D he game is not that easy, as the new Force India chief Lawrence Stroll imagined. The quick castling of his son to Force India is delivered with obstacles. To do this, Esteban Ocon must first find an alternative. Otherwise Mercedes will not allow this driver swap. Ocon has a contract with Force India until the end of the year. Stroll's original plan to fill the vacant position at Williams with Robert Kubica and push Ocon to McLaren has for the time being failed. McLaren didn't play along.
This is how one of the greatest Formula 1 talents becomes the plaything of interests and may end up without a cockpit at all. McLaren was interested in Ocon, but only if Mercedes had released him for a longer period. That means beyond 2019. Mercedes refused. If necessary, they wanted to be able to access the long French from 2020.
McLaren had therefore made Sergio Perez an offer to increase the pressure on Mercedes. But the Mexican prefers to stay with Force India. He has the first right to a seat there because it was he who initiated the bankruptcy that ultimately led to the rescue of the racing team.
Return of Alonso would be a luxury problem
McLaren was among the teams that agreed to rescue Force India under certain conditions. Like Renault, they fear Force India could become Mercedes' B-Team. Both warn that Formula 1 will soon be dominated by three super teams. Renault and McLaren would then be in the rain. So it makes sense to break the hostile alliances or at least make their lives as difficult as possible.
McLaren demanded something in return. From the FIA and F1 management that Force India will lose its voting rights. And that there will soon be clear rules of the game as to which parts you have to build yourself and which components should be standardized. A 50/50 solution would be ideal, say the rebels.
In Monza, the Ocon deal fell through. McLaren is now betting on its own offspring. In the next year, Lando Norris will drive alongside Carlos Sainz. “And this year Stoffel Vandoorne is bringing the season to an end for us,” said team principal Zak Brown in Monza.
McLaren still has one construction site. What if Fernando Alonso wants to go back in 2020 after his IndyCar excursion? Carlos Sainz has a two-year contract. The Spaniardwon't make room. The contract with Norris, however, should be flexible. Answer by Brown: 'If Fernando came back to us, that would be a luxury problem.'
This meant that the quick transfer from Stroll junior to Force India was also temporarily canceled. A nice side effect for McLaren is that they have driven such a wedge between Stroll and Mercedes. However, Mercedes still has alternatives. You could park Ocon at Williams for the rest of the year and then for 2019. With Williams’s current performance, this is not a dream destination, but better than nothing.
This position was originally intended for test driver Robert Kubica. But the use of Kubica becomes less and less likely the longer the season lasts. The Pole would have to pay back a seven-figure sum when he races his insurance for the first time. The fewer GP starts he gets for it, the less attractive the offer for Kubica.
Who is Toro Rosso pulling out of his hat?
Next year Lance Stroll will definitely land at Force India. Williams agreed to the Force India rescue anyway. The 2019 season is secured thanks to various severance payments. The bitter end comes a year later at the earliest. This leads to the curious situation that Williams is a worthwhile landing place for 2019. There aren't many left.
Assuming that the Russian SMP bank is securing Sergey Sirotkin's cockpit, there will be a race for the second seat. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is spoiled for choice: Esteban Ocon or Formula 2 leader George Russell. The confused situation means that Wolff is even questioning his own funding program. There are too few seats for too many pilots.
Toro Rosso also still has a free seat. A car is supposed to be manned with homecomer Daniil Kvyat. And the second? Lando Norris is no longer within reach. Daniel Ticktum should first be in the Japanese Super FormulaRepel horns. 'That has already done Gasly well,' said Head of Motorsport Helmut Marko.
Drivers with a Mercedes star on their chest are out of the question at Toro Rosso. No one is interested in Vandoorne. Marko announces another surprising solution. With Brendon Hartley, a year ago they pulled a driver out of his hat that nobody had on their radar.
Even Stoffel Vandoorne could end up empty-handed at the end of the season. Sauber team boss Frederic Vasseur wanted the Belgian, but encountered resistance. The Swedish owners insist on Marcus Ericsson, main sponsor Alfa Romeo on Ferrari Junior Antonio Giovinazzi. With only 20 cars and so many interests, talented drivers also fall by the wayside in the end.