Who Goes Where In 2010?
With the confirmation that Fernando Alonso will go to Ferrari next season to partner Felipe Massa, the driver market for 2010is now set to be decided as the 2009 season draws to a close. But where do we believe the major drivers will be next year and with all these new teams set to enter F1 who will be driving for them.
So lets start off with what we already know, Mark Webber & Sebastian Vettel are already set to stay on at Red Bull, Ferrari obviously have Alonso & Massa (dependent on his fitness). McLaren will clearly retain the services of Lewis Hamilton, but who will his team mate be? Kovalainen has all but lost his seat at the team after a dismal season. I admit I really like the young Finn – he impressed me in his first season at Renault, but he just doesn’t deserve to be in a McLaren seat at the moment. I think maybe now that Flavio has been kicked out of Renault, Kovalainen maybe more relaxed to get back to his old team.
Personally I would love to see Kimi Raikkonen back at McLaren. His monotone voice and lack of excitement fits well with McLaren’s dullsed corporate image. It’s where he just seemed to have a natural predator’s instinct to never give up and be a dogged racer, something I think he lost at Ferrari. In any case the Hamilton camp would not be happy with the move, but I think it would at least give Lewis a challenging team mate again. I see that or Kimi departing F1, which would be a loss.
There is no way he would go to a team like Toyota who have also expressed an interest in the Finn; the team has never really done anything in the whole 8 years that they have been in F1. They clearly have fallen out of love with Jarno Trulli and vice versa, but I do hope Toyota holds onto Timo Glock as he seems a very solid driver and can help bring stability and consistency to the team going into next year.
For Renault I have my biggest doubt, like I said before I think Kovalainen would slot back in their well, but with the news that Robert Kubica has signed to become Renault’s lead driver next year I have to question the decision. Yes it was popular believe that the Polish driver was going to go to Renault after the demise of BMW in F1, but I just don’t see why he would want to go their. The teams’ reputation is pretty much in taters; their sponsor’s are leaving left right and centre, the cars not that good and is either to be found at the tail end of the points or nowhere near them. Thus Kubica is claiming race wins and a battle for the title is on for next year! This seems doubtful to me as the teams done nothing since its titles back in 2005 & 2006.
As for Brawn, Jenson Button is looking good to remain there as long as the team don’t mess him around to much regarding salary, but it’s his current team mate Rubens Barrichello that is looking the more uncertain as rumours floating about say Nico Rosberg could be lined up to replace the Brazilian. Personally I think Brawn will retain Button & Barrichello as they work well with the team and are very experienced drivers. Rosberg has also been linked to McLaren, but which ever happens he defiantly deserves more than a Williams drive as the team at the moment is not able to challenge at the front for victories. As for the second seat at Williams I see Nico Hülkenberg replacing Kazuki Naki(jacky)jima who has done nothing to deserve a race seat all season, his best result ever being 6th at the Australian GP 2007.
Force India may do well to retain Adrian Sutil & Tonio Liuzzi who I feel have both a lot of potential going into 2010, if the team can continue to improve the car. With Toro Rosso I think they desperately need an experienced driver to partner one of these young hot shots. They are simply suffering from not having someone who is capable of giving a direction, focus or drive to the team. I admit Bourdais was not an amazing racer, but at least he could give the team information on which to develop the car over a weekend. Instead at the moment all they have is two kids that look at times well out of their depth.
As for the new teams looking to come into F1 – Lotus / Campos / Manor / USF1 (although I think that last one is no more than hot air), perhaps a good choice would be people like Jarno Trulli or Nick Heidfeld. Drivers, who can bring experience to the team, develop and lead the team forward in its maiden season. This perhaps with a mix of drivers who are currently filling either unused test roles or reserve / third driver slots, people like Christian Klien, Pedro De la Rosa & Anthony Davidson, or even GP2 stars like Bruno Senna.
In any case there are a lot of options and choices to be made before the start of next year, but I thought it would be fun to put down a potential wish list for next seasons driver line up. Lets see how much will come true and what wont.
Red Bull Racing
(If only! – No most likely to retain Sebastien Buemi – but they need an experienced driver badly!)
Lotus / Campos / Manor / USF1
Pedro De la Rosa
Oh and as we heard at the Singapore GP Jacques Villeneuve admitted interest in returning to F1 at a full time race seat for next season. Jacques if you are reading this then please DON’T return! There are plenty of reasons why you should be in F1 – all of which seem to have abandoned me at this point, but just give up the chase and concentrate on some of the things that are far more important to you like your erm …. singing or NASCAR racing …. yes far more important than F1.