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And just like that, Formula 1’s Silly Season begins. Rumors over the weekend have McLaren making contact with Lewis Hamilton with regards to a potential return or at least an open invitation to have a discussion about a possible return.

While the Daily Telegraph says that the contact was made, it also ponders the type of situation it would take to make that happen. It suggests that a possible loss of the Driver’s Championship to Nico Rosberg might be a catalyst.

Some of that may depend on if Hamilton feels he was not dealt with fairly and it will be in Mercedes AMG Petronas’s best interest to insure that equity is present in their team dynamic. Perhaps that is what the earlier statement we mentioned here was for when Mercedes chief Toto Wolff said that they are all about total transparency at the team.

Other rumors have a possible connection between McLaren and former driver Fernando Alonso who left after the 2007 season under not-so-good terms. The 2-time champion has not made much mystery of his displeasure at Ferrari having joined the team in 2010 with no titles to show for his efforts.

I’ve certainly advocated a possible return to McLaren as the only realistic option for Alonso unless Red Bull or Mercedes had a seat open for him but it is a roll of the dice with McLaren’s new engine partner, Honda, coming on board next year and one would presume it will take time to cut their teeth in the crucible of F1’s new 2014 power unit regulations.

What about Red Bull? We’ve read Dr. Helmut Marko’s comments regarding 4-time champion Sebastian Vettel as needing to raise his game while praising young Australian Daniel Ricciardo and for very good reason. Ricciardo is having a terrific settling-in season with the team besting his champion teammate for the majority of the season so far.

Could the allure of Ferrari be enough to get Sebastian to consider moving? One issue is current contracts and if memory serves, Vettel’s goes until 2016 so this may not be an option unless there is a exit clause. Perhaps Ferrari could sweeten the deal by bringing Ross Brawn back to take Jean Todt’s old role and bring the Italians back to their winning ways just as he did for Mercedes?

It’s always fun to speculate on silly season so let’s hear your best speculation as to what you think might happen. It doesn’t have to be just the top two drivers either. What about Jenson Button, Nico Hulkenberg, Kimi Raikkonen or even Jules Bianchi? Any thoughts you might like to share with us below?

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • FerrariF1Fan

    As a diehard Ferrari fan who grew up during the Schumacher era, it kills me that I’m much more concerned about what engineers they get and when instead of who is driving the car.

    If you’re going to have the same shit engineers designing the same shit box, then at least sign Susie Wolff. At least she’d give us something nice to look at.

    • F1Kat

      Ask Wolff :-)

  • Ian Robinson

    McLaren have got to get rid of that whinger Button, only reason he’s there is because he was gifted a championship and then outed by Merc.
    I’d like to see the hulk move into a better drive maybe the McLaren or a Fezza.
    Kimi will no doubt take the first option out of Ferrari that includes free reign and vodka.
    As for Alonso, I still think he’s best off where he is, McLaren is too much of a gamble and Redbull I think would want to keep hold of Seb.
    Lewis isn’t going anywhere.

  • Daniel

    We cannot not remember all the great F1 analysts who “annihilated” Schumacher during the first year following his return, when he was beated by Rosberg in a few races. The fight waged by the now bedridden German was fiercer than what Raikkonen is facing. The same great analysts now find excuses for Kimi for being slaughtered by Alonso. Raikkonen is a great talent but does not work for his results which means he’s not a great sportsman. Another good race for Alonso, but we’re asking ourselves, much like he is: what’s the point?

  • Morton

    Any chance Max replacing Button at McLaren?
    He’s been matching Bianchi so far this season (Q: M 3 – 5 B, Race: M 4 – 4 B) and he is British no.3 you know.

    • Ian Robinson

      I’d like to see Max move up, but even better score some points himself ;)

  • Manuel G

    Im going to make really really unlikely predictions just for the fun of it. so yeah here it goes.

    Ferrari / Hulkenberg and Raikkonen
    Mclaren / Alonso and Magnussen
    Mercedes/ Nico Rosberg and Vettel
    Red Bull / Hamilton and Ricciardo
    Force India / Perez and (Maybe Button though I doubt he would go for a midfield drive, maybe a new driver or maybe even Kvyat)

    anyway I know there is too much conflict with current contract terms, but sometimes it’s fun to imagine what could happen in another world. The end of the season should be interesting.

  • The Captain

    Ok, two thoughts on this. First, if Hulkenberg doesn’t get in a top team next year I’m going to be madder at the state of F1 than I am now over the engines!

    Two, I’d bet that the Honda engine is at least going to be better than the Renault and Ferrari right out of the box. Next year the Renault and Ferrari are still going to be the same fundamental designs they are now due to the stupid rules, but I’d bet the Honda designers are working overtime to split the turbos like the Merc or innovate a number of other things that idea road may head down.

    • They have about 18 months in order to make some performance and reliability upgrades and if memory serves (I haven’t read Jeff’s link) the percentages of upgrades go from 80% down to zero over that time frame. Just an FYI. :)

  • Captain, Power Unit manufacturers can indeed alter their fundamental designs for 2015. FIA has assigned individual PU components what it’s calling a token value, totaling 66 for the entire unit. Next year, manufacturers can, well, “spend” or designate 32 of the 66 items for redesign. Token weighting for the components is listed on pgs.88-89 of the following:
    http://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/regulation/file/1-2014%20TECHNICAL%20REGULATIONS%202014-01-23_0.pdf

    It’s true that, say, Renault, is unable to scrap its entire current PU, but there’s still large scope for modification.

