Tornado Motorsport have sensationally shown Argentine driver Tomas Gonzalez the door with four races left in the 2017 FF1M Season.
Gonzalez, who lies fourth in the Drivers Championship just five points behind team mate Sergio Perez and still in mathematical reach of the world championship, has struggled for form from mid-season onwards and has been involved in numerous collisions with other drivers including Fernando Alonso, Antonio Felix da Costa and most recently Kimi Raikkonen in Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix. The Argentine has scored just nine points in the past five races, although it must be said that this downturn in form has come at a time where Gonzalez has been forced to use harder tyres, after the team front-loaded it’s use of Softer Compounds earlier in the season.
Team test driver Vaino Kimminen will replace Gonzalez having sealed the FF2M championship at Portimao with a sensational run from eighth on the grid to first in the weekend’s Sprint Race, taking the first double win in FF2M category since Fabio Leimer in the 2013/14 FF2M Asia Season. Kimminen had already been set to replace Gonzalez from the 2017 season.
In a statement Tornado Team Principal Tobias Wolff said “As much as Tomas has done for the team, he’s evidently ran out of steam as the season’s developed. The gap to Lewis is” 27 points “and the run of form isn’t good either of course.”
“I would like to thank the Argentine for his services.” Wolff continued. “He’s done a good job to get our team in this position. However, the tide has dramatically turned against us since Silverstone. I cannot ignore the fact also Vaino has been faster in every test/ practice session they’ve been together in. When you’re losing a game of football and you have a star player on your bench, you have to bring them on. I know technically my team still leads, however, it won’t last on the current trajectory of performance. It’s not a decision I have taken lightly. Although it has been at the back of my mind all season. I gave Tomas as long as I could afford to prove he can win this title. Unfortunately though, the time has passed. I wish him all the best with Exolite from next season.”
Although not included in Wolff’s initial statement, team insiders who wished not to be named have claimed that there have been frantic meetings behind the scenes following the last race in Portugal. Rumours have swelled in the paddock that a deal might have been done with Exolite to swap Gonzalez with Romain Grosjean, who is due to join the team next season. It is clear that there is a sense of crisis at the team following a downturn in results and the team’s desperation to retain their Constructors Championship crown has led to some hurried and panicked decision making. Whether it will pay off we will find out in due course.