It is time to bring you up to speed with the latest key talking points from another busy day in the world of Formula 1.
Lewis Hamilton’s upcoming shock Ferrari switch understandably continues to dominate the headlines, though with Ferrari reportedly opening the doors for any fellow Mercedes defectors, a stumbling block has seemingly been uncovered for Hamilton’s long-standing race engineer Pete Bonnington.
We are just scratching the surface though on major headlines for the day, so let us dive into the action…
Gardening leave could delay Pete Bonnington to Ferrari
It has been widely reported in the Italian press that Hamilton will not arrive at Ferrari alone. He is expected to arrive flanked with fellow Mercedes figures also taking the plunge.
However, if one of those allies is Bonnington, Hamilton’s race engineer affectionately known as ‘Bono’, then the customary gardening leave period which exiting high-level team members are subject to could mean Hamilton starts Ferrari life without him.
“One complication is that Bonnington would have to stay with Mercedes until the final race of this season in Abu Dhabi on December 8th and then be available for Ferrari in early 2025, meaning a very tight transition in terms of the so-called ‘gardening leave’,” reports sport.de.
Carlos Sainz talks Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari and F1 future
Sainz has found himself ending up as collateral damage in Hamilton’s Ferrari switch, meaning he needs a new home on the F1 grid from 2025.
Speaking to Sky Italia, Sainz confirmed that he sensed the writing was on the wall, though he has no concerns over where his career will go from here.
“I am aware of what I am worth as a driver, and for that reason I am very calm when I look to the future,” he said.
Red Bull and Christian Horner set investigation meeting date
Red Bull Racing’s parent company, Red Bull GmbH, confirmed to PlanetF1.com on Monday that they have opened an internal investigation into team principal Horner, “after being made aware of certain recent allegations”.
PlanetF1.com now understands that Red Bull GmbH and Horner have a meeting scheduled on Friday February 9 in regards to the investigation, Horner having denied any wrongdoing.
‘Aggressive’ Stake F1 C44 not a Red Bull copycat
F1 2024 launch season is now well underway, the Stake F1 era getting up and running with the launch of their C44 challenger in central London, where PlanetF1.com, alongside other select F1 media, caught up with technical director James Key.
As part of an in-depth discussion, Key explained why Stake has resisted the temptation of producing a Red Bull copycat despite their 2023 dominance, as well as addressing a range of other topics as the “aggressive” C44 was unveiled.
Q: How tempting is it to copy Red Bull?
JK: “The thing with aerodynamics is you can see what other people have done but it’s so subtle.
“If we took a Red Bull front wing and went out, that car wouldn’t go any quicker and probably goes slower because it’s the rest of the car that isn’t compatible.
“So you can’t just copy a car and we saw that maybe last year when Aston Martin produced a very similar looking car to Red Bull because it wasn’t identical, but very similar, and performed a bit better, but it wasn’t suddenly put into the front.
“They did their own thing over winter, they made a great stride forward. So you’ve got to have control of your own destiny, if you try and just leave it to others to do that for you and you just take snapshots, it’s never going to work. Everything needs to become compatible.
“It’s not the geometries, it’s actually the flow physics around those geometries which counts and you can create that in more ways than one.
“So you have to be your own boss with this, which is why perhaps a great indicator of that was we turned up in ’22 and look at the massive difference in the top three teams. They were their own boss and they were close on performance levels ultimately. When Mercedes had a good day for them in those earlier periods, it was quick.
“So they skin the cat in a different way but you can still generate performance and so if it was as simple as copying a Red Bull, everyone would look like a Red Bull and we’d all be P1.”
Alex Albon distances himself from Mercedes/Red Bull rumours
F1 ‘silly season’ is now up and running in a major way, with Williams driver Albon widely tipped to be a driver who could play a key role in how the dominos continue to fall from here.
Mercedes and Red Bull are cropping up as mooted potential destinations, though Albon is focusing on the driving and leaving all of this stuff to his management team.
James Vowles, team boss at Williams, told media, including PlanetF1.com, that Albon is firmly under contract with Williams until the end of 2025, but Albon shared his perspective on the matter shortly afterward.
“I would be denying (sic) if I said that there have been questions and general chats around that already,” he said from the team’s launch of the FW46 in New York on Monday.
“But, truthfully, personally, it’s not really my area. That’s more management, and my focus is about driving.”