What we’ve learnt this week is a weekly round-up of all the paddock news and gossip, we will bring you all the stories from the teams and drivers. This week we bring you the stories following the Italian Grand Prix which is dominated by McLaren this week.
Vandoorne Out, Norris In:
McLaren have finalised their driver lineup for 2019 after confirming 18-year-old Lando Norris will partner Carlos Sainz. The news did not come as a massive shock as his participation in FP1 in Spa and Monza indicated McLaren’s direction for their driver lineup. Lando Norris sits currently second in the Formula 2 drivers standings in his debut season and has a very high reputation in the junior categories with Zak Brown eager to promote the McLaren Junior.
“We believe Lando is an exciting talent, full of potential, who we’ve very deliberately kept within the McLaren fold for exactly that reason.”
There was much speculation as to whether Lando would drive for Toro Rosso with their current driver dilemma but Red Bull were not keen on signing someone else’s driver.
This all of course comes at the expense of Stoffel Vandoorne who has had an up and down 2 seasons at McLaren, he hasn’t been able to out qualify his teammate once this season and currently has 8 points to Alonso’s 44 but McLaren were quick to defend the Belgian.
“It’s clear we haven’t provided Stoffel with the tools to show his true talent, but throughout our relationship he’s proved to be a fantastic team player. His work ethic is impressive, he has a great reputation within the team and we’ve really enjoyed working with him.”
Alonso completes IndyCar test:
Less than a month after the two-time world champion announced he would step away from Formula One in 2019, Alonso took part in a test with the Andretti IndyCar Team. This comes as Alonso looks to soon make the switch to IndyCar full-time from 2019. He has set his sights on winning the Indy 500 and IndyCar championship, which if he wins along with the 2018/2019 WEC super season he will be the first man in history to do so.
Alonso seemed to enjoy his first road course experience in an IndyCar.
“I love to test new cars and to test the Indycar on a road course is something special.”
And when asked if whether he enjoyed the road course more than driving on an oval circuit Alonso said:
“Probably my instinct will tell me road course, because it’s what I’ve been used to doing all my life, but the Indy 500 was an amazing experience, so 50/50,”
Mercedes’ ties also hurt Ocon’s chances (again):
After Renault confirmed last week that Esteban Ocon’s Mercedes backing was a factor in them not signing the Frenchman; McLaren confirmed that they also had an issue with the German manufacturer’s backing of Ocon.
“Esteban is someone that we rate extremely highly, and I think any time when a driver, you’re looking to something long-term, has ties to another manufacturer, that’s a tick in the wrong box.”
Ocon’s options are soon running out with seats only realistically available at Toro Rosso and Williams, we may have to see Ocon take a step back for next season.
McLaren re-sign Fry:
As McLaren looks to restructure it’s technical department and James Key unlikely to join the team until at least next year, McLaren have re-signed their old technical director Pat Fry. Pat Fry was dropped at the end of 2013 after a dismal season where the team failed to score a single podium for the first time in decades, he made the switch to Ferrari but again had to make way a couple years later as Ferrari made changes to their technical team.
He will focus on the development on the design of the 2019 car as McLaren look to start climbing their way back up grid.
Turvey in frame for Nissan Formula E drive:
It is understood that Oliver Turvey is one of many drivers in the frame to drive for Nissan e.dams next season. Earlier this year the team confirmed Nico Prost will not be competing his 5th season with the team and Sebastian Buemi’s future also looks in doubt with complications with his Toyota WEC contract forbidding him from driving for another Japanese manufacturer.
Oliver took his first podium in Mexico last season and is regarded as one of Formula E’s most underrated drivers. He has plenty of speed and experience so he would be a great fit for the team but Jean-Paul Driot confirmed that no decision has yet been made.
“We will take the decision during the course of September and so we will make an announcement by the end of September”
Latifi’s previous Formula 2 experience hurting campaign:
Nicholas Latifi took his first victory of the season in Spa but has struggled all season compared to his teammate Alex Albon who sits 3rd in the F2 title. He has struggled to get up to speed with the new Formula 2 car but Nicholas portions some of the blame on his previous experience with the old F2 car.
“So many of the races this year I’ve screwed myself, we’ve gone completely the wrong way [in terms of setup]”
And that being experienced in Formula 2 has no real advantages this season.
“I would’ve almost preferred to be a rookie in F2 this year and when I say that, I think the only benefit I would have taken from having the experience in the previous years was in general how the Pirelli tyres react”
The other “elder- statesman” in Formula 2 is Artem Markelov who currently sits 4th in the title has struggled far less than the Canadian, but with rookies being the two favourites for the title could Latifi be right?
And that’s it for this week. We will bring you more news in our round-up next week.
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