Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber C31, Jerez, 2012

Which drivers will say farewell to F1 after Brazil?

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Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber C31, Jerez, 2012Michael Schumacher start his final F1 race in this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

It’s always a pity to see a career reach its end. But at least Schumacher knows about his impending retirement. Others who are unsure whether they will be back in an F1 car after Sunday.

A sad consequence of the way F1 works is that drivers’ careers sometimes come to an end without the fanfare they deserve.

F1’s longest-serving Rubens Barrichello started his final Grand Prix in his home race last year, but at the time it was yet to be confirmed that he wasn’t returning.

Similarly when Jarno Trulli started his 252nd Grand Prix in the same race he was expected to return for Caterham this year. But over the winter he lost his seat to Vitaly Petrov.

This year doubt has been cast on the future of several drivers’ places in their current teams. Some teams will be looking for a change, others will be coveting drivers who bring more lucrative sponsors – and one might be about to disappear entirely.

Kamui Kobayashi

Kobayashi made his F1 race debut at Interlagos in 2009. His performance there and in Abu Dhabi persuaded Peter Sauber to give him a seat at Sauber for 2010.

He stood on the podium for the first time in his home race at Suzuka last month but he may find himself out of a seat at Sauber. Nico Hulkenberg will join the team next year and GP2 driver Esteban Gutierrez is strongly tipped to join him.

Bruno Senna

Williams’ desire to give track time to test driver Valtteri Bottas has seen Senna give up 14 appearances in first practice so far this year while team mate Pastor Maldonado hasn’t missed any.

That hasn’t helped Senna’s efforts to cut the qualifying deficit to his team mate. Senna may be only 14 points behind Maldonado in the championship, but he has not run as close to the front of the field as often as Maldonado has.

That and the support Bottas enjoys within the team means Senna’s future looks uncertain.

Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, Buddh International Circuit, 2012Kovalainen has driven well for Caterham this year, much as he has done for the same team in the previous two seasons.

Even so, there have been rumours about his future, connected to the team’s potential loss of tenth place in the constructors’ championship to Marussia and the significant loss of income they may suffer as a result.

Asked about the situation in India, Kovalainen said: “Nothing’s been signed for next [year] for myself yet.”

“Personally, my target and my focus is at each race weekend for our team it?s quite important that we try to regain that tenth position back from Marussia. It?s not going to be easy but I think we have to do whatever it takes to be in a position to do that if a freak race happens again.

“So, the main focus is on that and regarding the future with the team and with Tony, we haven?t decided yet. I think Tony knows what he gets with me but then he?s evaluating other options I think to see what he wants to do. And I?m waiting.

“In the meantime, of course, my management is also working. There?s nothing really to report but the main thing I think for myself and really for our team has to be to keep pushing to get that tenth position back, it?s quite crucial.”

Charles Pic

Pic’s two predecessors at Marussia (formerly Virgin) both lost their seats after single seasons. Last year Pic was announced as the replacement for Jerome D’Ambrosio barely three hours after the chequered flag fell on the season finale.

Max Chilton has been tipped as a potential replacement for Pic having driven for the team at the young drivers’ test and in first practice at Abu Dhabi. He is backed by insurance firm Aon: his father is a board member and they also back his brother Tom’s team in the World Touring Car Championship.

Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan

De la Rosa has a contract to drive for HRT next year but after the team was put up for sale will it even be on the grid?

Given that, doubts have to be raised whether he or Narain Karthikeyan will be race again in F1 after this weekend.

Over to you

At present 14 of the 24 seats potentially available for next year have been filled:

Which drivers do you think will not be returning after this weekend’s race? And who will arrive to take their places? Have your say in the comments.

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Image ?? Sauber F1 Team, Caterham/LAT

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Keith Collantine
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147 comments on “Which drivers will say farewell to F1 after Brazil?”

  1. I hate to say it but I don’t think Heikki weill be here next year.

    1. Yep, sad for Heikki (drives better than ever), sad for Kamui (no Japanese driver next year if so), sad for Bruno (Brazilian drivers get rarer), sad for HRT (the whole team). The only good thing is that Pic is likely to stay in F1 thanks to his driving ability and ‘his’ (LVMH) financial backing. So, 6 farewell this weekend?!

      1. Yeah, the brazilians are getting rarer, but I have high hopes in Razia and Nasr(2014)

    2. That would be a sad loss. He’s good enough to be in a better car. OK he didn’t cover himself in glory at McLaren earlier in his career but you can’t help thinking Force India or Sauber could do with having his abilities.

      As for the rest. I’ll definitely miss Kobayashi if Sauber go with Gutierrez. But Pic and Senna can fade away into obscurity for all I care.

    3. I have the same feeling. Last year Caterham (then Lotus) offered him a multiple year deal (two or three), but Heikki only wanted a single season (to keep his options open for 2013). And before Singapore, the contract was apparently ready between him and the team, but two things happened: Heikki’s manager/management team managed to make Tony Fernandez angry and the team lost it’s 10th place in the standings.

      According to confirmed rumours, Heikki has also been in talks with at least Force India (and he was on their rather long short-list a while back) and possibly Sauber.

    4. If I remember Heiki didn´t do much beside Hamilton at Mclarean, so I fail to see why any top 4 team will want him…

  2. Charles Pic supposedly will be confirmed at Caterham this week, so…

    1. Yeah, but you’re just an Airmchair Expert.

      1. That ‘i’ in Airmchair..oops.

    2. William Brierty
      21st November 2012, 19:47

      I’ve hear stronger rumours that Valsecchi will be confirmed at Caterham next year. If so he’ll almost certainly partner Heikki, Caterham will soon realize that they require an experienced member, so that counts Pic out. Pic will probably end up with a reserve role.

  3. According to James Allen: “#f1 Colleagues in Spain telling me HRT HQ is closing, all staff have redundancy notices. Sounds like that’s it for them. 11 teams in 2013?”

    It’s looking increasingly bad for them, really. But, well, I guess no one thought they’d get this far, so they could surprise us again (by selling the team and saving it).

    1. @fer-no65
      I dont think it will be sold for 1 euro, nor that either team member would buy it. So a second “Brawn GP” is out of the question, but maybe someone who wants to jump in to F1 without all the negotiations with Bernie/FIA/Whiting/or who ever decides this… If I remember correctly, there was another team who wanted to join in 2010, and I remember something about Villeneuve collecting money for a F1 team a few years ago. So 12 teams are definetly possible.

      1. @bag0 To be honest, I don’t expect anyone to buy HRT. The fees have gone up, and looking at the other newer teams and how much they are struggling to battle the old teams (even with reasonably good development and interesting partnerships), no one with a bit of sense would spend money on something that will probably fail too.

        1. prodrive might.

        2. I am afraid you are right there @fer-no65, on the one hand giving the whole team redundancy notice can be part of making the deal more attractive to potential buyers (they can then rehire them without having to take former obligations on themselves). On the other hand there’s really not that much of HRT that has any worth. The buildings are rented and in a place where its hard to maintain F1 quality engineers. They have bee in the sport for 3 years now, but that counts for little, as they have never been inside the top 10 to earn some rights on money. And it will need a gigantic investment to even get a car done up for next year.

