Will one of these drivers get dropped?

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Sebastien Bourdais's second seasons has started poorly

One of the most unusual things about last season was the lack of mid-season driver swaps.

But the performance of some drivers and the inevitable rumours about changes means some may not last the year. Which of these drivers could be up for the chop?

Nelson Piquet Jnr

Flavio Briatore summed up Piquet’s drive in China like this:

Jesus Christ, it was a very, very bad race. I understand if you spin once, but this was kind of a contest: the more you spin the more points you have. He spun a lot but no points.

The usual explanation for Piquet’s position at Renault is that they want a driver who is capable but isn’t going to challenge number one Fernando Alonso.

But even if that is the case, there must be a point at which Piquet’s disappointing performances become a concern. He’s been out-qualified by Alonso for 21 consecutive Grands Prix, and his race performances don’t look much better by comparison either.

Briatore made the headlines last weekend by saying Brawn duo Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello weren’t good enough. But in Piquet he has the driver who looks least worthy of a place in Formula 1.

Potential replacements: Renault’s third driver is Romain Grosjean, who enters his second season of GP2 this year.

Giancarlo Fisichella

Now in his 14th season, Fisichella increasingly looks like a driver who’s going through the motions. While team mate Adrian Sutil has shown only occasional flashes of promise at Force India, the ultra-experienced Fisichella hasn’t even done that.

Potential replacements: Force India test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi is rumoured to have a race deal for 2010 already.

Sebastien Bourdais

Bourdais suffered in comparisons with rising mega-talent Sebastian Vettel last year, and only narrowly held onto his place at Toro Rosso over the winter.

But rookie team-mate Sebastien Buemi has out-qualified and out-raced him twice already. Last year Bourdais blamed his unfamiliarity with grooved tyres, which was fair enough, but now there are new excuses and they’re starting to wear a bit thin.

Potential replacements: Red Bull aren’t short of promising junior team drivers with World Series by Renault pilots Jaime Alguersuari and Brendon Hartley on the books.

Bourdais got the nod for 2009 over Takuma Sato, who was being considered because of his popularity in the Japanese market, which Red Bull wants to break into. The departure of Gerhard Berger from the scene is bad news for Senna’s chances of getting a drive here.

Kazuki Nakajima

Team mate Nico Rosberg has not done a great job of turning the FW31’s performance into points – but Nakajima has lagged even further behind, and compounded his lack of speed with mistakes.

Like Piquet, there are vested interests behind Nakajima’s place at Williams – namely engine supplier Toyota. But that doesn’t make his position at the team entirely secure.

Potential replacements: Toyota’s other promising young driver, Kamui Kobayashi, has shown good form in GP2 and has done a lot of F1 testing miles. Alternatively, Williams test driver Nico Hulkenberg dominated last year’s F3 Euroseries and impressed on his few GP2 Asia outings over the winter.

Which F1 drivers do you think have done the worst job so far this year? And which look most likely to lose their seats? Have your say in the comments.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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113 comments on “Will one of these drivers get dropped?”

  1. Piquet gets kicked out, no question.

  2. Bruno Senna turning down the DTM drive is interesting because to me it suggests he thinks he might still make it to F1 this season – and Renault was my first thought.

    So yes, if Piquet has three more races like the three he’s had so far this season, I think it’ll be game over.

    I expected a lot more from Bourdais and I’m not too impressed to see the ‘car doesn’t suit me’ excuses back for a second season. I still feel he’s got more in him but he needs a turnaround fast.

    Expect Fisi to bow out after Monza.

  3. Piquet or Bourdais. no doubt.

    1. Bourdais has been completely outshadowed by Buemi. Even though the younger Sebastien is much less experienced, he has triple the amount of points. He consistently outpaced Bourdais in the Chinese Grand Prix (he got into Q3 while Bourdais was stuck in Q1).

  4. I would not be surprised if all the above are out of their prospective position by the end of the season.

    1. I agree. Except for Nakajima, I think he will last the season then Kobayashi will come in for 2010.

  5. I was a staunch supporter of Bourdais last year, in amongst all the negativity about him. Even with all the bad luck I think he occasionally showed pace comparable to Vettel. I was hoping for big things this year, 2nd year in, slicks, reduced downforce, thought that would suit him better. I guess not. Having read the excuses I think he should get out the car and let someone else more talented and deserving have the seat. My french girlfriend agrees.

    Piquet I feel sorry for, he is in a especially demanding environment with Flavio, if he doesn’t produce in the next few dry races I wouldn’t be expecting to see him in the seat in the second half of the year.

    You can forgive Fisichella race performance if he could use his experience to develop the car, but not seen anything of that over the last couple of years either. Fisi is off to retirement at seasons end.

    Raikonnen, Ice cream and flip flops!?! ***!! Jean Todt would not have tolerated that, and I doubt Luca d’Montezemelo (sic) did either… I’d be surprised if he is still at Ferrari in 2010 (unless of course he suddenly turns around his season as per 2007).

    I’d like to see Senna in F1 this year or next, but I can’t help feeling its a long shot… so many other drivers in with a shout already doing testing duties et al.

  6. Brazilian press is reporting that according to motorline, Briatore has stated that Piquet has 3 more races to up his game or be replaced by Bruno Senna.

  7. Piquet, probably mid-season.

  8. I think Bourdais will be gone soon as well as Piquet. Down to the fact they are underperforming their team mates by far too much. My belief is that Piquet thinks it is an automatic right for him to be in F1 because his father was. The same with this for Bruno Senna, who to be honest would be in F1 if he was up to the job. Bourdais on the other hand, just doesn’t get F1 I think it’s too different from ChampCars and IRL for him to get along. He thrives in the environment where cars are nearly all equal but in F1 you’re lucky to be even driving for the lesser teams.