    • MIE

      But will they still be chasing Mercedes? I don’t think that they will remain undeveloped.
      Meanwhile Honda have to get much more of their design right first time, as they have much less freedom to develop in their second year.

      • MIE, apologies late response, but thought your points worth discussing.

        I agree, the current power train landscape will change. However, those behind are at distinct disadvantage; it’ll take heculean efforts to catch the Merc moving target.

        For example, if Renault wants to “split” its turbo, it’ll cost more than the 6 tokens under “pressure-charging.” Depending on what solution it employs, -H design, upper crankcase, inlet ducting, etc must be altered.

        It’s a good thing, Renault (or Ferrari or Merc) having leeway to completely re-engineer its product, but as each component’s knock-on effect is apparently so drastic, Renault is disadvantaged by having no data on the new configuration. Merc in contrast can luxuriate in refining its package, perhaps more/less spool from a different turbine size, rather than a philosophy shift. This assumes Merc doesn’t scrap its power train ideology, of course… :P

        I’ve “priced” out what I think Renault would want changed, and come up 6 tokens short; base guesswork, but as 2015 is its best chance to make wholesale changes, I think it’ll react conservatively, looking to close the gap rather than overtake Merc. The failure risk is too great, considering the decreasing year-to-year token allotment.

        An interesting discussion might be a Renault withdrawal and intellectual property/development sale to Nissan/Infiniti. The former might negotiate a higher-than value sale price to its partner, the latter in turn benefiting from the 2014 data and the right, as a “new” engine supplier, to disregard the token system and alter what it likes.

        Good point on Honda; many have said they’re proximity to Merc in Mclaren’s garage means they’ll automatically come out with a great PU. I doubt Merc engineers are allowing Honda workers near turbine housings or inlets/outlets w/ rulers, nor sharing engine mapping, temps, or any other data. Theoretical and testing data is no substitute for practical.

  • Phil

    McLaren should pursue LeBron James. He’s a free agent this year.

  • rapierman

    Here’s my picks (mind you, I made these picks about a month and a half ago):

    1. Hamilton will leave Mercedes for Williams.
    2. Kobayashi will leave Caterham for Mercedes and gladly take on the role of second driver to Rosberg.
    3. Sutil will leave Sauber, period. Nobody else will take him.
    4. Sauber will promote Sergey Sirotkin to second driver instead. Whether or not that remains to be a good move is anyone’s guess.
    5. Vettel will leave Red Bull for Ferrari.
    6. Raikkonen will leave Ferrari for Force India.
    7. Kvyat will transfer from Toro Rosso to Red Bull.
    8. Sergio Perez will be let go from Force India, period. So much potential wasted. Oh, well.
    9. Force India will promote James Calado to second driver.
    8. Maldonado will be booted out of Lotus.
    9. Lotus will bring in Antonio Felix da Costa as second driver.
    10. Alexander Rossi will drive for the new Haas team
    11. As will Conor Daly.

    WDC finish:

    Well, it seems to me that the first two are obvious:

    1. Hamilton
    2. Rosberg

    Since the real battle starts at third, I’m thinking:

    3. Ricciardo
    4. Alonso
    5. Vettel
    6. Hulkenberg
    7. Button
    8. Bottas
    9. Massa
    10. Magnussen

    WCC Finish:

    Mercedes appears to be the clear favorite to win it all, and I’m not going to argue with it, so I think it’ll look like this:

    1. Mercedes
    2. Red Bull
    3. Ferrari
    4. McLaren
    5. Force India
    6. Williams
    7. Toro Rosso
    8. Sauber
    9. Caterham
    10. Marussia

    Extra Silly Picks:

    Easy to say that Haas F1 will be here next year (except that he just announced that he’ll delay a year, so there goes that idea). That we already know, so that doesn’t count. Here are the real Extra Silly Picks:

    1. Three works teams will appear, all based on American manufacturers: Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Coporation and General Motors
    2. Another independent team will appear, based on a partnership between Bill Gates and Mark Cuban.
    3. The FIA will change its rules concerning qualifiers to be either the top 30 drivers or whoever stays in the 107% rule, whichever is less. No exceptions granted unless “force majure” comes into play.
    4. Renault will make an appearance as a works team.
    5. All Renault engines will be replaced by Honda engines.
    6. Nissan and Subaru will also appear as works teams.
    7. New payout structure will appear, paying each driver and team bonus money according to their finish in each race.
    8. Formula 1 will get a title sponsor to pay for all related expenses, gas/petrol included.
    9. Bernie Ecclestone will be forced to leave Formula 1.
    10. Prices, fees, etc., are lowered as Formula 1 is made viable and more readily available to the masses.
    11. All auto manufacturers will bring their own engines.
    12. V-8s return, but with quieter engines.
    13. All teams will adapt Mercedes’ new turbo design (hey, that was pure genius on their part).
    14. Ross Brawn will return to the Team Principal position…of McLaren.

    That should do it.

  • PM

    I’m just waiting for Eddie Jordan’s predictions. They are usually spot on.