Wellity wellity. No Simpsons quote or metal lyric for the title today. There may not be any training sessions for me to pull off this laptop, but let's ramble on about a few issues anyway
So still no news regarding whose derriere shall be filling the 2nd Mercedes for 2017, although it seems we can whittle down the shortlist further still from where we were this time last week; it would be a major surprise if the seat was occupied by someone other than Valtteri Bottas or Pascal Wehrlein, both of whom were discussed on here last time
Were Mercedes faced with a straight choice based purely on who'd be more likely to get the better results on-track in 2017, one would tend to lean towards the laconic Finn Bottas (are there any non-laconic Finns out there? I'm struggling to think of one) thanks to his greater experience (the true money-no-object, free-of-contractual-obligations choice would actually be Max Verstappen, however that's not a realistic proposition right now. Someone at Mercedes might make the call, though, just to tick a box). Relative to Wehrlein, though, his contractual situation is far more complicated than first seems. While Mercedes junior Wehrlein obviously currently has no deal in place for 2017, Bottas is not only tied into his own contract for 2017, but he's also supposedly a key part of a number of other Williams deals, including their title sponsor. With 18 year old Lance Stroll (more on him later) in 1 car, Williams need an experienced driver in their lead car for numerous reasons on and off the circuit (they simply cannot rely on Stroll to be a regular, consistent points scorer from Melbourne even with his considerable not-so-secret testing miles from this year, and Martini can't use someone who's not old enough to drink their products in many countries to promote them).
On Stroll, there's no escaping the fact that his place in Team Willy is at least partially due to the not entirely unconnected truck full of cash (pictured below) that has been sent their way courtesy of Mr Lawrence Stroll. It would also greatly aid his development were he to be paired with an experienced driver whose setup he could nick as and when required- it would also help with expectation management, as nobody expects Stroll to consistently beat Bottas, whereas if he were routinely trounced by a fellow rookie, it might hurt the poor lad's feelings. It's quite fitting, though, that he's picked 18 as his driver number- not only is it his age, it'll also make for a smooth transition for a couple of years down the line when he's renting a drive from Dale Coyne
Elsewhere on the grid, the 3 remaining seats (2x Manor, 1 Sauber/Team Ericsson) almost certainly won't all be filled until the 2nd Mercedes seat is filled (Wehrlein will almost certainly end up in 1 of the 4). All 3 seats will primarily be determined by the size of the bag of wonga the driver can bring. Esteban Gutierrez may have burned his bridges at Sauber after his previous stint (and he's certainly done so with Haas this year) but assuming he's still in Carlos Slim's good books, he could land himself one of the Manor seats. The prospects for Felipe Nasr (not to be confused with Felipe Massa- that's literally the first line of his Wikipedia entry), however, look less promising, as he's lost his Banco do Brasil backing, and in 2 years with Sauber didn't outperform Marcus Ericsson by a sufficient manner to warrant a move further up the grid. Perhaps he's destined to be this decade's version of Pedro Diniz - well-backed, semi-competent lower end of midfield runner who disappeared from view as soon as the sponsors' cheques dried up
Not yet sure what to make of Arsenal centre back Gabriel. Give me a little more time
There's been no shortage of howling (at the moon?) recently about possible Russian influence in the recent presidential election. If (and given the lack of any actual evidence it's a sizeable if) true, then manipulating an event as relatively trivial as the World Cup (being played on their own patch no less) is surely within their capabilities. Therefore, even accounting for the fact that Leicester City have broken ante-post gambling, the 40/1 currently available on them to win their own tournament is worth a sniff
JUST BECAUSE YOU THINK YOU'RE A ROBIT, DOESN'T MAKE YOU A ROBIT