  9. Who are potential replacements for Fisi in FIF1? I know there are some for Williams and Renault, but not for this team.

    1. Scott Joslin
      23rd April 2009, 16:10

      Liuzzi is waiting in the Wings at Force India. As keith mentions there are some people that think he has a contract in his pocket for 2010 already.

    2. Current Force India Tonio Liuzzi, perhaps? :P

      Quick driver, nice guy, probably a bigger wasted talent than Davidson.

    3. Yeah I’ve read that about Liuzzi in quite a few places now.

      Liuzzi is one of those drivers that seems to be quite highly rated by a few journalists – ironically rather like Fisichella was before he went to Renault in ’05…

  10. I hope Nakajima turns it round because I think he showed a lot of potential in a not very good Williams last season. I’m not really sure whats gone wrong for him this season because the car is certianly better but he just doesn’t seem to be getting the results.

    As for Piquet, I don’t think he is as bad as the results have suggested – he did well in GP2. I just think he struggles with confidence and the fact that the Renault team currently is built around Alonso, leaving Piquet in no doubt that he is firmly second choice, can’t help that.

    1. I also thought that Nakajima was equal to, if not a bit better than Rosberg last season at Williams. At the moment it seems as though he’s gotten a bit of bad luck- indeed I hope he turns the ship around in the next few races.

  11. A lot of teams stick with the same with younger driver who seem to have a lot of potential but often have problems keeping a consistent record on the track. Young drivers may help nurture talent, but that doesn’t mean that they will return the favour to the team, particularly if they don’t perform. Sometimes it is better to go with more experienced drivers (Brawn has stuck with Button and Barrichello, and you can’t get much more experienced than that) but if the results aren’t there, then it’s time to go.

    Hell, Renault for example would be better going back to Jacques Villeneuve or taking a gamble on someone that’s going to get some publicity rather than plod along with a driver that’s not going anywhere.

  12. Piquet has used up his last Joker, he’s got to go. I think the team would benefit if they had a better driver to back Alonso up.

    I don’t like Bourdais, he seems very whiny, and he cries like a girl too. I mean, what kind of self respecting man would do that everytime he crashed? If you lost a championship at the last corner, well thats alright, not because you’re bad at your job.

    I dont believe I’ve ever watched an F1 race with Fisi not in it, but yeah, sentiments aside, Fisi’s time is up..retirement mate!

    Nakajima is nothing more than a publicity stunt. If they wanted a good Japanese driver, they should have given Sato a shot. I kinda rate him.

    1. It wasn’t Bourdais crying on the radio in Malaysia, it was Buemi.

  13. Piquet will be out. He’ll have to show he can get close to Alonso in the next 3 races with no mistakes to justify his place.

    Bourdais will be out too by mid season, unless he can out qualify and out race Buemi a few more times.

    Nakajima, I reckon will hold out for the remainder of the season as will Fisichella.

  14. I can’t wait for Fisi to leave. I think he’s always been a “deadbeat teammate” and I don’t understand why he’s had such a long career in F1.

    I’d love to see Takuma Sato return, he’s always been underrated and if he has a decent car this time around, I think he could do quite well.

    I so badly want Sebastien Bourdais to do better! He’s very talented, just can’t seem to gather it all up in F1 and I think his time is running out.

    If Nelson Piquet is bringing any money with him, he might linger for the season despite Flavio’s insistent criticism. Yes, Alonso needs a subordinate teammate, but jeez, Nelson is doing too good a job of it. At least it’s kind of fun to guess how many laps he’ll last until he crashes out.

    1. I know what you mean about guessing how many laps until Piquet crashes out- it’s becoming the regular standard to gage his performance by.

    2. I agree on the Bourdais statement,I was one of the ones who believed he would do better on the slicks but, he just can’t seem to find his way.

  15. These are the dirvers I think bout be back in 10, if they make it through 09.

    Heikki Kovalainen
    Sebastien Bourdais
    Giancarlo Fisichella
    Kazuki Nakajima
    Nelsinho Piquet

    Will not be with current team
    Kimi Räikkönen
    Nico Rosberg
    Fernando Alonso

    Will see if I call this one.

    1. Eddie Irvine
      23rd April 2009, 16:01

      Rosberg–> ???

    2. Raikkonen said many times Ferrari is his last team

    3. Kovalainen, I’m not sure. He’s only finished one race so far and when he did he beat his team mate.

      But Raikkonen, yeah, I could see that happening.

    4. Kovalainen is the best Number 2 option to Lewis Hamilton at McLaren. Not that much fast and indeed silent. He won’t lose his seat unless he wants to leave.

  16. firsts three for sure, nakajima is improving. bordais is going nowhere, fisi was never that fast and do i really have to explain pq?

  17. Before the season began I didn’t think any driver would be replaced mid season but after the performance of the drivers mentioned in the article in the first few races I wouldn’t be surprised if any of them were replaced before the end of the season.

    One thing that may save some of them for the rest of this season is the testing ban. Unless their replacement had done some pre-season testing in the car, then their first time driving a 2009 F1 car would be Friday practice, which wouldn’t be ideal.

    Unless their performances vastly improve for the rest of the season, then even if we get three new teams in 2010 I don’t think any of them will get a drive in F1 next year unless Williams have to keep Nakajima if they want Toyota engines.

  18. Eddie Irvine
    23rd April 2009, 16:00

    I would like to see an ant&takouma return, but fisi’s appearances aren’t that bad in order to leave mid-season. I can’t understand why Buradais got it so wrong, he is a champion, he was great in champcars, I hope he survives, he deserves an f1 seat. According to Piquet and Kazuki I can’t understand why these guys didn’t replaced in the summer, they are really really bad!!!