      2. Ferrari should buy it so that they have their own torro rosso that can slow down Ferrari’s competition when being lapped.

        1. They could call it Fiat. Or a Chrysler brand. Dodge would be appropriate, as that’s what one has to do when lapping one, according to Mr. Vettel.

      3. Villeneuve might have some trouble getting his backer on the phone, chap by the name of saad gaddafi.

      4. @fer-no65

        That team was Stefan GP. They bought the chassis, engine & gearbox from the Toyota team that pulled out the year before. They also signed Nakajima & Villeneuve with Maldonardo as reserve. They tried to enter the 2010 & 2011 championships but the FIA rejected both times.

        There are many reason floating around why they were never accepted but it’s a shame because it could have been a Brawn GP story because the rumor was that Toyota had a really good car for the 2010 season. Such a waste that it never got to even drive round a track in testing trim.

        If HRT is out then we really need at least another team in F1. I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t try & bring BMW or Toyota back for the 2014 season if the new engine rules go as planned or even VW under the Audi name.

        1. @bobby-balboa I guess that was a reply to @bag0

          By the way, I think StefanGP had nothing to do with Villeneuve. Villeneuve was behind another proyect…

        2. @bobby-balboa

          That team was Stefan GP. They bought the chassis, engine & gearbox from the Toyota team that pulled out the year before.

          You are helping a myth survive here Bobby.

          Stefan never bought anything from Toyota, nor did he sign any drivers. The FIA did not accept his entry because as a matter of fact he had neither the facilities, nor the capital to build them nor access to such finance. Stefan GP was a big bluff.

  4. I think Bottas will race alongside Maldonado at Williams next year, so unless Senna can use his sponsorships to get a seat at somewhere like Caterham, I don’t see him racing next year.

    I hope Kovalainen does race next year because I think he deserves to be in Formula One. He’s a good solid driver and I hope he (or Petrov) somehow get 12th or higher this weekend, if that 10th place in the constructors determines whether Kovalainen stays or not.

    As I’m a big fan of Kobayashi, I’m preying that he doesn’t lose his seat, especially to Gutierrez of all people. Perez has been the better driver at Sauber this year, but the gap between them isn’t that much. It certainly isn’t big enough to merit Perez going to McLaren and Kobayashi dropping out of Formula One altogether. I think that Sauber kind of don’t want to give Gutierrez a drive if they can help it, because I think they would have signed him up already if they really did. He’s certainly not ready for Formula One, and Kobayashi is a better option every day of the week.

    With Pic, I really have no idea what will happen with him. For de la Rosa and Karthikeyan, de la Rosa will be at HRT next year if the team is there. As for Karthikeyan, he already surprised me with his returns last year and this year, so I’m not going to be surprised if HRT keep him next year. He isn’t really a bad driver, he’s okay in my opinion.

    1. Why so anti Gutierrez? Kobayashi has underwhelmed during his time in F1 save for a number of reckless passes, Gutierrez however although he didn’t live up to expectations in GP2 this year still has a far better record than a vast number of previous graduates

      1. Gutierrez however although he didn’t live up to expectations in GP2 this year still has a far better record than a vast number of previous graduates

        That doesn’t mean he deserves a drive. The level of talent in GP2 this year was possibly the lowest ever in the short history of the series. Gutierrez really should have won or come close to the title, instead he struggled to beat his team mate. He didn’t show much of himself at the young drivers test and FP1 in India either.

        Kobayashi has been inconsistent this year, but he’s delivered many great results for Sauber. I think he’s a solid driver who deserves to be in Formula One, and considering his popularity, he would be a big loss to the sport.

    2. I dont think there has been a gap between Perez and Kobayashi to suggest one has been better than other. They have been closely matched more often than not, and Kamui is ahead on the quali head to heads. I rate both of them, and both deserve to stay in F1. It is obvious that Perez’ 3 podiums this year has been noticed by the paddock, but you have to admit that a large part of that success was down to perfect strategy from Sauber. Kamui could have some good results as well, but thing didnt go his way when he did have the pace. I agree that there isnt enough of a justification for Perez to go to Mclaren and Kamui to drop out.

      But then again, this is the fickle nature of sport in general. In the case, its all about funding.

      It would be great to see somebody buy out HRT. Its sad to see people who race for the passion of racing leave the sport.

  5. No mention of Petrov in this article? General consensus seems to be that Pic will go to Caterham, which would put Vitaly out of a seat & I can’t think of anyone who would take him. Supposedly out of cash too

    1. Υeah, I was sure to see him.

    2. @ryanwilliams – Petrov has been beating Kovalainen a lot of late, and Kovalainen has admitted that this could be his final season in Formula 1. Meanwhile, Petrov’s manager says he has agreed in principle to a contract for next year, but his Caterham contract prevents him from physically signing anything until after the Brazilian Grand Prix. I have heard that he could go to Williams alongside Bottas, with Maldonado replacing Grosjean at Lotus.

      1. Perfect move for Lotus. In my opinion.

        1. The question is then where Grosjean would go then. It woudn’t be Caterham, because I’ve heard that Total are pushing for Pic to take a seat there, paving the way for PDVSA to sponsor Lotus. It looks like Grosjean would be out of a drive, then.

          1. @prisoner-monkeys – i really dont understand what good would be of Maldanado over Grosjean in Lotus. Both are in the same league.Fast,young but Error prone

          2. It depends on what the sponsors want. I’ve heard Total want to back Charles Pic, so Grosjean will need to find a sponsor to keep his seat.

          3. That would be sad. Yes, I have been wondering as to why there has been no announcement regarding Grosjean at Lotus since it was expected that his contract will be extended (and I think he deserves it). It’s time for the finale and still no announcement from the team means they are looking at other options which will be sad.

          4. @prisoner-monkeys I don´t think Boullier would have said this is Grosjean were on his way out:

            But team boss Boullier told French-language f1i.com: “We believe in him.

            “For us he is a long-term project and we consider him to be similar to (what McLaren did with) Lewis Hamilton.

            “He has shown he is able to do superb racing, but then of course there were some errors that sometimes cost him very dearly.

            “More recently he has been a bit more cautious and has been building up again, but I am sure that in 2013 we will see the real Romain,” he added.


      2. Maldonado to Lotus? WOw.

  6. I’m hoping a top driver grabs that Vacant Force India seat. $50m infusion…the Hulk might be kicking himself right now.

    That being said, who available should fill it? Hopefully not Senna, they already have a driver who merely decent; Di Resta. they need someone who is quick and inspiring, except those who might fill the seat are a bit young. De costa, Nasr, and Frijns would be great but theyre so young. They have Bianchi, but he does not impress me anymore, too many years as a “young driver.” same with Valsecchi. Both of those guys are destined for the dust-bin to me. 5 years of GP2 for Valsecchi….and Bianchi is a sore loser who has spent 3 years or so testing for teams with no race seat. bleh.

