Andamento (not too) lento


Domino effect in Formula 1 seats? We’re already looking ahead to 2025 even though the engines for 2024 haven’t been fired up yet; everyone wants to get ahead of the game, but at Mercedes the driver could be from within the house, and above all, Italian. Many other topics, such as the innovations introduced by the F1 Commission and an internal news that could unsettle Red Bull.

The news of Hamilton’s transfer from Mercedes to Ferrari in the 2025 season has caused a shake-up in the F1 landscape, an event that has overshadowed news that, in other years, would have taken the top headlines in a February already rich in events, such as the anticipation of the presentations of the 2024 cars and the subsequent tests before the inaugural Grand Prix.

In addition to this, there’s also the exclusion (for now) of what was supposed to be the eleventh team, as Formula 1 has responded negatively to Andretti’s request, despite the American team having obtained clearance from the FIA.

The dynamics are incredible, with Formula 1 reportedly contacting the Andretti team on December 12th, inviting the team’s leadership to submit their application, a request that was not accepted and justified by the suspicion that the email had ended up in spam.

Returning to the Hamilton-Ferrari transfer, which has already triggered a domino effect for 2025, even though the 2024 season has not yet begun. This operation could broaden the field much more than imagined. Rumors are becoming persistent that the Englishman wants to surround himself with the most trusted figures, with a key role in success. However, it seems quite challenging to convince these Mercedes personnel to move en masse to Maranello. Following in the footsteps of Schumacher, for example, who convinced Ross Brawn to join the red project from Benetton to Ferrari. However, before a full-time role, the gardening period in the transfer from one team to another must be observed.

So, we’re looking at a 2024 season that hasn’t even started yet, which risks passing as a transitional season. Alexander Albon, a sought-after asset in the market after his excellent previous season with Williams, reportedly received a three-year offer to return to Red Bull. His performances weren’t up to the current second driver Perez, and there’s a need for a driver coveted by other teams, clearly a second to Verstappen.

A return like Ricciardo’s? The Thai driver would return to where he grew up, having risked years ago to completely disappear from the radar of the Grand Circus. During the recent presentation of Williams, team principal James Wowles wanted to clarify the situation definitively: “There have been many rumors, and usually I don’t bother to deny them, but in this case, I emphasize that Alexander Albon has signed with Williams until 2025.”

The most delicate situation is at Mercedes, forced to give the captain’s armband to Russell and, for the first time, to do without a titled driver, an image man with development capabilities, especially for the car. For Toto Wolff, the situation represents almost a déjà-vu of Rosberg, who at the end of 2016 unexpectedly decided to retire fresh from the title. “I believe that a few weeks ago, some contracts were signed that we could have evaluated and that could have been interesting, but timing has somewhat penalized us. In a sense, I always like changes because they offer opportunities in the same way we embraced Nico’s situation, which was equally unexpected. I can’t wait to make the right decisions for the team along with my colleagues on who will be behind the wheel next year. And perhaps it’s an opportunity to do something courageous“.

If Hamilton’s transfer to Ferrari has been compared to Ronaldo’s to Juventus, the courageous aspect Wolff speaks of has a precise profile, but above all, it carries the tricolor flag; let’s broaden the field as if it were the Sinner of Formula 1, it’s called Andrea Kimi Antonelli. The Bolognese, born in 2006, will debut this season in Formula 2, and if successful, could join Russell in 2025, a name with a destiny sign and a reverse design, because given Hamilton’s move from Mercedes to Ferrari, this time a Kimi (remembering Raikkonen, the last world champion in 2007 with the red team) would go to wear the Silver Arrows suit.

A strong bond between the team principal and the parents of the Emiliano talent. Wolff himself spoke positively about him in an interview on the F1 website. For the young Antonelli, a rapid ascent in the lower formulas, so much so that he skipped the Formula 3 ranks, catapulted directly into what can be called the appetizer of the top series, in a path where Hamilton’s previous renewal at Mercedes (1 year + 1), coincided with the desire to focus on the young Italian on the rise for 2026. A risk that Red Bull has accustomed us to, with the difference of being able to dispose of the younger sister, first Toro Rosso, then Alpha Tauri now Visa Cash, as a school to gain experience and assess progress regardless of the results considering the means available, such as Ferrari, when it maximized the collaboration with the former Alfa Romeo – Sauber (now renamed Visa Cash) and the experience before Leclerc and then Giovinazzi, to that of Haas unfortunately gone wrong for Mick Schumacher.

Photos of Antonelli’s visit to the Mercedes team headquarters are public, with technicians and mechanics smiling in front of what could be a new course, for a scenario at this point, truly unpredictable. Finally, as if the already many news were not enough, in the last few hours an earthquake seems to be shaking even Red Bull, with team principal Horner reportedly under internal investigation for alleged inappropriate behavior towards an employee, to the point of pushing the team’s top management to even ask for his resignation.

All news that testify to a far from slow pace, what happened in recent days destabilizes more than the whole past season, certainly it would be better to write about facts that concern strictly competition, such as the important agreement reached in recent hours between the F1 Commission and the teams on three very delicate topics, such as sprint races, the use of DRS, and the number of power units available for the entire season.

The weekend program changes where sprint races are scheduled. The new format will see on Fridays a session of free practice and sprint qualifying. On Saturday morning, there will be the sprint race followed in the afternoon by the qualifying of the usual Sunday race.

There are also changes regarding action on the track because the use of DRS, i.e., the rear wing mobile used by the following driver when the gap is less than one second, can be used already at the end of the first lap or restart behind the Safety-Car, and the number of engines available per driver has been raised from three to four, beyond which replacement will be allowed subject to grid penalties.

The feeling remains that the Hamilton-Ferrari bombshell news may be just the first of many expected moves in the coming months.

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Andrea La Rosa

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Andrea La Rosa

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