  19. Scott Joslin
    23rd April 2009, 16:12

    If things keep going badly Kimi could be out on his backside by mid season.

  20. HounslowBusGarage
    23rd April 2009, 16:20

    We’ve been told that being an F1 driver is the most hotly contested job in the world.
    But between last season and now, only one driver changed (Coulthard out, Buemi in), and that just 5% staff turnover in a year. Hardly revolving doors, is it?
    I think Fiz ought to retire as gracefully as he can. He just doesn’t seem up to it any more. Piquet and Bourdais – well, they never really were up to it, were they?

    1. And Coulthard retired, I don’t believe he was pushed

  21. AnOldFormulaOneFan
    23rd April 2009, 16:20

    Piquet is a joke. I likes his father a lot – great drivers, but the kid is a mess… I think that if he is STILL there is before Mr. Fernando Alonso can’t cope with any competition for the team’s attention – he must be ‘numero uno’ and after being treaded as an equal in 2007 at McLaren with a rookie (actual World Champion)… I bet his Renault contract says that he has a vote on his team mate choose.

    Old man Briattore needed so much to keep Alonso (mainly because Renault is very interested in the Spanish market) that he could have a chimp on the second car if the spaniard asked for…

    It’s another one of those guys like Schumacher… always rookie teammates and when they started showing promise, they were replaced… Will be waiting for that promised book from Barrichello telling stuff about the time he was on Ferrari – on these days that everybody talks bad about McLaren, we haven’t even seen 10% of the all mighty Scuderia Ferrari and all the garbage it went backstage, behind the super champ Shumi…

    Bourdais can go also – it’s another occupied place that can be filled with a lot better. France quit Formula 1, with a track as Magny Cour, because they don’t wanted to spend some bucks building proper infrastructure, so, drop the drivers also. I think we are save from french rookies for now, at least from seeing the Prost out spring in A1GP… God… we see the ones who are good and the one who have money to drive…

    Fisichella should already be gone – I only understand he’s not because Force India was a new team and need one experience driver… But, that’s no more… And it’s another open place.

    Kazuki Nakajima is a slightly different story. Actually, he’s the only japanese driver in the lot. Japan is a big market for Bernie and his buddies, so I see his departure more difficult, compared with any of the others.

    1. I think Renault won’t have any chance to win a constructors championship with Piquet in the team. So, I’m not sured that is all down to Don Fernando Alonso. Saying that, Senna and Schumacher as you pointed out did similar things through out their careers.

    2. I think it’s more than a bit unfair to say that France, as a country, has “quit F1” because the national finances aren’t being directed towards building one of Bernie’s Tilke-dromes. The deal with France is very similar to here in America- if Bernie is too ignorent or greedy to deal with private investors, let him go somewhere else.

      As for the drivers, if a good young French driver deserves a shot in F1, let him have it. It’s Bernie’s fault that there’s no french GP- if he diden’t like Magny-Cours, he should have never left Paul Ricard (a popular track, from what I gather) in the first place.

    3. Even more odd considering Bernie owns Paul Ricard. I would have thought he’d want to move the French GP there so he gets to keep 100% of everything from staging a race.

    4. Bourdais is Canadian?

    5. they quit Paul Ricard at the tiem because it was unsafe.

      I was closed, completely refurbed by one of Bernie’s assets and turned into a test track with the world’s most advanced safety features, and other hi-tech stuff.

      Still, its location made it quite a challenge to fill up with fans, and even if the infrastructure wouldve been fixed, I doubt that they wouldve run anything near a profit… Magny Cours or Paul Ricard, F1 races at bernie’s prices are near unaffordable these days.

  22. My bet is for Domenicali before any of these drivers, he has shown that is the foolish of all the people in F1 (and I include Bernie and Max ).

  23. Bigbadderboom
    23rd April 2009, 16:23

    Piquet is becoming n embarassment for Renault, I think they need an older hand that won’t challenge Alonso as team leader but someone who can give some feedback and help with the cars development.

    I think Force India value Fisi because of his experience,although he hasn’t had an outstanding start, it’s not as bad when you think he has the least developed car on the grid.

    Seb Bourdais is looking less likely to make the grade now, his confidence looks shot, and as everybody else is saying he seems to be full of excuses. I think Sato is the man for the job, I like him and he seems to have a more grounded personality, Bourdais is shaken up far too easily.

  24. How is it possible that a huge, wealthy nation like Japan, where there are many motorsport series – including the quite prestigous Formula Nippon, and huge motor companies, has never had a good driver in F1???
    Despite always having at least one driver in the field for as long as I remember (20 years).
    Most of them have been a disgrace.

    BTW. The new Formula Nippon Swift is an incredibly beautiful racing car, WOW:

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      23rd April 2009, 20:23

      How is it possible that a huge, wealthy nation like Japan, where there are many motorsport series . . .

      In exactly the same way that the US has been bereft of class F1 drivers since Andretti senior. Cultural insularity, inability to see a larger picture, over-institutionalised national opportunities.

    2. Well, they don’t speak English very well, and that way, they can’t get their team prep the car the way they want it; Takagi was one perfect example; he had raw pace, but didn’t understand anything.
      When you get into f1 there’s so many more technologies that you have to learn about; if you dont understand technological explanations in English you’re doomed.

      In the states, it think its more a problem of culture: they dont like the ‘european style’ slow, uneventful, twisty parades, but rather racing at topspeed, wheel-to-wheel & counterclockwise on ovals. And if it rains, you don’t want to be at the races anyway.
      Also, US open-wheel racing has suffered immensely during ‘the schism’, and many talented american drivers switched to NASCAR for money, competition, and recognition.