    1. I’ve decided it should be Felipe Nasr in the Force India seat.

      1. William Brierty
        21st November 2012, 19:57

        What?!!!!!! Nasr was a joke this year in GP2! Granted, he was a rookie, but he is waaaaaaay too inexperienced to even get close to an F1 seat. Valsecchi will almost certainly turn up at Caterham alongside Kovalainen, and that leaves Bianchi alongside Di Resta, which I think would be a good line-up. Frijns will probably land a Sauber reserve role and probably compete, and dominate, in GP2 next year, ready to replace Gutierrez for 2014; who will really struggle next to the Hulk next year.

        1. I find it funny that you are so insistent that Valsecchi will race for Caterham given that it is the first time I’ve heard anything about it and most sources seem to believe that the team’s line up with feature Charles Pic and/or Giedo van der Garde next year.

    2. @d3v0 – I’ve heard that Senna approached Force India with over ten million dollars in sponsorship, but the team were “unconvinced” by his performances this year.

  7. I think F1’s average age will come down drastically next year as the three oldies will not be seen – Pedro, Michael and Narain.

    I tend to believe the rumors that HRT will not be seen unless bought by someone else. And if someone else is buying it, expect some unexpected faces (those with more money than driving skill) in those cars.

    I have my doubts about Force India as well. Nothing is well with Mallya and Mr. Roy also has a lot of mess. Add Paul Di Resta’s strange message on radio at Austin, I think something is definitely up.

    And if four seats disappear, I don’t think any new face other than Bottas and Esteban will come.

    Summary – Outgoing drivers – Michael, Narain, Pedro, Senna, Kobayashi, Heikki or Paul di Resta.
    Incoming drivers – Bottas and Esteban

  8. It’s just so frustrating and annoying, that drivers like those mentioned above, will most possibly lose their seats.
    Kovalainen developed himself into a real solid driver, but unfortunately his skills are almost invisible at the back of the pack.
    Kobayashi is one of, if not the best driver when it comes to driving in traffic, and overtaking cleanly (I know that he made a few mistakes this year, but still).
    Senna proved to be quite constant, but he should be faster. The point scoring finishes are impressive, but the many 9th and 10th positions aren’t, as it looks, that the car could perform better. If Maldonados speed and Sennas consistency could be united in a single driver, well, that would be a jackpot for Sir Frank. I guess, although the money he brings in, he will have to leave Williams, but a 4th different team in his 4th season looks still possible for him, somewhere…
    Pic looked strong in some races, but compared to Glock, and especially compared to di Grassi and d’Ambrosio he didn’t do anything special. If he has the money, he will find a seat, maybe at Caterham, as you mentioned, but I would not miss him too much (sorry, if it sounds a bit harsh).
    de la Rosa is an average driver, but an excellent car developer with tremendous experience, however, the financial situation of HRT could make him easily sidelined despite the fact, that he has a contract for 2013 as well.
    Karthikeyan had his time, he was promising in 2005, now he is just sitting in for his money, which also could grant him the seat.

    So, back to the frustration. Kovalainen and Kobayashi definetley deserves a seat, but let’s just not forget about the losses of the last year. We don’t have Sutil, Alguersuari and Heidfeld (yea, I know you don’t miss him, well, I do) anymore, although they raced fine. But if it’s all about the money…

    1. What did Karthikeyan do in 2005 that was promising

      1. 4th in the United States grand prix ;)

        1. yeah he beat 2 Minardis. Class driver ….

          1. He also beat the Mclaren’s, Renault’s, Williams’ and any other team on Michelin tyres with an inferior Jordan. What a driver, indeed.

  9. I dont think Grosjean can consider himself safe just yet. I realse that Eric Boulier is both his manager and the team principal. Given that fact, I’m amazed that he hasnt been retained for next season yet. In all likeliness, he will be, but why hasnt it been confirmed sooner? Maybe all of his collisions this year have seriously annoyed the team? Perhaps Lotus will sign Kovalainen, to reaffirm their link with Angry Birds, and give the team a pretty quick line up. Or maybe they’ll gamble with someone else. Senna again maybe? He brings money to the table.

    Force India look to be in troubled waters. Mallaya has said he’s going to put a pile of money into the team, but where is this money coming from? His alcohol businesses (and also team sponsers) are in deep trouble financially, and are being bought out by rivals. His airline is heading down the pan too. I think I read on Joe Saward’s blog that it could even be forced to cease trading soon and its license revoked? Sahara, the other stake holder in the team, are in a spot of bother too apparantly. On that basis, unless a buyer/investor is found for the team, they could be in trouble too, and perhaps Paul di Resta might find himself without a seat. However, assuming that money is somehow magically pulled out a hat somewhere, I still think Di Resta is far from safe. Why hasnt he been confirmed yet?

    Sadly, I do think that Senna will be shown the door at Williams. I think he is as every bit as good as Maldonado, but he unfortunately has been compromised by the team running Valterri Bottas exclusively in his car. Given that the difference between Senna and Maldonado is only 14 points, I’d say that is a remarkable achievement given the circumstances.

    Catherham, it’s safe to say that Petrov is out, given that he hasnt any money to bring to the table. For the same reason, Heikki is probably out – unless he can do something special in Brazil (even with weather giving him a hand). The team could do with keeping him on, he’s carried the team to where it is today, but F1 doesnt run on sentiment.

    Marussia, Glock has secured his seat after that 12th in Singapore, although one has to wonder how much more he can tollerate pedalling that Marussia around. Pic has done pretty good this year, and could probably be there next year. It just depends how much Max Chilton’s father has to say about that, in terms of money that he can persuade Aon to give.

    HRT – anybodys guess. I reckon someone will buy them out, but I doubt that the drivers will be here next year. Pedro is no spring chicken and despite his excellent car setup ability, I doubt they’ll take him on. Karthikeyan… well, I think he’ll leave the sport with the very unfortuante recover of being the lowest classified driver ever in a race.

    1. Maldonado has been much more impressive than Senna this year, he might have had brain fade on multiple occasions but he has been so much faster than Senna. Without accidents or reliability issues when he was in decent positions in the top 6 he would have a lot more points. Senna on the other hand has at no point looked like troubling the frontrunners which Maldonado has done on several occasions. I am starting to come round to the idea that Senna is in Formula One primarily because of his surname, that Williams is a decent car and he should have extracted more pace from it.

      1. Maldonado was in his second year with the team, so he should have had more consistency in races and a lot more points. Bruno was only in his first year in the team and also had the disadvantage of losing 14 FP1, but he could have done better if it wasn’t for his problems with 2012 tyres, the same problem that also hurt Jenson Button. As it was his season was badly compromised by poor qualifying and consequently much less points than he was capable to collect had he started higher up for the races. It’s hard to judge what lost him more points, but losing FP1 was certainly costly both to him and to the team.

