Clip The Apex
There is some speculation that Audi are going to join F1 in 2016, by combining their budgets for DTM and WEC. The article I've attached states that they've hired Stefano Domenicali, who I don't think has any endurance racing or touring car experience. If this is true, and Audi do join F1, could Fernando Alonso join the German marque in 2016 if he takes a sabbatical year next season? I can't see McLaren agreeing to a 1-year deal with Nando.
All this is idle speculation of course, but if Audi do join, prompted by the new fuel-efficient technologies, could we see a revival of the manufacturer dominance of the early 2000's and an answer to the ever-present problems of the financial situation of F1's participants, as summed up by Caterham's issues this week?
If Audi do join, it can surely only be good for the sport. It would provide an incentive for other manufacturers to join, theoretically provide greater competition to Mercedes (of course, Audi, Mercedes and BMW are great German rivals) and provide greater security for the size of F1's grid in the years to come, especially with the American team Haas joining. F1 certainly has problems in the way it is run - one only has to briefly skim over the financial malaise of some of the smaller teams. Hopefully, this potential development combined with Bernie (hopefully!) providing greater financial security to the teams and not his bland investors who care nothing for the sport, will ensure F1's security and relevance for the next few decades at least.
With Russian stamps all over their passports the members of the F1 Community now have to work their way past the Officers of Homeland Security at Austin-Bergstrom International airport. I hope they all remember to tick the "I have never been a member of a terrorist organisation" box on their visa waivers and smile sweetly for their security photo.
Enough of the nonsense, there's a Grand Prix to watch and enjoy. Remember 2012? We had a titanic battle for the lead between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton until a cucumber intervened and Lewis sneaked past for the win. Wow, we all thought, what a great race track. 2013 brought us down to earth with a bump as Vettel took pole and an easy win, although in fairness to the circuit he did that most weekends in 2013.
So what for 2014? The Mercedes drivers will, almost certainly, take the first two grid slots and, on current form, it would be hard to see past another Hamilton victory. But anything can happen in F1 and it often does. Nico Rosberg desperately needs a win in Austin not just for the points boost but also in the psychological battle with his team mate. Williams will probably be the best of the rest with Austin likely to suit their car. Could Bottas sneak a win? Unlikely, although I suspect a Massa win is even more unlikely.
Behind these McLaren seem to be on the way back up and are putting the upstarts at Force India in their place. Fourth and fifth in Russia was pretty good result compared to some of the events they have contested this year. Red Bull and Ferrari will be snapping away at one another, well Ricciardo and Alonso will be snapping away at one another whilst Vettel dreams of a bright red race suit and who knows what Kimi dreams of, vodka, ice cream, being beaten with a birch twig, his 2015 contract?
Toro Rosso had a really good show in Sochi but as soon as the race started they appeared to jump out of the way of the senior RB team. Perhaps their race set up just wasn't as good as their qualifying from suggested.
Down at the back we could have an American driver at Marussia with Alexander Rossi lined up to take the place of Jules Bianchi. I think it unlikely Marussia will choose to only run a single car again and it will be interesting to see how this young man does in a not so competitive F1 car. He's not having a great season in GP2 but I don't follow the series well enough to tell you if that is down to him or the car. I do suspect he will beat Max Chilton but then I suspect I could beat Max Chilton (is that could or want to?).