    3. In the American case, coming from an American, series like NASCAR have indeed been the top draw for nearly all of America’s top tier racing talent. It’s not that Americans are ignorant or inward-focused- it’s just that most young American drivers have seen NASCAR as their best opportunity, in terms of publicity, money, and a much less stressful lifestyle. On the flip side of that, how many teams and/or sponsors have wanted to make a push to get a good American driver into a team? Credit Red Bull for at least attempting it, while many other teams were either afraid of or were ignorent of the concept on purpose, from what I can see.

  25. Piquet Jr for sure…….. He is wasting one seat………….

  26. Piquet-gone before Monaco, replaced by Senna.
    Fisi-gone after Monza, (maybe before), replaced by Liuzzi.
    Bourdais-stays through the season but gone if he can’t beat Buemi.
    Nakajima-Stays through the season.
    Rosberg-Stays throught the season but gone after season.Goes to either Mclaren or Renault if the Reggie is still in the sport.
    Kimi-Gone after season, replaced by who else, Frank Alonso!
    Heidfeld-Gone after the season.
    Don’t forget, probably two new teams next year. Someone will probably pick up Davidson & Sato.
    Who knows, Mercedes may pull out and be just an engine supplier. It gets interestinger and interestinger.

  27. I don’t think any of them will be sacked. Some, like Fisi, may leave voluntarily and retire.

    A lot of expenses go into getting a driver, fitting him into the team, etc. There’s tremendous inertia once a hire is done; so much so that there’s little percentage in doing it all over again mid-season. Especially with some of the teams that started off on a back foot (Renault…).

    2010 is a different matter. There may be some shakeups then, but I think it’ll be less than what some of the comments here anticipate. Just like between 08 and 09.

    @Damon – those front wings are awesome.

  28. Although I like Bourdais more than the other three, I think all 4 of them will be gone by the end of the season.

    I also think Heidfeld might throw in the towel if his and BMW’s 2009 continues as it is

  29. schumi the greatest
    23rd April 2009, 16:45

    Suprised piquet got the nod this year to be honest…its not just the fact that hes competing against the best all round driver in f1 at the moment, hes miles off, only occasionly getting out of q3 in a car alonso is regularly in q3 with.

    Shame about fisichella, ive always rated him but the last 2 seasons have been bad….i think hes completley lost his confidence after the battering he took against alonso.

    Bourdais just cant cut the mustard.

    Nakajimi shows flashes of speed but way too many mistakes!

    Id like to see bruno senna given a chance and ive read alot of good things about brendan hartley.

    i think renault would be better going for a more experienced driver though, they had kovalainen then piquet…why not go for someone like webber if its a possibility.

    1. Hartley will be in F1 sooner rather than later- he’s the next Red Bull prospect to get the nod for an F1 seat.

  30. If having a Japanese driver is so important, bring back Sato. At least he brings some flashes of brilliance to F1, even if he is a bit of a hazard behind the wheel.

    I’d rather see him going around in the Williams hell for leather (and crashing half the time) than see Nakajima just finish in the double-figured places.

  31. schumi the greatest
    23rd April 2009, 16:49

    @ F1withMySon:

    the reason fisi has had such a long career in f1 is because he was very highly rated in the late 90’s early 00’s. Always got more from the car than his team mates did and many people though he had the talent to be a regular race winner if he moved to 1 of the big teams. he eventually got that move to renault, won his 1st race for them but then alonso just blew him away.

    I thought his experience would be great for force india, someone who they could rely on too bring the car home and score the odd point but hes been a big let down and really should retire now to ensure everyone doesnt remember him as a crap driver.

    1. Sorry but Fisi got his first win in a totally uncompetitive Jordan-Ford, in a rain-soaked race in brazil. The race was red-flagged after Alonso crashed awfully on the main straight and at first it was believed that Kimi had won, but some days later they figured that the Jordan has already crossed the line for the next lap (Fisi had overtaken kimi) and thus had won.

  32. But what about the new teams for next year? Bernie has made it very clear new teams will be in next year. So if all of the above are replaced ( i think 3 should nakajima deserves a few more chances) then that makes 7 potentially open seats for ’10 (usf1 + lola) being new teams, we could see real competition for places.

    Experience is wearing thin in F1 only 3 world champions in the field and only 5 drivers who have won more than 5 races (Rubens alonso hamilton massa and kimi) and only half the field having started more than 50 races.

    This could soon be a serious issues for some teams with the amount of testing limited, you need experienced drivers to tune set ups, remember hamilton struggling beginning of ’08 because he didnt have alonso helping him.

    1. Bernification
      23rd April 2009, 18:56

      Richard, Lewis really couldn’t set up the car at Australia, could he?

    2. Or maybe it was Alonso who was struggling in ’08 (and now in ’09) because Hamilton was not helping him develop the car?

      This year, McLaren seems to be developing their car faster than Renault.

  33. Nelson Piquet Jnr and Giancarlo Fisichella have to go. The tems should cut their losses and bring in some fresh talent

  34. piquet gone before monaco easily he is the worst driver in the field. Bourdais gone by Spa. I think Nak will last the whole season but will be replaced at the end. And I don’t think they will do anything at force india until they have a indian driver ready. Cause really they are the back grid team who cares who their drivers are. Only sutil seams to be doing a good job.

  35. Arun.......India
    23rd April 2009, 17:18

    I Guess piquet will be the guy out first….Once Flavio starts opening criticizing he will fire him soon……I think he will be replaced by crosjean or de grassi…….The bruno senna story if i am not wrong will be one more rumor started by the Brazil press.

    1. Arun.......India
      23rd April 2009, 17:19

      thats openly and not opening…..

  36. Bourdais deserves to see out the season at least. Piquet should be got rid of right now, as he appears fairly useless.

    I really want to see bourdais do well, if only for the fact i stupidly put £50 on for him to win the championship at 400-1 when I beleived it would be wins that settled it. hey ho.

