A silly season of civility…

SOMETIMES it’s just nice when a plan comes together.

Working in PR often means fighting the prevailing winds to try and orchestrate your media plan in a way that everyone gets want they want.

Most of the time getting it half right in the end is a major victory while often it’s a complete shambles that you just push through anyway.

And yet, even though the entire world knew exactly what was going to happen there was something lovely about the way the Formula One driver market dominoes fell across the last week or so.

It was like it was a perfectly choreographed dance, one item nicely moving so another could fall in its place.

First Kimi Raikkonen announced his retirement from Alfa Romeo. Did he jump, or was he pushed? We’ll never know, but at least Kimi got to do it on his own terms as only Kimi can.

Then, the team announced that Valtteri Bottas would join the team from 2022, on a multi-year deal.

Coupled with sentiment-filled statements from Mercedes-AMG, this was a respectful and nice way to confirm the Finnish driver’s next move. It was good for Bottas, it was good for Alfa and it made Mercedes look polished and respectful even though it’s been clear for a long time that he was never going to be back.

And then, lo and behold and to no one’s surprise, George Russell was announced to be joining the team just a day or so later.

Once again, this was well managed, given its own air and the welcoming messages from Toto, Lewis and the team were matched by the messages of support from Williams who clearly love what George has done for them over the three seasons he’s been there. As they should.

Of course, the team rolled out the old images of a baby-faced George looking adoringly at a McLaren-driving Lewis in the paddock, a little kid looking for an autograph now a teammate in the best team in the sport.

How long that lasts should Russell knock the seven-time champion off next year remains to be seen.

Through all of that there needed to be a Williams seat filled – and with the perfect timing and coordination there were photos of Alex Albon signing documents with team boss Jost Capito and then posing in front of the blue and white car carrying the ‘W’ on the nose.

To make that work Red Bull needed to give permission for their supported driver to land in a team sporting Mercedes-Benz powerplants, and the latter surely had to do the same. But it all fell nicely into place, Albon sporting an Alpha Tauri T-Shirt in the photo shoot a reminder that once a Red Bull pilot, always a Red Bull pilot.

Unless you’re Daniil Kyvat, anyway.

It was all very nicely done. Every team got their moment in the news. Every driver was treated respectfully. Every brand got their love and the whole sport just looked very decent indeed, which I’m sure some existing in the so-called F1 ‘Piranha Club’ found extremely amusing and the whole F1 silly season was pretty much sorted in a single week.

Compare that to the sideshow alley affair that has been the last few days in Supercars’ land, however…

F1’s moves have been a civil-season compared to the silly-season that has broken out in the Supercars paddock with driver moves aplenty being speculated, predicted and ‘exclusively broken’ by the motorsport media without any official confirmation coming.

Andre Heimgartner’s departure from Kelly Grove Racing was a surprise to many, especially after the combination won at The Bend earlier this season. What’s more, an interview with Neil Crompton on the Supercars Eseries coverage on Wednesday night basically confirmed that the young Kiwi was unhappy with the situation at the team and wanted out.

Thankfully for Andre, one of the fastest guys in the paddock had plenty of suitors with, if you believe the rumor-mill, Brad Jones Racing landing as the favorite spot.

That subsequently set off a chain of events that apparently has Bryce Fullwood off to Tickford, Percat off to Walkinshaw’s (despite announcing a new long-term deal with BJR earlier this year, so make of that what you will) and a host of other changes at teams yet to lock in their packages for next year.

And that’s not to mention the talk that what will become Grove Racing is looking to plug talented but inexperienced young Kiwi Matthew Payne, a star in this year’s Carrera Cup Championship, into the seat vacated by his fellow New Zealander.

It’s all going on and the only thing we know for sure is that Heimgartner won’t be in the Grove seat next year – but that’s about it.

It’s not the week you’d pick to be a news journo on the Supercars beat, but then again it’s a nice distraction from the mess that is the back half of the season thanks to the Covid-related lockdowns. We’re living in a strange world at the moment and you expect there to be people boxing on in the Supercars paddock.. but F1 showing the world how to be nice to one another? That’s a new one!

Working full time in the motorsport industry since 2004, Richard has established himself within the group of Australia’s core motorsport broadcasters, covering the support card at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix for Channel 10, the Bathurst 12 Hour for Channel 7 and RadioLeMans plus Porsche Carrera Cup & Touring Car Masters for FOX Sports’ Supercars coverage. Works a PR bloke for several teams and categories, is an amateur motorsport photographer and owns five cars, most of them Holdens, of varying vintage and state of disrepair.


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