With not much happening on the transfer market and no testing till next week it was team news and team rumours that made the headlines towards the end of last week and over the weekend.
The Alonso “no news” seems to be confirming my theory that nothing will happen until the Renault spy case is dealt with. We may still have few weeks before things start moving and drivers begin the final shuffle.
So, let’s get to Renault. With all the opinions being voiced there seems to be media pressure piling up for severe punishment for Renault. It looks like the only party that still says Renault should not be penalized is Flavio Briatore. There are warnings coming from all over the web that FIA and Mosley may face serious backlash should Renault get away lightly. It is widely expected that Renault will be at least fined and will have some or all points taken away (and as a result will become McLaren’s neighbours at the end of the pit lane next year). However as Renault already admitted to things that were never proven to McLaren in their case, some (like GrandPrix dot com) even suggest a possibilty of a ban.
It gets interesting, some sites warn that Ghosn will pull Renault out of F1 if the are severely punished, now we have others that warn that Renault actually can be banned :-). And of course there are already solutions prepared for Renault for both possibilities. Ghosn will pull Renault out and sell the team to Prodrive. Or Renault gets banned and will remain in F1 using 3rd party identity – most likely their engine operation Mecachrome.
The fact that Renault just signed new 3 year deal with Mecachrome International however does not suggest Renault plans to quit F1 anytime soon… Mecachrome International has announced that it renewed its contract with Renault Sport, on an exclusive basis, for the manufacture and assembly of Formula One engines developed by Renault Sport.
“Renault Sport and Mecachrome have been collaborating for many years in the high performance motor sports sector, particularly in the Formula One World Championship, and have developed a long-term partnership based on their respective know-how and experience.”
Prodrive no show in 2008 is now official. It would be interesting to see how will FIA react to this. When Toyota delayed their entry by a year (2002 instead of 2001) they had to forfeit their USD11 million deposit. Prodrive applied for the entry under different conditions and with a game plan that is not workable any more. Will FIA accept part of the blame for the whole fiasco and simply give Prodrive extra time ? Or will they open a new round of applications for the 12th team clearly stating customer cars are not a way to enter ?
Super Aguri, a customer car outfit whether they admit it or not, axed 30 jobs. For a company that only has 120 people on the payroll this is a major downsizing. The future of the team does not look exactly rosy, especially should they be forced into building their own cars. There have been many rumours about possible investors or buyers, I would not be surprised if something happens rather sooner than later. Perhaps even before they confirm their drivers as new partner may want to have some say about who races for the team.
Unlike Super Aguri, Williams seem to have fixed their immediate financial problems. Frank Williams again sterssed that Nico Rosberg is not for sale and one of the reasons is, he does need the money as desperatelly as was the case year ago:
“How am I going to go with that to the people in the factory, and to the sponsors? I keep telling them that we want to be back up there at the top, and if I sold our best driver then I might as well sell the team. A year ago I might have weakened because we really needed the money. But this is no longer the case.”
Oh, well, there was an activity on the drivers market, Ralf Schumacher made himself available for McLaren Oh, Ralf …