Although the titles are all won and done, the stage is set for an electrifying weekend at Interlagos, addressing a wild round of post-Mexican GP rumours.
Renowned Spanish journalist Albert Fabrega triggered it off by dropping a cryptic bombshell on social media, leaving fans and insiders intrigued. “I don’t want to believe the rumour they have told me now in the paddock. No,” he teased. In minutes, dots were being connected, wondering if the empty revelation had something to do with Spanish F1 superstar Fernando Alonso.
The rumour mill had little time to cool, as Fabrega added more fuel to the fire with a fresh post the following day – his words still cloaked in mystery. “I’m just going to say one thing about the rumour that I told you yesterday,” he said. “From the tone of the text it is understood that I would not like it to happen. From here, you can speculate as much as you want. And I hope it remains a rumour and not news.”
And just like that, the rumour took on a life of its own, intertwining with other developments – like the sizeable $3 million stake in Aston Martin changing hands on the London Stock Exchange. Could Lawrence Stroll be gearing up to sell not just the carmaker, but also the rapidly-growing but currently-struggling Silverstone based F1 team? “It’s just a wild rumour at this point,” chimed in Polish journalist Daniel Bialy.
But all eyes are now on Alonso, the 42-year-old legend, amid renewed whispers of a sensational seat swap in 2024 with Red Bull’s underperforming Sergio Perez. This, despite Dr Helmut Marko’s vehement and repeated statements to the contrary. “I don’t know how many times I have to say it,” the Red Bull consultant told Sky Germany. “He (Perez) has his contract for 2024 and that will happen.”
Yet, the plot thickened as Canal Plus, the French F1 broadcaster, reported that 33-year-old Mexican Perez might indeed not be donning the Red Bull colours alongside Max Verstappen next year. The twist, of course, is that Daniel Ricciardo appears much more likely than Alonso to be putting Perez’s racing shoes on in 2024, especially as in his second race since returning from a broken-hand, the resurgent Daniel Ricciardo – who outshone Perez in Mexico in the junior Alpha Tauri car – stole the show. “The many upgrades at Alpha Tauri had an effect,” Marko admitted, welcoming the return of “the old Daniel” after his McLaren sacking and return to the Red Bull family.
Marko, though, had notably defended Perez’s ambitious but overly-audacious turn 1 crash into Charles Leclerc on Sunday. But former F1 driver Timo Glock isn’t convinced. “This is the worst case scenario for Perez,” he declared in a mix of sympathy and realism. “It was a glimmer of hope that he could build up his self-confidence again in Mexico, but now the opposite has happened. (Lewis) Hamilton has picked up a lot of points because of it.”