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A man with a mullet and a moustache on the cover of GP Racing? You may be wondering, dear reader, if the editorial team has taken leave of its collective senses. Perhaps it has. But as Polonius said, albeit slightly less equivocally – though this may be madness, yet there is method in it.

For several Formula 1 seasons it became a trope in the sporting media to seize upon some aspect of Valtteri Bottas’s appearance – be it a beard or merely some ‘designer stubble’ – as evidence of a winter transformation. This, reported the paddock sages, was a new Bottas, one who was now ready to get his elbows out at Mercedes and compete hard with his team-mate rather than merely being a dutiful number two. Lewis Hamilton himself referred to “Bottas 2.0” giving him a harder time in 2019.

Truth is, Valtteri never particularly bought into that myth or tried to perpetuate it. And, as you’ll read in our exclusive and somewhat unusual interview on page 30, now he’s got the freedom to do and speak as he pleases, he’s enjoying life – and his driving – as never before. This is the Valtteri who has always been waiting to get out, and he’s all the more fun for it. He’s even found a ‘cheeky’ way to raise money for charity…

The stately pace of the printed page being what it is, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will have occurred while this edition of GP Racing is in the post to subscribers and on its way to the news stand. But already the fur is beginning to fly with the season barely under way. Famously, when asked about the greatest challenges faced by a statesman, Harold Macmillan is said to have replied, “Events, dear boy, events.”

As Roberto Chinchero writes in his analysis of the challenges facing Ferrari’s new team principal (p42), every tenant of that position comes into it knowing their occupancy of it is finite. Few other team leaders in F1 are so prey to the dreaded events, for in Ferrari’s form rests the hopes of a sporting nation (not to mention a good many shareholders). Already there is word of a rift between Frédéric Vasseur and CEO Benedetto Vigna over questions of authority.

The ravens are already leaving the tower, it seems, as Ferrari is gripped by unexpected on-track events. Engineer David Sanchez has cleared his desk, as have long-time staffers Gino Rosato and Jonathan Giacobazzi. Rosato’s principal task of ferrying Jean Todt’s slippers up to the first-class cabin is long in the rear-view mirror but the departure of Giacobazzi, the partner-wrangler whose parents sponsored Gilles Villeneuve, is indicative of a wider cultural malaise between time-served individuals on the factory floor and the upper echelons of the c-suite.

Inside the issue

This month's features include

Valtteri Bottas
The Alfa Romeo driver is more motivated than ever, having rediscovered the fun of racing

In conversation with…
Oscar Piastri, ahead of the Aussie’s first F1 race at home

Frédéric Vasseur
After switching from Alfa to Ferrari’s top job, Vasseur has already started making changes

A new start?
Ferrari’s stellar driver line-up to hit reset to go to the next level

In conversation with…
Alpine technical director Matt Harman on the new A523

James Vowles
What does the new Williams team principal have on his to-do list?

Ford’s return
The history of the blue oval’s previous efforts in Formula 1

Now That Was A Car
The Williams FW15C, the high point in 1990’s F1 technology

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