The F1 Summer Break: Engines, Driver Changes and Feuds

Philip Boeckman

We're barely a week into the traditional summer break in Formula One, and the circus is already in town. Already, we have a number of developments, stories and gossip to keep us going until the end of August, where we'll go racing again at Spa.

In what should be a relatively uneventful month for the teams - they're not allowed to open emails let alone work on their cars - the main talk this week has surrounded engines, manufacturers and deals. 

There are three teams that are chasing new engine partners next season, the most well-known being McLaren. Their issues with Honda has plagued the team for the best part of two years now, and there's little sign that the Japanese manufacturers are going to produce a title-winning power unit next season. A number of teams engine providers have been linked in recent months, Mercedes being the most obvious one. Ferrari, too, have been linked in what would be an utterly astounding move by McLaren. Cosworth, once regulars in the sport back in the halcyon days of the 70s and 80s, have been linked with a return, but such a partnership would be more risky than continuing with Honda.

The latest constructor to have cosied up to McLaren is Renault. Back as a standalone manufacturer after a long sabbatical, the rumour is that they want to power McLaren next season. They already provide engines to Red Bull, and with a race-win in the bag already this year, they have shown the potential is there to mix it with the frontrunners. 

Quite what McLaren would gain out of such a deal is questionable. Renault is hardly going to provide them with an engine that is better than their own teams, whilst Red Bull are several years ahead of them in terms of engine development. If McLaren are ever to return to the F1 top table, they need to do it with a standalone CPU. As it stands, Honda are their best bet, however bleak that may seem.

Elsewhere, Torro Rosso are also on the lookout for new engine partners next season. It seems unlikely they will continue with Renault, and a new CPU represents their best chance to emerge from the shadows of sister team Red Bull and progress up the field. They have been linked with a deal with Honda, providing the latter pull out of McLaren. Such a tie-up would be very lucrative for STR, allowing them a greater budget for development and recruitment.

Sauber meanwhile, perennial strugglers at the back of the grid, have decided to remain with Ferrari for the foreseeable future. They too were sniffing around Honda to power them next season, but they decided at the eleventh hour to stick with what they know. Quite what made them to change their minds is unknown, but the prospect of a strong Ferrari engine next season and the 'loaning' of young Scuderia driver Charles Le Clerc probably played a part. 

Away from engines and onto drivers, and it seems we're on the cusp of a major driver change during the summer break. For the past couple of months, Robert Kubica has been linked with a miraculous return to the sport. The Pole, once dubbed a future world champion, has not raced in F1 since sustaining career-wrecking arm injuries during a 2007 rally crash. His recovery has been quite unbelievable, and in recent week she has been testing with Renault. 

This week, he was handed the chance to clock some miles in the new generation of cars, and he didn't disappoint. His lap times were incredibly consistent and amongst the fastest on the grid. What's more, he surpassed the 300 kilometres needed to gain a super license to enable him to race in F1.

The talk, therefore, is that he'll be fast-tracked into Renault ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix next month. Jolyon Palmer, who has hugely underperformed this season and paled against his superior team mate Nico Hulkenburg, is rumoured to be out of the team. He's effectively a pay-driver, and news reports have indicated he's only paid to race until Spa. Whether or not he races in Belgium next month, it seems only a matter of time before Kubica returns to the sport.

Philip Boeckman

Huge fan of @F1 and Motor Racing in general. I blog about anything and everything from the world of Formula 1