  37. Its a little early for all of this generally—we could be saying the same here of Kovalainen, who ruined his first two races on his own. Nakajima and Fisichella have not really had a good chance in the new cars.

    But its high time for Piquet. He’s had plenty of time including last year. Compare him to Nakajima, who has the speed, but whose mistakes usually come from an excess of aggression. And last year, Najakima showed his speed on occasion. Piquet is desperately slow at all times, full of excuses, and full of mistakes.

    His resume is still buttressed by his hale resistance to Hamilton in GP2, but that memory is fading, and Alonso’s failure to dust off Hamilton at McLaren impairs that story. He might do better in a team where the manager is not mocking his every stumble (compare to Kovalainen’s loving treatment at McL), but, again he has never proved himself in F1. Put Senna in that car.

    1. Hamilton was on his 1st season in GP2, Piquet not… that does make a difference.

      Still, I think you’ve got a point here, he has shown that he’s got raw speed. But it seems he’s struggling to adjust to F1, and I suspect he seriously lacks confidence in the face of his teammate and teamboss.

  38. Bourdais would be at the top of the list for me, two seasons of being out performed by a rookie.

    Piquet is the worst of the bunch, but I don’ think Flav would want to take the chance of replacing him with a good driver that could annoy Alonso. Really Renault should just run one car!

    Fisichella, he can stay :)

    Nakajima, I dunno, he was showing great improvements last year, but this year things have not looked to good, races aside, his qualifying has been extremely poor. I think he will be in the car all year, but if he doesn’t deliver this year, it will be his last.

  39. Mussolini's Pet Cat
    23rd April 2009, 18:31

    My money is on kimi raikkonen getting the boot.

    1. Bernification
      23rd April 2009, 19:11

      I agree, but not sure whether he will retire or get the boot.

      Don’t think Ferrari are going to achieve much this year, or until they rearrange the infra-structure (few years), and Kimi will want to walk away before he damages his reputation too much.
      That’s assuming he can be bothered

  40. I ve read that A. Wurz ‘s name has been mentionned as a replacement for N. Piquet. Do you know anything about this possible move ?

    I am a bit saddened by S. Bourdais’ results. I have the feling this guy could achieve a lot more. I agree that he is running short of excuses. His spin behind the safety car was a bitembarrassing. Needs to score a podium soon or points regularly.

    1. I doubt it about Wurz. Didn’t he officially retire from F1 in 2007 ? I dare say he might reconsider for a seat at a top-running team, but that isn’t Renault at the moment.

  41. Only a driver with no funding will be dropped, Flav needs 5mill to fund his diffuser, Piquet is not without… has Bourdais paid for his seat?

  42. seeing piquet remind me of alex yoong….very bad driver and very uncompetitive…

  43. Also a bit saddened at Bourdais I really thought he would be achieving a whole lot more but he seems to be blowing it.

    As for Piquet the whole thing is reliant upon the sponsorship that Carlos Helu Slim is providing to Flav. That sponsorship is the money that is being used to pay Alonso so for Flav it means no Nelson no Fernando.

    The only factor for Flav would be if Carlos Slim will accept having a different South American driver rather than Nelsinho. If that’s the case then expect Piquet to be dumped for Senna or Di Grassi.

    However that sponsorship stuff was last season’s news and so I don’t know if it’s still in effect for this season, I suspect most likely it is since Renault already have a more competent test driver in Romain Grosjean.

  44. In bourdais is still relatively a rookie, only into his second season, indycar isnt quite f1

  45. Hopefully Massa and Schumacher gone from Ferrari, then they can win again with Kimi.

  46. Actually, I’d add Sutil to that list too. He crashes way too often and he doesn’t really bring more than Fisichella does.

    1. That’s an interesting view- I don’t disagree with it, but it seems many others on this site believe Sutil belongs with a top team.

    2. Well it’s hard to tell since Force India is a backmarker team with a lot of reliability issues (in 2008 at least), but I see Sutil and Fisichella as evenly matched. They both crash a lot (5 times in 2008) and it’s not like one is consistently beating the other is it?

      Qualifying in 2008 was 9 for Fisi ahead and 9 for Sutil ahead. They only finished 4 races together and in those 4 Fisi was ahead twice and Sutil was ahead in the other 2.

      In 2009 it’s qualifying 2 for Fisi and 1 for Sutil and races 2 for Sutil and 1 for Fisi (but then the races were quite chaotic so it’s hard to say anyhting from that really)

      So if people want to ditch Fisi, then why not Sutil?

      Sutil was up front in China, but that was due to his strategy of doing an impossible 36 lap stint on one set of tyres. It reminds me of the movie Cars. Lightning McQueen leads the race because he doesn’t change tyres and then runs into trouble when his tyres wear out. Sutil tried the same trick and predictably crashed.

    3. Indeed, it is good to hear a different viewpoint from the norm. I don’t have an opinion either way about Sutil, but it’s good to hear some different opinions about one of the lesser-noticed guys on the grid.

    4. I’d say the main reason people are talking more about Fisi getting the boot is because of his level of effort. Sutil has at least show a few races where he was challenging for Force India’s first points, despite the car being so awful. Fisi, by comparison, is consistently at the back of the grid. From all outside appearances he doesn’t really seem to be pressing to improve, and may be content to just pilot his car around at or near last place and collect a pay check. Its really not hard to understand why his effort is so diminished. Up until a few years ago he was highly regarded in some circles. The thought was if he just had a good car he could succeed. Then he had the opportunity to drive a good car at Renault and didn’t produce the results some expected. That lead to him having to accept a ride at arguably the worst team in F1. Clearly this would be a big blow to the ego, which usually results in a less motivated driver. He really should retire, because its clear he just doesn’t care anymore now that he’s at Force India.

