F1’s ‘silly season’ is bursting into life at Monza — and almost every team in pitlane is playing ball.
That goes even for the sport’s dominant Mercedes, and one of the highest-paid and most marketable stars, Lewis Hamilton.
Boss Toto Wolff had already lifted the lid by warning that if the Briton and his teammate Nico Rosberg do not fix up their broken relationship, Mercedes might have to change its lineup for 2015.
He repeated the warning on Friday.
“My statements were about what would happen if we wouldn’t get on top of it and this is something obviously which is a very, very worst-case vision and I don’t think that we were ever going to get there,” said Wolff.
Even so, the warning is now made. Could it be connected to Hamilton’s “frozen” contractual negotiations, and rumours at Monza that Mercedes is trying to drive down the value of the 2008 world champion’s next deal?
Hamilton is also now linked with shock moves to McLaren, or even Ferrari.
Is that why Fernando Alonso on Thursday was being so complimentary when he looked back at their apparently poisonous pairing at McLaren in 2007?
Would the Spaniard prefer Hamilton as his 2015 teammate over the struggling Kimi Raikkonen?
“(At McLaren) it never was a problem with Lewis,” Alonso said. “It didn’t work because of the team. I never had a problem with Lewis and it’s not a surprise today that we still have a good relationship.”
That does appear a long shot, but it seems clear that Mercedes is looking at its current pairing and wondering if it makes sense for the image of the brand and to best capitalise on performance.
“If they (Rosberg and Hamilton) were more disciplined no one would be able to keep in touch with them,” the visiting Flavio Briatore said at Monza on Friday.
“For me there has to always be a first driver and a second.”
Even the academics agree, including Dr Paolo Aversa of London’s Cass Business School who has concluded that pairings like Rosberg and Hamilton do not work.
“Toto Wolff now realises the internal conflict between Hamilton and Rosberg could lead to Daniel Ricciardo finishing between the two Silver Arrows teammates,” he is quoted by The Times.
“It looks increasingly unlikely that both Hamilton and Rosberg will be lining up for Mercedes next season,” he added.
“Their on and off track clashes are symptomatic of two roosters in the henhouse, which is statistically proven to decrease performance.” (GMM)