innocent, dont jail me - Bernie" has been written over the start/finish line of the Silverstone track, plus a few others which arent really suitable for a family blog like this one.  Id have to say that FOMs director(s) got it more right than wrong this round though, we saw some epic last lap overtakes (Ricciardo on Hulkenburg) but we didnt see either of the Williams cross the line - which was sad for Bottas first podium in F1.

Further down in the field, it wasnt a good day for the Red Bull stable with both Torro Rosso retiring (Kyvat with a rear puncture and possible suspension dramas, and Vergne with a repeat of recent brake dramas) and Vettel loosing power on the first lap before recovering (control-alt-delete anyone?) but retiring with a view to avoiding a possible penalty after rear-ending a back marker.  OK ok ok - so maybe he was retired to save components on the car given hes close to getting a penalty having changed a lot of them already this season.  But whatever the reason, Christian Horner has been laying into Renault already after the race and rumours of Vettel to Ferrari (and Red Bull to VW or Audi) are once again getting some airplay.  And poor Sauber, things seem to be going from bad to worse with the team confirming post-race that a box this lap call sent to Sutil on the radio the lap AFTER hed pitted was actually meant for Gutierrez.  With Marussias recent points hauls, it looks like a race to avoid last between Caterham and Sauber!!

And so we look to Silverstone, where a record crowd (dressed mostly in pink as a tribute to "Papa" Button) is expected and Hamilton will hope to take some points off Rosbergs championship lead.  I do so hope that we get a repeat of Webber doing the podium interviews, at least his questions were better than some of the bozos who have had a run so far this year....

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In an unlikely - but very exciting - end to the Canadian Grand Prix Daniel Ricciardo became just the fourth Australian (behind the late Sir Jack Brabham (14), Alan Jones (12), and Mark Webber (9)) to win an F1 race.  The almost unreal ending to the race was a great reward for those Aussie fans who either got up early, or didnt go to bed (or were watching from the other side of the world Nathan!).  While theres no doubting that he and the Red Bull strategists pulled off a good race, I do think that they benefited from the troubles plaguing the Mercedes team as theres no doubt the Silver Arrows are still the cars to beat in terms of pace.

Its also worth a shout-out to Jenson Button who, despite the best efforts of the FOM directors to ignore him (yes, they once again showed some questionable and unfortunate timing in cutting away from or to various shots at inopportune moments), brought the McLaren home in fourth place with a stellar finish - obviously the near-miss with the local birdlife (the animal ones, people!!) during practice didnt have any serious lingering effects.   Both Williams and Force India were looking at a good points haul until the last couple of laps when Perez and Massa had one of the more spectacular accidents weve seen for a while.  Although both drivers are OK they were taken to the hospital for checks (from where posted a hospital bed selfie on twitter) but later released, with Perez taking a five grid-point penalty into the next race.  The Marussia intra-team accident on the opening lap has had consequences for Chilton who not only broke the longest finishing streak in F1 history by retiring from the race, but will also take a 3 grid-place penalty into the next race.  I guess they figure the best hes likely to be on the grid is 19th (if he qualified infront of the Caterhams and Bianchi).  Theres been a bit of chat around about how quickly the Marussia bodywork crumbled / flew apart, one to watch as we head into the next round perhaps.

In general I think there were a few more mechanical gremlins out there this race, probably due to the heat (it was warmer than even Malaysia!).  To be specific, we saw 7 retirements - 4 Renaults, 2 Ferraris, and one Mercedes (interestingly, the factory Mercedes had the problems not the customer cars!).  Could this mean the Mercs are vulnerable for some of the other typically hotter European summer races?  A season that had started to look a bit boring and one-sided has definitely shown some promise with todays results, and not just in the race for the Drivers Championship.  One more double-podium for Red Bull in a race where one or both Mercs dont finish, and we may have a season on our hands - even without the double-points in Abu Dhabi.

An interesting stat to finish on, and one which I dont think anyone saw coming at the start of the season.  Did you realise that todays win by a Renault-powered turbo engine was the first since the 1986 US Grand Prix??

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SessionLondon UKUnited States Circuit
Practice 1Friday 20 October
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2.00 pm
Practice 3Saturday 21 October
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2017 Calendar

RaceGrand PrixRace Day
1AustraliaSunday 26 March
2ChinaSunday 9 April
3BahrainSunday 16 April
4RussiaSunday 30 April
5SpainSunday 14 May
6MonacoSunday 28 May
7CanadaSunday 11 June
8AzerbaijanSunday 25 June
9AustriaSunday 9 July
10Great BritainSunday 16 July
11HungarySunday 30 July
12BelgiumSunday 27 August
13ItalySunday 3 September
14SingaporeSunday 17 September
15MalaysiaSunday 1 October
16JapanSunday 8 October
17United StatesSunday 22 October
18MexicoSunday 29 October
19BrazilSunday 12 November
20Abu DhabiSunday 26 November

2017 Driver Leaderboard

PlaceDriverTeamPoints
1HamiltonMercedes306
2VettelFerrari247
3BottasMercedes234
4RicciardoRed Bull192
5RäikkönenFerrari148
6VerstappenRed Bull111
7PerezForce India82
8OconForce India65
9SainzToro Rosso48
10HulkenbergRenault34
11MassaWilliams34
12StrollWilliams32
13GrosjeanHaas28
14MagnussenHaas15
15VandoorneMcLaren13
16AlonsoMcLaren10
17PalmerRenault8
18WehrleinSauber5
19KvyatToro Rosso4
20ButtonMcLaren0
21EricssonSauber0
22GiovinazziSauber0

2017 Constructor Leaderboard

PlaceTeamPoints
1Mercedes540
2Ferrari395
3Red Bull303
4Force India147
5Williams66
6Toro Rosso52
7Haas43
8Renault42
9McLaren23
10Sauber5