        I’m sure that in 2013 he can recover the qualifying form of 2011 (4 times in Q3), as tyres will be different and he won’t accept to lose any FP1 anymore. Then he will be able to win races if he has a really good car.

      2. He keeps it on the track and doesnt cause trouble. He also makes it past the first lap. If it wasnt for Venezualan cash, Maldonado would more likely be dropped IMO. If you take away Maldonado’s win, what has he got?

        1. Excellent qualifying results and race pace?

          1. crashes into Perez and Hamilton which boarded on a crazy person on a normal road

        2. Andréas Kühne
          22nd November 2012, 19:25

          An error prone driver and a hazard. His overtaking are always very risky. He even almost managed to crash into Senna in the USGP. When both Maldonado and Grossjean are among the top ten after qualifying, there will probably be a crash around turn one.

          Senna is the more skilled of the two and Maldonado is the risk taker.

    2. “Heikki is probably out – unless he can do something special in Brazil (even with weather giving him a hand). The team could do with keeping him on, he’s carried the team to where it is today, but F1 doesnt run on sentiment.”

      And exactly where is that? At the back of the pack, seriously struggling to keep ahead of Marussia. When Marussia gets KERS next year they will be ahead of them.

      To sum it up: Kovalainen is matched by paydriver Petrov on race pace and has contributed nothing worthwhile with all his expericience to get the team further up the grid. On top of that, now that he is under pressure, he starts making errors (spinning in qualifying etc.). Very unimpressive imho. He wont be missed by me. I hope Caterham makes a wise decision. Pic should reconsider his move also, if its not already a done deal.

      I suggest Caterham picks two paydrivers out of these three: Van der Garde, Pic, Senna (who I think will be told to leave Williams to be replaced by an overhyped Bottas). All three are good enough to drive there and all bring some nice money too.

      1. @sutil2013 – There’s two ways of looking at that: either Petrov is better than first expected, or Kovalainen is worse than first expected.

        1. Yes. Trulli’s inability to drive the Team Lotus car without tailor made power steering made Kovalainen look much faster than he maybe was. Petrov was relativly fast at Renault but made rookie errors. Now Petrov is settled in the Catterham team and has more experience he is starting to challenge Heikki. Neither are top drivers though. Put Hamilton and Kovalainen in the same car again and the difference would be the same as in 2008.

  10. One can dream, right?

    How about HRT being bought out, or infused with that Chinese money + Chinese driver?

    Mallya with his last ditch effort in SFI? Bring Heikki :P

    Move Kobayashi to Williams and let Pic keep his seat.

    Bring in the new drivers in 2014!

    I can dream, right? :P

  11. I´m not expecting big changes in the field.
    It will be so unfair if Heikki doesn´t get a seat for next year, though it seems that way.
    Koba seemed pretty confident about his prospects for 2013 and between lines it seemed to me as he has his future sorted out.
    I think Petrov will have a third driver role next year and return in 2014 because of the Sochi GP.
    So I´m guessing:
    HRT – doors closed
    Marussia – Glock and Chilton
    Caterham – Senna and Pic
    Sauber – Gutierrez and Hulk
    Force India – Di Resta and Kobayashi
    Williams – Bottas and Pastor

    Alguersuari sweared that he had a seat for 2013 I just don´t see where?!

    1. You missed Toro Rosso.

      1. Zephyr
        Toro Rosso has already confirmed JEV and Ricciardo for 2013.

    2. I think its more likely we will see Alguersuari in the FI than Kobayashi really. Its a shame that Kamui finds himself out of options like this.

      I guess the fact that Hulk got into Sauber means that Ferrari won’t be pushing for Bianchi to drive the FI now.

    3. maybe at force india, alguersuari, but i think the rest of the predictions are acurate and really good

  12. marussia , caterham and HRT have not closed in on the midfield at all…. Why not have a single competitive F1 team rather than 3 poor teams …booring to watch

    1. I think Caterham have the greatest chance of breaking into the midfield and Marussia are looking fairly decent also. HRT however are highly unlikely to ever make it out of Q1 and it is looking increasingly likely that they will be off the back row of the grid fairly soon – when the team goes bankrupt.

    2. They couldnt really have joined at a worse time. The established teams had already got on top of the regulations from 2009 and the established teams agreed to a RRA (which is just an agreement at the end of the day…) rather than a budget cap. They also used Cosworth engines in the first year, who had not been in the sport for a few years until then, and they werent great engine in 2010 (or are they now really…).

      I’d say 2014 would be the best opportunity for Marussia and Catherham (and HRT/whoever buys them) to close the gap. I’m sure they’ve probably put a lot aside to build a decent car for then, as the rules from this year to next arent changing a great deal.

      1. But the problem is Cosworth haven’t mentioned whether they’re developing a 2014-spec engine. Assuming PURE never actually happens (I don’t think they’ve actually completed much actual hardware), what are they going to use?

        Granted, they could just use customer engines from Mercedes, Ferrari or Renault (especially as the engine cost is capped) but I don’t see any of them having the capacity to support further teams, despite Renault’s assurances.

  13. I fully expect Senna to be kicked out of Williams for Bottas; whether he will get a seat elsewhere I don’t know. As much as his consistency is mentioned and how he has scored much more frequently than Maldonado I just haven’t been impressed by him, whereas I have by Maldonado.

    1. Yes, but in race pace Senna is as fast as Maldonado and often even faster. If he didn’t lose any FP1 he probably would have qualified better and consequently he would have much better results. With 2013 tyres and as much practice time as his rivals I’m sure he can be a frontrunner if he has a goos car, at least as much as Maldonado.

      1. I agree, but I simply haven’t been impressed by him. For example, Maldonado out-qualified Vettel in Singapore after Vettel was fully expected to take pole. In qualifying at least Maldonado is astonishingly good and I can’t help but think if he’d just been given a quick enough car for pole position he could be as dominant as Vettel.

        1. Yes, in qualifying Maldonado even reminds me Ayrton Senna. I think he is maybe as fast as a Vettel or a Hamilton in a single lap. In Spa he was also superb, beating Raikkonen’s Lotus with an inferior Williams. I think it is more a mental thing, also Prost was never as quick as Ayrton, or Jenson as quick as Lewis.

          1. Really? Because it’s not as though Maldonado blew away Barichello in qualy last year (admittedly, Maldonado’s first season). I think a more rational explanation is that this year’s Williams is a rocket, Maldonado is a reasonably quick driver, and Bruno is just slow. A lovely guy, as they all are, but simply no match for his team mate.

          2. Agreed – wouldn’t you think that Alonso in this year’s Williams could very well still be fighting for the championship or even already sewn it up? I really do think the car’s been that good. Maldonado certainly looks supreme in qualifying but his resume didn’t really indicate such incredible raw pace.

          3. Simply no match for his team mate losing 14 FP1 in his first season with the team, while Pastor is in his second. But I agree Pastor may always be a little bit quicker in a single lap, just like Hamilton was always a little bit quicker than Button. That doesn’t mean Button is a slow driver, as in races he can be as quick as Hamilton many times. Senna is also as quick as Maldonado in races, sometimes even quicker.