    5. Fisi was ahead of Hamilton at Interlagos. His race went horribly wrong after that, but still. He has his higher position stunts now and then too.

  47. Piquet out and Alvaro Parente goes to Renault ;)

  48. Wow, talk about a range of opinions!

    As a McLaren fan, I believe Heikki is a great driver who has gotten overshadowed by Lewis all of last season and now this year. He drove a better race than Lewis last week, and the team would be wise to keep him and give him more support.

    Piquet is clearly not up to F1, but the financing is indeed what may be keeping him at Renault. If he really keeps up these poor performances, it would not suprise me to see him gone after the season and have Flavio rework the finances. That is of course assuming that Falvio- or even Renault as a constructor- is still involved in F1.

    Nakajima is safe in my view at Williams due to the Toyota connection, unless they want someone else in the seat. Kobayashi could be a candidate, but I was thinking Toyota would want him for their own team if/when Trulli retires.

    Bourdais is an interesting situation- I believe he has skills, but has been hit by tremendous bad luck. If it wasen’t for that engine stall, he would have been on the podium last year at Monza.

    With Fisi, he’d be higher up the order if the car was better. He is not a top-notch driver, but rather a compitent teammate in a quality car, as he was for Alonso. At the moment, he’s playing team leader in a second-rate car, and it’s not a role well-suited for him. If he dosen’t pull the Monza retirement deal, he’ll step down after the season and be replaced by Liuzzi, with Vijay continuing to answer questions about why Chandhok isn’t driving one of his cars.

    As for Ferrari, I can see Raikkonen taking off after the season if the team continues it’s lack of form. If he’s gone, it’s hello to Fernando in red.

  49. The word in nz on brendon hartly is all he’s waiting for is his superlicense and he is the reserve driver for red bull currently DC said he will jump in if needed but the good oil is that he is there to replace webber if he doesntperform. Mr red bull isn’t overly impressed with all the talk and no results.If bourdais doesn’t perform I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s sitting by bueimi this season as it look’s as if webber might have got his sh#t together.As for piquet why would you get rid of him he’s gold the TV time with all the spin’s and crash’s make’s him one of the most seen cars on telly.The amount of time he’s on the telly trying to dig himself out of the kitty litter is a sponsor’s wet dream.

  50. Piquet for sure; although it pains me to say this about a Brazilian driver, but sorry dude you don’t make the cut.

    I felt sorry for Bourdais, until I heard what he jabbered on about in china. the race shouldn’t have started my bottom…. Vettel is old team mate was in the meantime saying, “nothing that we haven’t seen before”. i think that is the spirit that characterizes an F1 driver of course you ad the skill. but both are dependent of each other i think. look at Raikkonen, it think he should be on that list above just because of his attitude.

  51. I still think Giorgio Pantano deserve a seat. Giorgio is a skilled experienced driver and Senna is also a pretty good driver. Senna also has a lot of potential and with his name could attract sponser’s.

    1. I agree! He’s had a real tough first time with f1 and Jordan, and he’s fought himself back into the game the hard way by winning GP2. Will never be world champ, but all the other young stuff he beat, maybe theyve got the talent, but not the experience nor the pace (yet).

    2. i mean Pantano.

      Senna too, but he’s more for the future

    3. I agree on Pantano- it would be quite interesting to see what he can do, and he’d probably be cheaper to sign than some of the big names out there.

  52. And this is Barichello’s 18th season.

  53. Bourdais may have a point. The driver who actually developed the car was Vettel. But he just goes on and on and on..Crying can’t save him this time.

    As for Piquet, money changing hands can blind the eyes to performance short comings. But I wonder how long that will last.

    If Renault take Nakajima, they may have almost as many spins, but not as much broken wings.

  54. Prisoner Monkeys
    24th April 2009, 0:23

    I wouldn’t be too broken up if Fisichella suddenly lost his drive. I think he’s the most over-rated driver out there, which is embarassing because I don’t think he’s very well-rated to begin with. He went through a string of uncompetitive cars and put in suitably uncompetitive performances, and then he somehow landed a Renault drive for 2005, probably because Briatore used his I-don’t-want-a-drver-who-can-challenge-Alonso logic. And speaking of Briatore, he should go, too. Piquet’s Formula One career might have turned out very differently if he’d had a team principal who actually paid him attention other than to criticise.

    1. Nah you can’t get rid of Flavio the paddock won’t be the same without his ridiculous outbursts lol

  55. I think you can compare Piquet jnr and rosberg jnr as much as you can their respective fathers.
    Keke Rosberg was always better than Piquet senior. Pisuet was lucky to get his 3 wdc’s. it’s the same now with young rosberg being way better than Piquet.
    Also if Piquet jnr gets the push from Renault then you’ll see a hge hissy fit from Piquet snr, just like he did when he was a driver.

    Of all the champion/should have been champion offspring i.e. hill/villeneuve/rosberg and piquet, Piquet has to be the worst by a big margin.

  56. “The word in nz on brendon hartly is all he’s waiting for is his superlicense and he is the reserve driver for red bull currently DC said he will jump in if needed but the good oil is that he is there to replace webber if he doesntperform. Mr red bull isn’t overly impressed with all the talk and no results”

    Do you mean Webber, the man who helped Red Bull to a 1-2 win in China?

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      24th April 2009, 8:53

      I think that’s a lot like the Spanish tabloids insisting that Alonso is Maranello-bound despite Ferrari’s repeated protests that they have no interest in him. I seriously doubt Hartley is going to be replacing Mark Webber, one of the most experienced drivers on the grid. If anything, he might be called in to replace Bourdais.

