Monday, January 2, 2017

From One Backmarker to Another

Photo: Motorsport.com
There are now only three (but really only two) available spots on the grid for 2017.

Sauber, who finished tenth in the Constructors' standings in 2016, just announced plans to sign Pascal Wehrlein to pair with Marcus Ericsson for 2017. Wehrlein moves to Sauber from Manor Racing, who finished eleventh in the Constructors' thanks to Wehrlein's solitary point scored in Austria (Felipe Nasr scored two points for Sauber in Brazil). Wehrlein was also in the running for Nico Rosberg's Mercedes seat and was actually my pick to get it.

This also should all but confirm Valtteri Bottas' move to Mercedes, which in turn would confirm Felipe Massa's return to Williams. Motorsport.com notes all three announcements may coincide with each other once terms are completed and the deals are official.

With this announcement, while Mercedes are still yet to confirm Bottas, it's looking more and more like he's the guy. So just like last year, Manor are the only team yet to confirm their driver lineup for the upcoming season. In fact, neither of those seats are filled. I'm going to refrain from giving any predictions this time. Manor probably need at least one pay driver of some sort, but given the team's history, the driver lineup probably won't be announced until February.

And no, sorry my fellow Americans. Alexander Rossi won't be one of them. He's staying in IndyCar with Andretti. That's a good move; why on earth would drive for a backmarker and fight for P14 just to put an American on the grid when you could drive for a top IndyCar team and defend your Indianapolis 500 crown?

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