            Williams is not a winning car, as it could only fight for a podium here and there, with many highs and lows, just like Sauber. Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Lotus are competitive almost everywhere and much better than the Williams, as they are real rockets even in qualifying, while Williams’ s DRS is no match even for a Sauber and a Force India.

          4. @gitanes – the Williams has been a quick car (definetly quicker than their lowly 8th in the constructors’ suggests) but over the course of the season the Ferrari has been a faster car. I doubt Alonso would still have been a championship contender had he been driving the FW34: I think in actual fact Vettel would’ve wrapped up the championship by now. Sure though, the Williams is a vastly improved car over last years.

        2. You’re kidding, right? I’m no great fan of Vettel, but he’s at least a clean driver. Maldonado may be quick over a single lap, but from what I’ve seen this season, he’s still a clumsy racer.

          1. @leucocrystal – I am a fan of Vettel yet I concede that originally he too wasn’t very good in traffic. With practice though he has managed to improve his race craft vastly and is now making impressive, clean overtakes like the one on Alonso in Monza ’11.

            I honestly think Maldondo is unfairly treated: he is a quick driver and he has kept his nose clean in the last few races. Sure, at the start of the season he was calamatous (I think he’s actually set the record for the most penalties reieved in a season!) but he has been much better as of late. All he needs is more time and I think he can mature into a pretty good racer just as Vettel did.

          2. @vettel1 Maybe so, maybe not. I still see his approaches even to fairly simple corners as late and quite clumsy on the apex (he tends to turn in late and sharply, which is good for warming tires in quali, not so good for racing cleanly and not having to fight the car so much), but that may be a matter of taste in driving style, I’m not sure. (Also, I’m no fan of Vettel’s continued fondness of chopping across an opponent’s nose, often a bit earlier than would be considered wise, but again, maybe that’s just me.)

    2. Word in the streets (in Brazil) say the same. Senna will be out. As of late, Brazilian media is putting some effort in inflating Razia’s profile and everybody expects him to drive an F1 sooner than later.

  14. A few months ago people were tipping Kovalainen for a Ferrari seat, now we’re facing the prospect of him entering his final grand prix weekend, i would think it would be crazy for Caterham not to resign him, to me this roumer comes as a massive surprise I can’t get my head round it but maybe I’m missing something or maybe he’s missing something they need more than talent.

    As for Kobayashi and Bruno Senna they have been largely anonymous this year and that’s the worst thing to be, it’s better to be contraversial and crashing into everything (Grosjean, Maldonado) than be simply anonymous, you have got to fight tooth and nail to gain headlines. Yes they are top drivers but in a field of top drivers you have got to do special to stand out, something which these two and with respect the two toro Rosso drivers have seldom managed but fortunately for them toro Rosso give their drivers two years so they have another chance to shine.

    Charles Pic to Caterham? This seems..for want of a better word..random..

    As for HRT, best of luck guys. If they do make it next year I hope they give Ma a chance, i think he would appreciate it more than anybody else and it would be good for the Chinese Grand Prix attendance too.

    1. I definitely still believe Heikki is a way better option than Massa at Ferrari, but I think you’re right — there must be something else teams are looking for besides talent!

      If Caterham doesn’t sign him, they’re hopelessly dumb.

    2. A few months ago pretty much anyone who was out of contract in 2013 was linked to a Ferrari seat. I highly doubt it was ever serious, and probably just an Internet rumor started by the copy & paste F1 “news” sites. That’s the trouble with Internet, news has just gotten increasingly more unreliable :(

  15. I think Senna wont be in F1 next year which is a great same considering his consistency this season over Maldonado.

    1. @colm – It’s easier to teach a faster driver like Maldonado to be consistent than it is to teach a consistent driver like Senna to be fast.

      1. @prisoner-monkeys – I agree. If we are talking of potential Maldonado has much more than Senna. After all, there is no point being consistently slower than your teammate.

        1. And it’s not like this is the first time Senna has been upstaged by his tem-mate. Vitaly Petrov had the measure of him for the eight races they hd together last year, while Karun Chandhok occasionally out-raced him in 2010 (though it’s a little hard to tell, because the car was so poor that they actually only finished three races together before Chandhok was replaced).

          At the end of the day, Senna just isn’t a particularly good driver. If he wasn’t a Senna – if his name was Bruno Jones or some such – he probably wouldn’t have even gotten the Williams seat this year. People keep claiming that he missed a large, critical development period when he quit racing in the wake of his uncle’s death, or that he’s been missing out on too many free practice sessions to really show his mettle, or they keep pointing out Ayton’s quote about how Bruno was even better than him, but none of those really count for anything when Senna hasn’t been performing.

          1. Yes, if it wasn’t the name and sponsorship he probably wouldn’ t have been in Williams this year. But he would have entered F1 on merit in 2009, as he had better results in junior categories than a guy like Damon Hill. Honda’s withdrawal and lack of more testing opportunities meant he lost the Brawn drive and his career suffered a major blow as a consequence.

            Another thing: when you say it is hard to teach a consistent driver to be fast you are right. But you forget Bruno was fast enough in qualifying in 2011, as he put the Lotus in Q3 four times. So he has the speed, he just needs a second proper season, this time with FP1 for himself, to reduce the gap to Maldonado. If he didn’t believe that then maybe he wouldn’t be trying to find a good seat for 2013, as qualifying is crucial, even more with such a level playing field.

  16. Probably the end of the line for Pedalo, Narain and HRT.

    Any of the other four could be absent at the beginning of 2013. Even all of them, but it’d be harsh, and shouldn’t be the last F1 sees of them.

    Senna’s raced well in the last 3 GPs – but 7th or 8th is the best he’ll ever do, and Williams are in a position to aim higher than that. I suspect Caterham will feature van der Garde plus one current driver, probably Petrov. It would be tough on Pic, and Max and Daddy Chilton should think hard about taking the Marussia plunge – they may be getting into F1, but it won’t get them far into F1…

    Toyota won’t believe their luck if Kobayashi becomes available, and the World Endurance Championship would welcome the dropouts with open arms, although it may be awkward fitting them all in before Porsche (& maybe others) join in 2014 – so maybe just an extra car at Le Mans, as Buemi did this year.

    All these guys should be prepared to fly off to any Grand Prix at a moment’s notice, with helmet and racing seat, and seize any chance a bit better than Jerome d’Ambrosio did at Monza. And with all these pay-drivers muppeting around in the races, maybe there’ll be more race bans and opportunities. Particularly if FIA bring in penalty points and reprimands for piddling offences like turning up late or not being on-message at press conferences, as reported last week.

    Williams will need a new third driver. And Sauber, maybe Force India and Ferrari too. A year out’s not the end of the world – Alonso, Hakkinen, Massa and Hulkenberg have all done it. Maybe two years right away from F1’s even better, if Kimi is anything to go by…

    1. “Senna’s raced well in the last 3 GPs – but 7th or 8th is the best he’ll ever do, and Williams are in a position to aim higher than that.”

