Off Season: Change Places!

If this is your first week back at work after the Christmas break, then spare a thought for the guys and girls in the PR offices across the F1 sphere. Those at Force India and Ferrari have been thrust into overtime, battling the media and the rumour mill since 2011 crashed into life.

Barely into the first week of the year and we’re already up to our necks in gossip; engineers let go at the Prancing Horse, Liuzzi/di Resta/Sutil battle for the 2 seats at Force India and who’s this at HRT?

Ferrari: Heads will roll

Looking back at Abu Dhabi (if you’re a Ferrari fan then close your eyes), Ferrari had lost the driver’s title at the hands of the decision to follow Mark Webber into the pits, this strategy led the call for heads to roll. Roberto Calderoli (far-right Italian politician) demanded that the Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo should quit. Quite the dramatic claim, but it seemed to be in an attempt to garner more media attention for himself.

(Open your eyes Ferrari fans) Now we’ve learnt that Stefano Domenicali had considered vacating his seat on the pitwall after the Abu Dhabi incident. It is rather unfair to boil the whole season down to one race (or the German GP for that matter), because in despite of these two obvious failings they were impressive. The car was not up to scratch and they slipped behind McLaren and Red Bull early on, but against this Alonso marched to within 10pts of Sebastian Vettel.

You will not make me go...

However this week, the big news is that Pat Fry has replaced Chris Dyer as head of race track engineering. Dyer hasn’t left the team, but his role will be ‘redefined’ after his advice left Alonso in 7th behind Vitaly Petrov. Hardly fair, but with the pressure mounting at home for the team it would be naive to think nothing would happen as a result.

And talking of the German superstar, there have been considerable chatter regarding Vettel’s next move. Felipe Massa’s contract has been renewed until 2012; but if he has a repeat of this season, then it is entirely plausible that he won’t remain at Ferrari and Vettel takes his place.

Force India: It’s anyone’s guess

Now, now , now. What’s going on here? With the Lotus Renault/Team Lotus debacle having died down recently (apart from Lotus Renault will be unveiling their new livery at the Autosport show), we needed something to fill the space.

Step forward Force India.

With their seats lying empty over Christmas, we needed someone to brush off the snow and reveal who would be occupying them. Last year Jackie Stewart declared Scottish driver Paul di Resta worthy of a F1 seat and the great opportunity to have 3 GBR drivers on the grid.

So the rumour mill got to work, and at the beginning of the week it was believed something would be announced on Tuesday. The build up was immense, Liuzzi was out, Sutil and di Resta were in. Or was it Liuzzi and di Resta? Where was Hulkenberg going to go?

What's the line-up for next year then?

Tuesday came and went. Not a whisper from the team.

Then Liuzzi piped up. Talking to 422race.com he stated that he had not heard anything from the team in relation to the 2011 season, and that he had a ‘contract to drive’ for them.

“…for me only the team’s words are valid. I’m staying pretty quiet because I have a very clear contract with the team for the 2011 season and, should they decide to take another route, I will know about it.”

Exactly.

So much like with the Lotus thing, we’re just going to have to sit and wait on this one.

HRT: Out with the old and in with the (almost) new

Just as we were all catching our breath from the swirling storm around Force India, Narain Karthikeyan announced on Twitter that he’ll be driving for HRT in the upcoming 2011 season.

Narain Karthikeyan in his A1 Grand Prix days

He became the first Indian F1 driver in 2005 when he drove for Jordan; following that season with a couple of test season with Williams. Without an option after 2009 he spent the year in the American Nascar Truck series. HRT have yet to confirm this, and are expected to this Friday, so keep your ear to the ground.

Later rookies!

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