      Then again, Webber is Australian and Hartley is a Kiwi. The New Zealanders would LOVE to see him upstaged; there’s no love lost between the two countries when it comes to sports. Hartley was originally placed on notice in case Webber’s health didn’t improve in ime for the season opener, but there’s no way he’s going to replace the Australian.

  57. If Piquet is going to leave for Senna I will gladly go to Renault HQ and hold the door open for him. I might just drive him to Heathrow, to make sure he makes his flight!
    Honestly, it has been a long, long time since I have seen an F1 driver quite as poor as Nelson Jnr. Its a horrible thing to say, but his career is hanging by a thread.
    I openly admitted my disappointment weeks ago when Ross Brawn decided against taking on Bruno Senna. With Briatore, he is unpredictable, but he is also extremely flamboyant. To have the legendary Senna mark on one of his cars may well prove too big a temptation, especially when the season so far has gone so poorly. What has Flavio got to lose in Bruno, when Piquet has proved such a disaster.
    I also firmly believe that Force India maywell offload atleast one of their drivers. For all of his experience, Fisichella has been very quite, and Sutil’s mistake last week may come back to haunt him. Vijay Mallya has invested hundreds of millions into that team, and has yet to score a point. If I know one thing
    about billionaires, they are not renowned for their

    1. That’s a fantastic opening statement ;)

  58. One day, one of these may will get dropped. But I doubt its gonna happen anytime soon. Especially considering that whoever replaces them will be guaranteed slower the first few races, most likely until the next season.
    Thats because f1 will be as new to them as it was to Piquet last year and Heikki the year before (both had a poor first half of the season), and exacerbating this, whoever their replacement will be, will hhave run extremely little the car before their first friday session, because of the in-season testing limitations.

    Nowadays, teams with their own ‘driver development programmes’, esp. RB, Renault and Toyota, reserve the testdriver seat for whoever’s at the top of the pecking order in this ‘youth squad’, primarily to contractually prevent that your pupil goes somewhere else mid-season.
    Now thats really nice for these kids, but it means that all the other youngsters don’t get a fighting chance even for a test drive with these teams. Other teams, meanwhile, seem to take testdrivers a bit more serious and look for some experience in F1, like Ferrari (badoer, gene) & McLaren (de la rosa). Of course, sometimes these half-rejects earn themselves a second chance on the grid, like Massa and Glock did.

    But whereas Glock (who drove in a Jordan in ’04) got his 2nd chance after winning Gp2 in ’07 and being a regular testdriver, Pantano (who drove in the very same Jordan in ’04) didn’t harvest a single offer following his ’08 GP2 championship. Meanwhile, Buemi, who was 6th in his first year that same championship, got himself a ride with TR, bypassing the highly talented Di Grassi, and other rookies Senna and Grosjean (each of whom was well faster that the Swiss) and Maldonado. So Buemi was surely the most logical pick for that seat? Based on his RB credentials, yes.

    Also, he and his ‘struggling’ (???) teammate apparently secured their seat in a 3-way shootout december test session with takuma sato. Unsurprisingly, given the fact that it was sato’s first outing with the ’08 RB (a car with which both bourdais and buemi had made a lot of miles earlier in the season), and his first F1 drive since april. And absolutely logical considering that both Buemi(RB) and Bourdais carry more dollars than Sato.

    Piquet jr -> Grosjean: has not raced an inch in the ’09 car, but some experience with the ’08 car / Kahn: has money but only driven last year’s renault down a saudi hiway
    Bourdais -> Hartley?: superlicence denied as he lacks experience, and he cant make up for that in mid-season due to the testing ban: maybe next year, then?
    Nakajima -> Hulk: he’s done 3 full days of testing, including a the last test at Jerez.
    Fisi/Sutil -> Liuzzi: hasnt raced an inch in the ’09 car.

    I actually dont think Fisi is doing any less than Sutil so far, nor do I think Bourdais is totally outclassed by Buemi. 2-1 in qualification duel, and both have made a blooper so far, buemi just got a bit luckier with the points.
    Piquet and Nakajima do seem to have an issue, tho. Still, three races is too early to judge, and as the next races are less likely to figure rain, so the bloopers will likely dry out too and everything will be more or less quiet.
    And let’s not forget that Piquet is right in between a rcok (alonso) and a hard place (Flavio), so that’s not the easiest environment to work in.

  59. Keith,

    Your blog is (IMHO) the best one for F1 fans, you don’t need to copy The Times online Ed Gorman’s blog.

  60. Drivers to be replaced:


    Dela Rosa (if McLaren will let him go)

    1. McLaren won’t let Dela Rosa go. The only way he gets a drive is as a temporary replacement to finish out the year if Fisichella retires or is forced out. He did some testing work in the Force India car, so he would be the best choice to step in there. The question then is how desperate is Dela Rosa to break into F1. He didn’t have many, or really any, good things to say about the Force India car.

  61. Changes will be very hard this year, due to the testing ban. Fisi deserves to go the most, because he obviously doesn’t want to be at Force India since he doesn’t even seem to be trying anymore. But he won’t go because Force India is so bad right now the benefit of a different driver wouldn’t make up for the costs of reconfiguring the car to them. If they could get a driver they knew they wanted next year and could lock him up for next year too, they might make the move and just treat the rest of this season as extended testing to prepare that young driver for next year. Since I don’t see them eyeing anyone now, I doubt any move will happen here.

    Piquet is the next most deserving, as he really hasn’t ever shown anything at Renault. Alonso surely likes it that his number 2 driver isn’t a threat, but he can’t like being so far down in the team standings. There is a huge gap in between Piquet’s performance and the level of performance that would threaten Alonso. If the next two races go like the first three, Piquet is gone.