      Give Senna the same practice time as his rivals and he will be a frontrunner again, as he was in GP2. Furthermore Maldonado was (this year) in his second year with the team and in a second year with Williams Senna also can do much better in terms of raw pace. Also 2013 tyres will suit him better, as they won’t have such a slim performance window as those of this year, with the result that even a World Champion in his 13th year in F1 (Button) could only score 7 points in 6 races of the first half of the year, just because he couldn’ t warm enough his tyres in qualifying.

      So, there’s no reason Senna can’t recover the qualifying form of 2011 (when he put the Lotus in Q3 4 times) and become a complete F1 driver, capable of wins if a has really good car, as in races he is already as fast as almost anyone and certainly as fast as his current team mate.

      1. Give Senna the same practice time as his rivals and he will be a frontrunner again, as he was in GP2.

        Right. Like that’s the only thing that’s holding him back from performing on par with his team mate, at least…and like F1 is in any way similar to GP2…

        1. No, it’s not the only thing but with FP1 for him he can reduce the gap to Maldonado and 2013 tyres will also help him. Already in GP2 we could see Maldonado should have a little edge on him in qualifying (I remember Spain and Monaco 2008) but Senna was definitely better and more complete. However the Venezuelan could develop more these last few years with proper seasons (2009 and 2010 in GP2, 2011 in F1) while Senna had only this year to have a proper season in racing and even so not in equal terms, with almost half of the time his rivals had in free practice.

          So, I think Senna can improve a lot in 2013 if he stays with a midfield team.

          1. Everything should help Senna perform every single season…and yet…he never does raise up to the expectations. Don’t you find that a little bit peculiar?

      2. You keep saying this and it’s simply nonsense. He has never performed to a high standard and he’s had plenty of time.

        1. He has done at least has good in this year and a half (with Lotus and Williams) as Button did in 2000 and 2001 with better conditions, as Bruno entered only in the 12th GP last year and lost already 14 FP1 this year.

          We should compare what is fair, some people forget drivers like Button or Rosberg haven’t done any better in their former years in F1 and only won in their 7th year, while Bruno Senna is only in his 1st proper year.

          People also tend to forget Bruno Senna had better results than Damon Hill (another driver with a famous surname and a similar career path in junior categories) and showed more talent before F1, needing only 4 years in racing while Hill needed a decade (1982 to 1992) to get to F1. I have no doubt that B. Senna would do at least as good (and probably even better) than Hill did in F1 if he had the same conditions Hill had in his time (almost unlimited testing and a car that was by far the class of the field).

          Had Bruno Senna got the Brawn drive, as he deserved, he probably would have won races in his rookie year and surely he would be a much better driver by now, much more developed. However he can still recover the ground he lost these last few years (due to the effects of global crisis, with Honda’s withdrawal, etc.) if he is given a second proper season.

          1. +1. Without the economic crisis Bruno’s career would likely be much different.

            Hill would never have survived his early years in today’s F1. Even Hakkinen might have had the same problems that Kovalianen is having now

          2. Are serious? and the guy below. Comparing Hill and Hakkinen to Bruno Senna.

            Do you remember who they were driving against and what kind of team-mates they had?

            I know Bruno had it tough, but he is not even near Hill or Hakkinen.

          3. @Kimi4WDC I wasn’t comparing them. I was only saying that the driver market in F1 is so tough now, a driver cannot afford to have a slow start to their career. They need to impress almost instantly or bring in a load of cash or they are gone. Hill did nothing in F3000 had one shocking season for Brabham and then finds himself driving the championship winning car the next season, would that kind of thing happen today?

            Also you can kind of compare Hakkinen to Bruno Senna in that they both were test drivers of a top team. Hakkinen replacing Andreti midseason at Mclaren and Senna replacing Heidfeld at Renault. The difference being Hakkinen had done tons of testing and was able to impress straight out of the box, While Senna had to learn the car in races under everyones eyes.

          4. Damon Hill has never been a great driver, while Mika Hakkinen has really been great. So, I would never compare B. Senna to a driver that beat Ayrton Senna in qualifying the very first time he had a race with McLaren, even if he entered with a lot of testing. But I can compare him (Bruno) with a driver that took 10 years to get to F1 (while Bruno took only 4 in junior categories) and took more than 1,5 second the very first time he qualified alongside Ayrton Senna, a newcomer to the Williams team, while Damon was already there for a year of racing and even more as a tester. I sincerely believe almost any driver of the current F1 grid could have done more or less the same Damon Hill did in his time if they had the same conditions – almost unlimited testing and driving a car that was by far the class of the field. Had Ayrton not died I doubt Hill would have won any more races on merit that those he won in 1993. As it was Hill had the advantage of the best car until late 1996, and took advantage of FIA help in 1994 and a rookie as a team mate in 1996 (and even so he was champion only in the last race). He was a good/average driver and in no way we compare him to a Mika Hakkinen.

  17. Someone said Capsicum Motorsport is involved with Marussia so this kind of points to Max Chilton replacing Pic, however I think Pic will find sanctuary elsewhere (Caterham?). Speaking of which, either one or both of the Caterham drivers don’t look safe, I’m expecting a Van Der Garde / Pic lineup there next season for budget reasons. I would also suspect Senna hasn’t done enough to retain his seat.

  18. Sutil should come back next season. Very underestimated driver.

      1. I know. It does not sound very much like a certainty, but he knows what he gets. A rock solid driver that can sometimes perform miracles (in Monaco or in the wet). I would sign him right away.

        Im a bit worried though that Mallya will put that French crash kid, Bianchi, in the car. Di Resta and Hulkenberg both followed the same path of friday testing to a race seat the next season.

        Btw, I dont really see why FI should hold on to Di Resta. He has no charisma whatsoever, drives pretty solidly every now and then, but was beaten by Sutil last year and is overclassed by Hulkenberg in the recent races. He can be missed imo.

        1. You mean he won’t be missed.

          IMO Di Resta has had an unlucky year. Force India like splitting the drivers race strategies and usually Paul ends up with the wrong one, and when he is on the right strategy it gets ruined by a safety car.

          1. Thats what I meant indeed. (No edit button)

            Last year they also split the strategies quite often. The fact that Paul mostly ends up with the alternative one is often the result of him being outqualified by his team mate. Also, I never saw him do anything really special.

  19. My bet is
    Staying: Heikki and Pic
    Leaving: Senna, Kobayashi, HRT (and its two drivers).

    It’s always sad to hear impending closure for a team, but HRT never really went anywhere. Still, you gotta feel sorry for such an underdog team. Hopefully both Caterham and Marussia can finally start fighting in the midfield in 2013. A more competitive grid would greatly compensate for a smaller amount of teams.

  20. from that list of drivers i think that kobayashi, and senna are the only ones that would be a lose for the sport the rest are interchangeable like Grosjean lol

  21. Kobayashi and Senna are one foot out the door if you ask me. Same for Petrov. Kamui will probably lose the seat to the Carlos Slim-backed Gutierrez, Senna to Bottas and Petrov to either Pic or Van Der Garde (I for one am hoping for the latter).

