Another race, another Lewis Hamilton win and a new three-time Drivers' World Champion. The 30-year-old Brit is now in an elite group of drivers alongside his hero Ayrton Senna and surely it will take a while for those words to sink in.
While all of the attention surrounded Hamilton throughout the weekend, it's easy to miss all of the other talking points from up and down the grid and in the paddock. So, staying away from discussing Hamilton’s fantastic success and instead debating the other three key talking points.
Red Bull’s engine woes continue
Another race has passed and Red Bull seem no closer to securing themselves an engine for the 2016 season, but in an interesting turn of events, it seems that Honda could be Red Bull’s best chance at getting a competitive engine. So long as both parties can get around Ron Dennis, after it transpired Honda were willing to negotiate a deal with the four-time World Champions, who used his veto vote to stop any such agreement between Red Bull and Honda.
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Game over for a Red Bull and Honda partnership you would think, but in an agreement Honda made with the FIA, they would supply one team for the first year, two for the second and three for the third year. So unless Dennis can come up with a legitimate argument to stop Red Bull being supplied the same engine as McLaren, then expect the FIA to overrule any issue the 68-year-old has.
It may shock some F1 fans that Red Bull would be willing to take a Honda engine after their continuous struggles for performance this season, with them finishing behind the Renault-powered Red Bull on every occasion. This has shown the Honda power unit has been lacklustre and could continue to be worse than the Renault power unit in 2016, despite various claims the Honda unit is currently quicker than what Renault offer.
However, if Formula One has taught us one thing, it is that you never know how good an engine will be the following year. We have seen it with teams time and again throughout history, suffering for one year and bouncing back the next, Jenson Button himself found this when Brawn purchased Honda F1.
This story certainly has a long way to run still, but if Red Bull do not have a signed agreement with an engine supplier by the time we leave Mexico, then they may struggle to have a complete package for the pre-season tests and could end up missing the first race in Australia.
Lotus announce second driver for 2016
Lotus announced on Friday morning in Austin that Jolyon Palmer would partner Pastor Maldonado for the 2016 season whether that’s at Lotus outright or Lotus “Renault” is a matter not concerning Palmer, who told Sky Sports: “I’m hopeful the car’s going to be strong and I can show what I can do. Now I’m in Formula 1, I want to be fighting at the sharp end.”
Despite Renault’s power issues, Palmer seems content with the opportunity granted to him.
Friday started off poorly for the reserve driver, who was meant to be out on the track, but due to a lightening storm and the threat of increased rain throughout the day it looked like it would be another frustrating weekend for the Briton, but emotions of disappointment were soon replaced by excitement.
Palmer went on to say: “Since the summer break, it’s been very tough for the whole team. But I knew the Renault talks were ongoing.
“I don’t really know inside the minds of the Renault bosses or even the shareholders here; whether there’s something, even if Renault doesn’t happen.
“I’ve just had to have faith that something was going to happen. The team’s too good not to be doing anything next year.”
After impressing in his GP2 Championship-winning season in 2014, Palmer has not sat back, he has been proactive and decided to take the reserve seat at Lotus, something not all drivers are comfortable with due to the lack of running granted to them. However, he continued to work hard and keep himself in the minds of the Lotus bosses, impressing at every opportunity so when Romain Grosjean decided to move on, Palmer was there, ready and waiting.
We should look forward to seeing Palmer on the grid next season, showing everyone what he can do, whether that is a Mercedes-powered Lotus or Renault-powered Lotus, he will eke all of the performance from the motor and package he has to work with.
Button set for McLaren stay
Cast your minds back a few weeks and it seemed to all that Button was heading for the exit door at the end of this season, that was soon confirmed to be incorrect and it now seems the Brit is planning on being on the grid for the 2017 season and even pushing for a second World Championship.
With this sudden change of heart from Button and certainly his change of hopes for the team, you wonder what he has seen that we have not from the Honda power unit. Seemingly all year it has appeared to the naked eye that McLaren have made very little progress in terms of performance and reliability, but now a driver with nothing to prove in F1 fancies his chances in 2017.
Of course, the rules do change in 2017 so perhaps he knows that once the new regulations come in Honda will be the best prepared to make a title challenge. But with only a year left on his contract, Button will have to impress in 2016 by at least outscoring his teammate to secure himself an extra year.
With so many young and talented drivers waiting in the wings at a fraction of the cost, we are going to have to see some of the 2009 champion’s best driving, otherwise he may not have much of a say on his McLaren future.
So we leave a wet and windy Austin with a new deserved three-time World Champion and 19 other drivers who wish to be in his position. With every growing victory for Hamilton you sense the target gets bigger on his back, as fellow drivers aim to beat him and break their own records.
Despite both Championship winners being decided, there is still three races to go for the remaining teams and drivers to get as many points as possible to take themselves up the leaderboard; something particularly important for the mid-field teams, with every place financially rewarding.
Will Red Bull find a new engine supplier ahead of the 2016 season, or will they leave the sport? Give your opinion in the comment box below!
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