Jennie Gow

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Current page

181

Current page

182

What is it about Formula 1 driver announcements coming during the summer break? Just as I had turned off my social media notifications and packed the suitcase to head off on holiday, Red Bull announced that Alexander Albon would be replacing Pierre Gasly.

So, there I am – along with a lot of other journalists, I suspect, who use the mid-season break to have their holiday – scrabbling around with a suitcase and sun tan lotion in one hand and a mobile phone in the other trying to get a quote from someone who wasn’t already ‘out of office’.

This isn’t the first time Red Bull has done it, either. This time last year, just as the summer shutdown was starting, my phone lit up with the news that Daniel Ricciardo was leaving for Renault. As with Albon, the announcement caught everyone in the paddock by surprise. Just one month before we had all been reporting that team principal Christian Horner was close to signing the Australian for another few years…

Some transfer moves in Formula 1 take forever to come about and are entirely predictable – see Lance Stroll’s move to Racing Point after his father bought the team, or Alonso to McLaren after he was replaced at Ferrari by Vettel. Robert Kubica’s return took a while, even though it was on the cards for months. But I love the way it works in F1 because the whispers and growing speculation are all part of the game.

Think back to the sensational news that Lewis Hamilton was set to join Mercedes. The first rumblings began on September 5th 2012, when Eddie Jordan announced Hamilton was set to leave McLaren. “Typical Eddie,” we all thought, because why on earth would Hamilton leave the team that had signed him as a boy to go to a relatively unsuccessful rival? But of course Eddie had heard it from Bernie and Bernie had heard it from Niki, so you suddenly realise that the musings of Eddie were actually spot on. Alas it’s hard to get scoops like that any more now Bernie is no longer in the game.

“A simple slip of the tongue is seen as clear and obvious intent to get rid of a driver”

Some of the biggest rumours of driver moves in recent years have surrounded Fernando Alonso. Could he still come back to F1 even now? When he was in F1 he was always being linked with ‘other teams’ and ironically made moves at the wrong time and to the wrong place numerous times.

One move I will always remember was the news that Vettel was leaving Red Bull for Ferrari. It came at Suzuka and the whispers it might happen were suddenly confirmed on the Saturday morning. I recall running down to the back of the Red Bull garage where a visibly upset Christian Horner spoke to us about Vettel’s decision. You could see it was a hugely personal subject for him to talk about. But us hacks couldn’t be too sympathetic, our minds were already racing, calculating the implications. The key one being that Vettel’s news meant Alonso was leaving Ferrari, and we all knew he was headed for McLaren, but no one would announce it.

The paddock is a little like the back gardens of old terraced houses. All the mechanics and engineers, hospitality and marketing members, shooting the breeze in between sessions and some of those little whispers give you what could be an exclusive. A simple slip of the tongue as a team principal, or an answer to a question that leaves even the slightest margin for misunderstanding is seen as clear and obvious intent to get rid of a driver. Of course, that’s not the case most of the time, but when you have the world’s media analysing body language, talking to contacts within the team, and analysing every word everyone says, jumping to conclusions with only half the information can be easily done.

Every year there is at least one seat in contention in the top three teams – that’s just the nature of the sport – so every year around this time journalists whip themselves up into a fervour and start hypothesising.

Of course most rumours turn out to be just that. Some of my favourites in recent times have been Ricciardo going to Ferrari, Hülkenberg to Ferrari, Räikkönen to stay at Ferrari, Vettel to leave Ferrari and head back to Red Bull. Max Verstappen has constantly been linked with moves to other teams, even to the point that Mercedes was about to sign him when Red Bull crept in and promised him an F1 drive, and that sealed the deal.

Audi was supposedly coming into F1 to supply Red Bull with engines, then there was Porsche and Aston Martin. A grand prix was definitely going to happen in London, and New York… It can be advantageous to start a rumour in the paddock if you’re a money man, and even a well-timed tip off by a driver or team boss can mean the deck of cards suddenly stacking up on your side.

But mostly the F1 rumour mill exists because of the febrile atmosphere of the paddock. Gossip, mischief and desire for a good tale can combine to create an entirely plausible situation that is nonetheless entirely untrue. Unless it turns out to be true, of course. In which case, can I make a plea for it not to happen just as the rest of us are about to go on holiday.


Jennie Gow has formed a staple of the BBC’s Formula 1 broadcasting team since 2011, working across both TV and radio
Follow Jennie on Twitter @JennieGow

You may also like

Related products