    Frankly I think Kovalainen will stay at Caterham. No matter what he says, he simply doesn’t have a better option. And neither does Fernandez. He’s the closest he can get to an uber-experienced driver. And with those prospects for an intensive partnership with Renault next season in sight, Heikki will stay at least for another season. Pic has a chance of sliding alongside him at Caterham unless Van Der Garde beats him to the seat, case in which, I reckon Pic will be gone as well, getting replaced with Chilton at Marussia.

    And that leaves the two HRT drivers. Now, to be honest, I think both drivers are already gone. HRT either gets sold to someone who will completely refurbish the team (incl. staff, drivers etc.) either it doesn’t and that means it’s the end of their motorsport adventure. I reckon De La Rosa could go back to McLaren as a test driver or perhaps take the same spot at Sauber alongside a very young Robin Frijns. Karthikeyan will probably try to have a go in IndyCar.

    The last big question mark is over the remaining Force India seat. Besides that it all looks quite clear to me.

  22. Bit surprised that you didn’t include Petrov in this Countdown to Doom, Keith. Surely his time has come as well.
    In truth, there’s two or three more current drivers that I’d say have reached their sell-by dates, but they’re being retained. Glock is one of them.

    1. @timothykatz

      Surely his time has come as well.

      In nineteen racesthis year, Petrov has out-qualified Kovalainen six times, including four times in the past six or seven races. In the sixteen races they have both finished, Petrov has out-raced Kovalainen in nine of them. He’s proven himself to be a much more even match for Kovalainen than Jarno Trulli ever was.

      1. You may well be right about their respective results. But as Kovalainen *is* included in this article and since Petrov is allegedly out of sponsorship money, I am still surprised that Petrov isn’t in the article as well.

        1. @timothykatz – According to his manager, Oksana Kossachenko, Petrov has agreed in principle to a deal for next year, but because of the eleventh hour nature of his Caterham deal this year, he can’t actually sign anything until after the Brazilian Grand Prix.

  23. Drivers that I wouldn´t miss much:
    – both HRT drivers
    – Glock (got beaten by a not very highly rated rookie)
    – Petrov (normal driver, only in F1 for his sponsorship)
    – Senna (normal driver, only in F1 for his sponsorship)
    – Webber (though I aprecciate a man that is not afraid to speak what he thinks)
    – Schumacher (the last 3 years Michael)

    1. Petrov and Senna were both second (and race winners) in GP2, so they got to F1 on merit and not only for their sponsorship. The difference was that the Russian had 2 proper seasons with a midfiled team while Senna had only this year and losing 14 FP1, hurting qualifying and results as a consequence. He can improve a lot if he he is given a second proper season.

      1. I partially agree with you they were GP2 winners (which for me doesn´t tell much, many have been and that doesn´t mean that they deserve to be with the best) and Senna was extremely prejudiced for not doing any FP1 (Austin is an example, he did FP1 and qualified easly and near his team mate) but the bottom line is that I don´t see them as race winners, they just don´t seem to have the skill to become great drivers.

        1. Bruno Senna’s career was affected even more by the time he lost without a proper development, after losing the 2009 Brawn drive. Anyway I think he can still recover and become a race winner if he stays in F1 (at least in a midfield team) for the years to come. I reckon I like Bruno and I really believe he has a lot more to offer that what he could show until now, but he needs a second proper season to prove it in a more convincingly way.

          Well, your name being Pedro Costa I guess we are both Portuguese, am I wrong? In autosport.pt I use a nickname (Senna_f1) and in any other blogs I use my own name.

          1. If Senna was as good a driver to cut it in Formula 1 as you suggest, then missing out on the Brawn seat would not have had any effect on his career.

            And I doubt he would have thrived at Brawn the way you seem to think he would have. Button was in a league of his own in the BGP-001 – but Barrichello wasn’t.

          2. The main problem was missing the Brawn seat too late, at a time there were no seats available in GP2. That and not having (at the time) the sponsorship teams asked young drivers to get following the effects of financial crisis (thus missing to enter in 2010 with an established team) damaged his career massively, as he couldn’t develop at the same rate of other young drivers. I never thought he would be a great driver, but he was good enough to have a solid and good F1 career had he started at the right time with the right car. He surely would be a much better driver by now, much more developed.

            At Brawn he would be at the peak of his confidence and motivation, at 25, coming from a season with wins in GP2 and learning from a good and experienced driver like Button, a guy with a similar driving style. So, if the Brawn BGP 001 suited so well to Button, I guess it would suit as well to Bruno.

  24. @keithcollantine keith how do you know hamilton will be car number 7 next year? seems like mercedes are presuming him as their no.1 (i know it doesnt really mean that…) rosberg must be surprised.

    1. @sato113 I haven’t said he is. I presume you’re referring to the 2013 F1 drivers page, where you’ll note the text says the numbers “will be determined” – i.e., they haven’t yet. Rosberg is listed as number eight because that’s what he drove this year.

      1. ah ok sorry should have checked! ;)

        1. @sato113 – And if anything, Mercedes are probably going to be given #9 and #10 next year, seeing as how they are fifth in the World Constructors Championship. They might even get stuck with #11 and #12 if Sauber catch them.

          1. Reading this

            They might even get stuck with #11 and #12

            @prisoner-monkeys, it suddenly makes sense why Mercedes have not been getting points lately. They promised Hamilton he will drive with the 1 on his car (but failed to mention it had a decimal in front!) :-)

      2. @keithcollantine And if I remember correctly Rosberg wanted to go for a higher no., not for asserting superiority but to get the advantage in qualifying if both he and Lewis go to Q3 and decide not to give a lap.

  25. RBR: Vettel, Webber
    McLaren: Perez, Button
    Ferrari: Alonso, Massa
    Lotus: Raikkonen, Grosjean
    Mercedes GP: Hamilton, Rosberg
    Sauber: Hülkenberg, Kovalainen
    Williams: Bottas, Maldonado
    Force India: Senna, Petrov
    Toro Rosso: Ricciardo, Vergne
    Caterham F1: Di Resta, Wickens
    Marussia: Pic, Glock
    HRT: Probably won’t be on the grid next year.

    1. @xjr15jaaag Er… what? Kovalainen to Sauber? Where will the money come from? And Senna and Petrov in Force India? Two guys who came up the ranks without competing in karts, in the same team? Di Resta to Caterham, and alongside…hmmm…Robert Wickens? When they can get easy money by signing their third driver, they’ll go for a guy with no money, who hasn’t competed in single-seaters for a year now?
      I hope you’re joking, ’cause if you are I’m ready to laugh too. If not well,……

      1. Hey, I’m allowed to dream aren’t I?

        1. @xjr15jaaag As long as that is all it is…

          1. You make it sound like an offence to believe differently to the masses.

    2. lol nice fantasy squad.

