- A Formula 1 draft? What kind of craziness is this?
- Relax, it’s not going to happen
- If it did, though, it would be full of backbiting and pettiness, which is lots of fun
Formula 1 chairman Chase Carey recently told Eurosport that F1 needs to spice up the offseason, with something similar to the NFL Draft. He did not say that Formula 1 needs to have a draft, as you might have read elsewhere, just that F1 needs an offseason event as hotly anticipated as the NFL Draft. Nevertheless, here is a Formula 1 mock draft.
The rules are simple, the last place team in Constructors Championship points picks first, and they can pick anyone they like. Current drivers, technical staff, anyone. We’ve only done one round, and we haven’t included trades. If you clicked on this article because you’re looking for a three-round Formula 1 mock draft with trades, please seek help immediately.
1. Williams: Lewis Hamilton (Driver, Mercedes)
Williams is in the middle of a historic slump, which has threatened their financial solubility and the continued existence of the team. Paddy Lowe insists that his two young and inexperienced drivers, Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin, aren’t the problem. That is strictly true, because their pace is more or less fine and they bring huge financial support with them, but neither has the acumen to win races or the personal brand to make Williams relevant. That’s where Lewis Hamilton comes in.
“Lewis Hamilton” is one of the most important brand names in the sport, and making this move with the first pick will more or less guarantee Williams a huge chunk of sponsorship money and TV time, as the biggest name in the sport suits up in a British-built car. He’s also a pretty handy driver.
Furthermore, Williams famously lost Valtteri Bottas to Mercedes in the wake of Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement, and what better way to get revenge than to poach Lewis Hamilton?
2. Sauber Ferrari: James Allison (Technical Director, Mercedes)
In what might be a surprise pick at the #2 spot, Sauber Ferrari select Mercedes technical director James Allison.
There’s a number of reasons here. Firstly, Sauber lost their technical director Jorg Zander to what appears to be a pretty classic ship-jumping. The team is sorted for drivers, Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson both have tons of potential, and also sorted for sponsors, having just paired up with Alfa Romeo. Their most pressing need is at the technical director position, and poaching James Allison from Mercedes will be an upgrade from whoever else Sauber could hire. They could also pick Mattia Binotto, but taking your powertrain supplier’s CTO is a great way to sour your relationship.
3. Haas Ferrari: Daniel Ricciardo (Driver, Red Bull)
It’s hard to overstate Haas’s achievement in breaking into Formula 1 as successfully as they have. By managing a mutually beneficial technical relationship with Ferrari, they’ve avoided starting from scratch and attempting to make up decades of ground on their opponents. What they need now is a great driver, and preferably one that will appeal to their American audience.
With no American drivers currently competing in F1, the next best thing is a brash young Australian, who giddily offends F1’s age-old snootiness by drinking champagne from his shoes and feuding with the governing body. If he could wear a stars-and-stripes racing suit, he would.
Is Daniel Ricciardo the best driver available? Probably not, but taking Sebastian Vettel from Ferrari would not be good for the technical partnership Haas enjoys with Maranello.
4. Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda: Andy Cowell (Powertrain Director, Mercedes)
Toro Rosso benefits from the best driver development program in motorsport, but also is now tied to Honda as its powertrain supplier. Considering how that relationship worked out for McLaren, it’s high time for Toro Rosso to bring on some powertrain expertise to, uhh, coordinate with Honda.
Who better than Andy Cowell, the guy who built the Mercedes turbo unit that won a frankly distasteful number of races, championships, and trophies? Also, what better way to cripple their parent companies rival?
5. Force India Mercedes: Sebastian Vettel (Driver, Ferrari)
There’s a couple things going on here. Firstly, Ferrari is likely to scoop up Force India’s Sergio Perez at the end of the season, with Kimi Raikkonen maybe/probably retiring. Taking Vettel is great pre-venge, and it gets Force India a spectacular driver.
There’s also the matter of Force India’s relationship with Mercedes. By taking Vettel, Force India denies Mercedes their #1 competitor, and also puts Vettel in an inferior car for once.
6. Renault: Fernando Alonso (Driver, McLaren Renault)
Alonso is ready for a change, driving everything from an Indy Car to endurance racers. Anything other than the terribly disappointing and perennially recovering McLaren. Who better to pick him than Renault, with whom Alonso won both of his world championships?
Renault could also use some help with the powertrain development, just ask Red Bull, but with Andy Cowell off the board what’s the point? Also, they’re probably going to lose Carlos Sainz Jr to Red Bull at the end of the year, as his contract allows Red Bull to recall him. Why not go get a race-winning driver with a huge personal brand and history with Renault?
7. McLaren Renault: Max Verstappen (Driver, Red Bull)
Adding to McLaren Renault’s woes, they’ve just lost their #1 driver to their disappointing powertrain supplier. Here to fill that gap is Red Bull’s own Max Verstappen, one of the few drivers left on the board who can win races in a less-than-ideal car.
Verstappen is still young, still hyper-competitive, and will make an interesting teammate for the somewhat boring Stoffel Vandoorne. Great pick.
8. Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer: Sergio Perez (Driver, Force India)
If there’s anything Red Bull likes, it’s a young driver with oodles of talent, just before he jumps to Ferrari or Mercedes. Sergio Perez is that driver on the rise, with impressive performances in the pink car and the whole paddock whispering about him wearing a red jumpsuit soon.
This brings Red Bull’s driver lineup to just two: Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz, who is currently on loan to Renault. Hopefully it doesn’t get worse from here!
9. Mercedes: Adrian Newey (Technical Director, Red Bull)
Mercedes has lost everything, and must now either find a driver worthy of replacing Lewis Hamilton (good luck) or poach the best technical personnel on the grid and hope to get their advantage back that way. Adrian Newey fits that description, is a lot younger than you think (only 59!) and has built some of the most simple and innovative race-winning cars in the sport. If nothing else, he’ll be able to get the W09 to stop being such a “diva.”
10. Ferrari: Carlos Sainz (Driver, Renault/Red Bull)
Oh how the mighty have fallen. The good news is that Ferrari retain most of their technical staff, as most Formula 1 teams are primarily English-speaking (and England-based) and Ferrari retains just enough of its Italian flair to have teams higher in the draft order looking elsewhere.
Taking Carlos Sainz solves a lot of problems for Maranello. Firstly, it sets back Red Bull, who are now without Ricciardo, Verstappen, and the driver they stashed in a Renault and hoped nobody would notice. It gives Ferrari a promising driver to fill the seat while they beg Kimi Raikkonen not to retire and look for someone else to poach from a lower seat.