“It’s a shame Williams won’t take a gamble”
It’s been a twisting tale so far and, unfortunately, will most likely have featured an additional fast swerve some time after the story to the left was written and committed to print.
Christmas can be a bit of an odd time for weekly publications like Motorsport News. Due to print deadlines we have to commit to the stories as they stand just before the festive break, meaning working ahead of ourselves to a certain extent.
That’s not the most ideal scenario when you have a story such as the Bottas will-he-won’t-he leave and the Mercedes will-they-won’t-they pay for him saga.
While Mercedes stated there would be no firm announcement on which driver would partner Lewis Hamilton at the team until the New Year, those in the know are beginning to see the smoke clearing, and a distinctly Finnish figure beginning to emerge – and it’s not Kimi Raikkonen.
Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement last year hasn’t helped Mercedes a great deal. While there’s a very long line of drivers ready to queue up to race the best car on the grid, how many are actually suitable?
Having two strong, experienced drivers is undoubtedly the best way to keep a team at the front of the grid, especially during a year that will feature such sweeping changes to the technical regulations. Bottas would be the perfect fit. He has the experience, the development knowledge and the undoubted speed to give Hamilton a fight up front. It’s a good mix.
In comparison, surely Williams could have looked a bit further afield in its scope of options?
I get the need for experience, and Massa does bring consistency, but doesn’t it feel like he’ll be loping along for another, largely unwanted, season?
Massa took the decision to retire from F1. He wasn’t forced out. He decided to leave on his own terms. Surely that should be respected?
While it’s great to have one of F1’s most likeable drivers back in the paddock, it is a shame Williams couldn’t have broadened its scope a little.
Two rookies was never going to be ideal, but if you want experience, why not look at the huge pool of seasoned talent currently maligned from F1.
How about Jean-eric Vergne, who is currently plying his trade in Formula E having been ditched by Toro Rosso, perhaps unfairly, to make way for Carlos Sainz Jr. The Frenchman is still one of the most impressive drivers I’ve seen in junior formula, and never got the shot he deserved in F1.
Or how about Lucas di Grassi? Again he’s immensely talented and proven that in the World Endurance Championship many times. Eighteen F1 starts in an ailing Virgin Racing car hardly gave him the right platform to shine.
Or what about WEC champion Brendon Hartley, one of the quickest drivers in sportscars and a former Red Bull reserve. Or Sebastien Buemi, Loic Duval, Antonio Felix da Costa, Robin Frijns, Bruno Senna… the list goes on.
If Massa wanted to step back, Williams surely can’t say there weren’t any other options. And who knows, perhaps given the right car we’d have seen one of the ‘forgotten’ stars of F1 shine belatedly. Now it looks unlikely that we ever will.
Ben Hingeley will switch to race for Fortec Motorsports in his second campaign in the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship this year.
After claiming the Formula Jedi title in 2015, his first year of car racing, Hingeley graduated to the revamped British F3 Championship with HHC Motorsport last season.
Hingeley had an inconsistent campaign, but finished the season in strong form with podiums at Snetterton and Donington Park – where he also secured his first pole position – to finish 10th in the points.
Following HHC’S withdrawal from the championship at the end of the season, Hingeley had been looking for alternative options, and contested the Autumn Trophy event at Snetterton with Fortec last October.
He has since completed further testing mileage with the outfit, including a trip to Valencia in the middle of December.
“I am delighted to be returning to the British F3 Championship with Fortec Motorsports,” said 19-year-old Hingeley. “We have just returned from a fantastic few days testing in Valencia and I am feeling really confident for the coming season. Fortec is a professional team with a wealth of experience and I am looking forward to working with them.”
Hingeley is the team’s second driver confirmed for the 2017 season, with Nicolai Kjaergaard having also agreed a deal to race in F3 ( see racing news, page 7).
Hingeley heads to Fortec