  26. I wonder if Formula One will celebrate Michael Schumacher in some fashion at the end of this weekends race. I wasn’t old enough to see Fangio, Farina or Ascari race. Didn’t see Moss either but was fortunate to see Jimmy Clark and pretty much everyone since then. We are living at the time when the greatest of them all is now ready to step aside and let this next generation of very good race car drivers scratch their own marks into the history books.

    To have seen MS from the beginning and now as the end nears makes me wonder how we as fans, the media as the teller of his tale and those who with keen interest have witnessed what this one man has accomplished during his time behind the wheel and how all of us should say thanks for all he has done for our sport. His records should stand the test of time. His accomplishments will forever be a marker on how to get the job done. His rivals know that he presented challenges that no one else ever had. Some got the best of MS too, but that was few and far between.

    I would love to see at the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix all who were still running stop at the start finish line off to the side and let Schumacher have one final parade lap alone so that those who were there, those watching at home and all of the teams collect themselves and wait for Schumacher to come back to the start finish one final time as a tribute to the man himself.

    I think it would be a great moment for Formula One and I am confident there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house. We are so fortunate to witness this guys career and to recognize him in this fashion could be the PR move of the year. Bernie loves the PR and this one could be an all timer….

    Thank you Michael

    1. Seeing as he’s already retired once I doubt they’ll lay it on too thick.

      1. (Tongue-in-cheek) I think the Interlagos guys want to stress on the word ‘final’ in that farewell, because they don’t want to bid him a third goodbye, it would be hard on their resources.
        P.S.: I am a Schumi fan.

    2. Ooh dear. I don’t really think so. Schumacher has also left a fairly bitter taste in the mouths of a few people and fans, so I don’t think there will be a sort of valedictory parade. Some people might rejoice along the lines of “Thank goodness he’s finally going”, and “Why did he ever come back anyway?”.
      One last thing; are you sure he was “ready to step aside”? I thought he got binned.

    3. I doubt they’ll do it but that would be brilliant to see.

  27. I’ll really be very sad if this will end up being Kobayashi’s last race. :(

  28. Kobayashi to Force India! Why not?

    1. At this stage, I would prefer he leave Sauber and join Lotus, Force India or Williams. I think he would do well with a change. We will find out the situation by Sunday as Sauber plan to announce their 2nd driver during the weekend.

  29. No, Petrov on this list..that is strange, although there is next to no chance he’ll start next season on the grid. It might not be a final farewell though because Oksana Kosachenko seemed certain that they would participate at the Russian GP in Sochi due in 2014. Vyborg ‘Rocket’ is probably taking a financial sabbatical.
    Kovalainen and Kobayashi are in big trouble. Pic is less so possibly because he has been in talks with another team, whereas the above two are trying to stay in their own teams next year.
    Thing is, Caterham want to go places next year, but how will dumping Heikki and replacing him with van der Garde help? The latter has taken several years to win a GP2 race and is a contemporary of Hamilton, so he’s not young either. And anyone can outperform Rodolfo Gonzalez, it doesn’t take a Herculean effort.
    Also, di Resta’s seat is yet to be confirmed and it gives me a feeling that his recent bitterness and under-performing streak is not just w.r.t. his teammate or the lost opportunity to sign for McLaren, I think that his seat is TBC as well.

    1. Oksana Kosachenko is one of the worst managers there is. If she actually did do some work instead of relying on their childhood connection, Vitaliy would have been enjoying PDSVA or Telmex like backing, and would be getting podiums as he already proved he can, instead he is in Caterham…..

      1. … I’m sorry, what?

        Why would PDVSA or Telmex want to sponsor a Russian driver? They’re from Venezuela and Mexico – they want Venezuelan and Mexican drivers.

        Petrov had the option of entering negotiations with Williams this year. But he chose not to, because the team was talking to Raikkonen, Sutil and Senna, and he didn’t want to get hung up on negotiating with them and neglecting other teams where he stood a better chance of joining up. If he had known that his only real competition for the seat was Bruno Senna, then he might have pushed harder – but since Renault didn’t let him go until they knew they had Raikkonen in the bag, he had very few options once he finally became a free agent and had to work with what he was given.

  30. In Austin I actually realized Senna isn’t a bad driver. He might not be one of the best and there are drivers outside F1 who are definitely better, but I don’t think he’s been so bad as to not have deserved this time in F1.
    Pic has been very good in his first year but that may not be enough; and at the same time we might have not seen the best of him so it should be easier to see him leave, and with Chilton in the pipelines it seems likely.
    Kobayashi should definitely stay but, although I’m sure Sauber would pick him over Gutierrez, or they’d’ve confirmed the Mexican a while ago, I fear they will be forced to drop him if he fails to bring sponsorship. It would be a pity, after his first podium this year, and considering he has contributed in making race more interesting during his career.
    I was sure Kovalainen would have beaten Petrov easily but that hasn’t been the case, and if Caterham were to drop one of the two it could likely be the Finn as I think the Russian has more money.
    I sincerely hope HRT can make it onto the 2013 grid but I fear for them and although they haven’t brought a significant improvement to F1 they have had two great liveries in the past two years. ;) I hope we’ll have 12 teams next year, if not with HRT I hope someone can buy it.
    And definitely I’ll miss Schumacher, though I missed him during these years as well as he wasn’t able of fighting with the front-runners.

    1. “In Austin I actually realized Senna isn’t a bad driver. He might not be one of the best and there are drivers outside F1 who are definitely better, but I don’t think he’s been so bad as to not have deserved this time in F1.”

      Bruno Senna had a lot more to offer to F1 had he started at the right time, the year after his last season in GP2. Had he started with Brawn he probably would have won races in his rookie year and he would be a much better driver by now, much more developed. In junior categories he showed more talent and had better results than a guy like Damon Hill, so he deserved more to race with Brawn in 2009 than Hill deserved to race with Williams in 1993.

      Anyway he can still find a good seat for 2013 and who knows if he can still recover the ground he lost these last few years? In races he is already as good as most of the grid and having FP1 to himself he can recover his 2011 qualifying form. If he stays with a midfield maybe he can still become a race winner in the years to come.

  31. My predictions for the unfilled/unconfirmed seats 2013:

    Williams – Maldonado + Bottas
    Force India – Di Resta + Alguesuari
    Caterham – Senna + Pic
    Marussia – Glock + Chilton
    Sauber – Guttierez
    Lotus – Grosjean
    HRT – Doubt they’ll be on the grid but if they are: De La Rosa + Ma

    I hope Kamui and Heikki get kept on but I doubt it’ll happen due to lack of funds and I also hope that Frijns picks up a test/reserve seat if not a race seat because he could be a very exciting prospect…

  32. It’s not looking good for Heikki :( You can blame Marussia for that I guess! Whilst on the subject of Marussia, I don’t have much faith in them retaining Pic. I like Pic, he seems like a trouble free driver and he competes well with Glock.

    I think Kobayashi will be safe. Sauber would do well to carry forward their performance this year with a known quantity.

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