    Bourdais is gone mid-season as well, barring a big improvement in the next four or five races. No one is buying his excuses anymore and Buemi is proving that a completely green rookie can out perform Bourdais. He’s not veteran enough to help in the car’s development, so look for Red Bull to bring in a new youngster to take the drive. Unless Piquet’s next two races look like Heikki’s first two races this season, Bourdais could be the first move, since Red Bull has plenty of drivers ready and waiting to take the seat, who are already with the organization.

  62. I think it’s too early to tell. All the races have been so topsy turvy lately that anyone could have been caught out.

    After all, weren’t we all writing Massa off about this time last year?

  63. i would love to see Bruno Senna, Takuma Sato and Kamui in a f1 seat asap

  64. I personally think that Piquet should be out. Although Senna is on my ‘out list’

  65. Its always inetresting to read how peoples opinions can vary so much on the same thing. I agree with Pink Peril in that it is still quite early to really tell, although I have still got my opinions formed and ready to be aired!

    Piquet Jr – Hmm seems most on here are in agreement concerning this guy. I am generally in agreement, however I dont think he should be replaced just yet. Last year I am aware was not so great for him but it was his rookie year – others are forgiven for mistakes, so he should be too. This season – not a great start – but there are plenty of other guys who have had equally bad starts and arent being called to be replaced. He isnt overly fast, and he really does need to stop starting 17th – but others have been off the pace too, Alonso is a very clear number one at the team there, with good reason, and his qualifying was so massivly far ahead of Piquet last time out partly because he had new parts and Piquet didnt. That said Piquet hasnt outqualified Alonso yet has he? I want to give him just a little longer before i pass full judgement on him. He does need to dramatically improve though.

    Fisichella – I think he will retire at the end of the year. He is not being massively outdone by Sutil, but I think he is at least being matched. I think Sutil will have the slight edge over Fisi over the whole year. Put it this way, if I was to be told that a Force India was in say 8th place and on for a point, my first guess would be Sutil. Also, he has got to be nearing the end of his career anyways, and with Liuzzi reportedly waiting in the wings, I think it will be Fisichella who is ousted, rather than Sutil.

    As for Sutil – I dont particularly rate him as a top top driver just in the wrong car – I think he is quite a solid driver, but nothing spectacular. I would rank most of the grid higher if I were picking drivers – no offence to him or owt!

    I think it is a real shame that Bourdais is struggling so much – his achievements before F1 were amazing, and it almost saddens me that he is finding it difficult to adapt. That said, if he cant adapt after two years, I think someone else should have a go.

    Nakajima is one of the more interesting ones to me. I dont really rate him that highly. I think he had a distinctly average year last year, and has a habit of crashing rather a lot. He wasnt really close to Rosberg last year, he hasnt really been this year. I think he should be swapped at the end of the year – unless of course he suddenly decided he wants to keep the car on the track for an entire race distance. I rank him not much more than I do Piquet. he should see out the season i think though. Plus I want Hulkenberg to appear in F1 next year, and if that were to be at the expense of Nakajima then I wouldnt be against that.

    Lastly (I know I have gone on a bit!) – Kovalainen I find it odd him being mentioned in the same context as the previous mentioned guys – I dont think he has done too badly at all! Yeees he had trouble getting past the first lap a couple of times this year, but he did well in China – and last year too – he was quite an obvious number two to Hamilton at Mclaren last year – and I think he did well for the most part. I think given the right support he could do really quite well for the team.

    I dont think anyone should be out before the end of the year – but I think Piquet and Fisichella are the two most likely – in that order. If anyone goes i think they should be replaced by Sato – he is ace, and will always give more than 100% – plus he has that little bit of experience which surely would be needed if you were replacing someone. Replacing someone for a rookie mid season becuase you want better results surely defeats the purpose.

    1. Great overview. I agree on almost everything.

      I only think that Piquet should be gone as soon as possible. He shows no progress, he is nowhere near Alonso in qualifying and in the races he never impresses either. He crashes in half his races (although last time he managed to just get it over the finish)

      He failed miserably in 21 races. Why would he suddenly start performing in his 22nd?

  66. As much as I support Bourdais, he is not looking good right now with his comments-by mid season they will have this car sorted-if he is not better by then he should go.
    Suprisingly, my other guy is Kimi! Man, Ferrari needs a leader now to drag this car into shape. Looks like they need Alonso. I know this will not happen this season, but…

  67. What needs to happen here is SeaBass needs to drop his dumb-ass manager.

  68. KingHamilton&co
    24th April 2009, 18:47

    I hope all the listed guys get the chop, they’re all just wasts of space, especially piquet jnr-id give him 3 more races before flav does the right thing….

  69. I can’t disagree more with those people who say Bourdais had an amzing career before f1.

    In champcar he was driving the best car in the field by a mile and didn’t have a very good team mate.

    It was a bit like having a ferrari in a field of force indias, with schumacher drivingand having sutil has his team mate.

    If Bourdais had been in the proper IRL then he would have been midfield runner who gets the occasional win.

    In f1 he is smply outmatched by most everyone on the grid.

    He is relying on a reputation mad in champcar that is unfounded in my opinion.

    Even someone like Piquet jnr or Nakajima would have been able to do the same as Bourdais did in champcar.

  70. The critical problem for drivers at the moment is the ban on testing. Without this avenue to go down, certain drivers have very few options left open to them.
    In many ways, I can understand teams going for experienced drivers as did Brawn Gp with Button and Barrichello, and Force India with Fisichella, to use just three examples. However, there comes a point when a team must realise the potential of a younger, fresher star.
    In Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull have unearthed a very exciting new talent. Putting Vettel through Toro Rosso in his first full season was an inspired decision, and a luxary no other team has on the grid. As valued as the services of such greats as Barrichello and co. are, the sports future is in its young stars after all.

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