BY WAGNER GONZALEZ
In a moment of pure and simple inspiration, Milton Nascimento wrote "Meetings and farewells", a song that explores the daily life of a train station, something very appropriate for a category like F1 that continues to show itself around the world.
Next weekend ends a tour marked not only by the overwhelming dominance of Mercedes-Benz y Lewis Hamilton, but also by a series of changes large enough to guarantee shipments, landings, dreams and nightmares by 2021, beginning with the renewal of the association of its main protagonists. They are the arrivals and departures of the same trip that Nascimento wrote in one of the verses of that song.
As of Thursday, Hamilton had yet to renew his contract with Mercedes-Benz, which leaves open if he is seeking an eighth world title. The arrival of an unprecedented event in the history of the category is opposed to the departure of someone who has a lifestyle peculiar to the standards of F.1, enjoys both the pleasures that allow him a considerable fortune and embarking on new projects, such as the creation of a team focused on off-road tests with electric cars. His personal fortune, close to 300 million, allows choices of such magnitude.
In this decision, the move of his guru and boss Toto wolff, a member of the Anglo-German team and living in a similar situation, history weighs in on him: staying at Mercedes means a commitment to keeping the team above its rivals. That would add little to a resume that would have much more to gain by repeating this feat with the future team. Aston Martin Racing, a company that has everything to become the group's supercar brand Daimler. Without Toto in the Mercedes team, Hamilton's maintenance in the cabin he has occupied since 2013 is debatable.
In F.1 millionaire poker, Hamilton was unmoved by accepting the first offer and doubled his bet by postponing negotiations until after securing the 2020 title. Courtesy of COVID-19, a stowaway passenger on that trip, Stevenage's Englishman certainly got a chance to see his compatriot shine George Russell aboard his Mercedes-AMG F1 W10, the car he drove this year to the Bahrain Grand Prix. In the pseudo-oval of Sakhir, Russell showed an overall performance above Valtteri Bottas, came out in the front row, led a good part of the race and only the bad strategy of the team prevented a consecrating result that could have been victory.
Adopted a few years ago by the German team's driver development program, Russell is sponsored by Wolff and his resume classifies him as a champion with more than just potential than that alone. His star, however, seems to shine behind with his performances and the unforeseen event that prevented a probable first win, something that is repeated in his time with the team of Williams. In any case, you are assigned an armchair in the first-class car on that trip.
The same cannot be said for veterans and newcomers in today's arena. Winner of the weekend race after falling to last place on the first lap, Sergio Pérez remains off the list of participants for 2021. Of the four places potentially available for next year, the chances that the Mexican inherit one are concentrated in Red Bull y Williams. The former continues to pressure the Anglo-Thai Alex Albon, who in season and a half showed ups and downs aboard a car that is an authentic dish seasoned to the taste of the first driver of the team, the Dutch Max Verstappen.
The cash gap caused by Aston Martin's sponsorship exit could be filled with dollars from Perez's personal sponsors and help buy the engine's intellectual property Honda. Demote Albon to the team AlphaTauri would be to cancel the shipment of Yuki tsunoda and affect the deal with the Japanese brand.
Williams' option would be the big change in the market: it would involve the possible retirement of Hamilton, the inevitable transfer of Russell to take his place, and the offering of a still virgin painting from healthy backers. This equation would be a prize for Dorilton Capital, an investment company that saved Frank Williams' team from bankruptcy and has extensive knowledge of the rules of the game in the capital markets.
The proposed Liberty Media, owner of the commercial rights to F.1, to improve the cash and competitiveness of smaller teams can guarantee the Grove team a welcome upgrade to business class after a few seasons traveling without the right to board even with a suitcase hand .
At the other end of the grid, the confirmation of the Russian Nikita mazepin As a Haas team driver for 2021 it is the business of the economy class car. Eager to have an F.1 team, Dmitry mazepin competed to buy Force India at its peak, but was defeated by Lawrence stroll, who today associated the team with Aston Martin, another company managed by the Canadian consortium where he is the commander.
Like Stroll, the Russian also bets on the potential of his son, who still carries the image of a fast, but irregular and daring pilot. In addition, last weekend he was involved in two accidents in the F-2 race, one of which caused the Brazilian to leave the track. Felipe Drugovich, one of the big winners of the category this season. Judging by hindsight, the $ 40 million invested in Haas could have more return with the German Mick Schumacher, son of champion Michael and adopted Ferrari official, who brings the engine, gearbox and a multitude of components to the team that, for now, still has a Gene Haas as the largest shareholder. Don't be surprised if the 2021 train marks the return journey for this American businessman.