Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Young Drivers' Test, Silverstone, 2013

Ricciardo deal sets 2014 driver market in motion

2014 F1 season

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Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Young Drivers' Test, Silverstone, 2013With Daniel Ricciardo’s move to Red Bull finally official, the first domino has toppled in the 2014 driver market.

The question now is how long a chain reaction is it going to set off, and who else will be occupying a new seat come the start of the 2014 F1 season.

No Red Bull for Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen is known to have been in the running for a Red Bull seat. He was associated with Red Bull during his brief spell in the World Rally Championship, so why did they pass up the chance form a stellar line-up of two world champions?

Chief technical officer Adrian Newey said: “We could have taken an experienced driver, somebody guaranteed to deliver to a relatively known level, or equally we could take on a much younger driver in the hope that they?ll develop to a very high level.”

“We looked at the latter option and concluded that of the younger drivers, Daniel is the most promising.”

Anyone who’s listened to Ricciardo’s lengthy, painstaking debriefs on the Toro Rosso team radio during practice sessions will know his technical feedback is of a high standard. Red Bull have had many chances to evaluate Ricciardo since his first test for the team in 2009 and this key strength of his likely to be one Newey values highly, especially with a major change in the technical rules coming into force next year.

And Newey, who previously worked with Raikkonen at McLaren, is well-placed to know testing is not an activity the 2007 world champion relishes.

No doubt other factors will have figured: Ricciardo will have been cheaper to hire and easier to sign to a long-term contract. As Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost admitted, his hiring “vindicates” the company’s investment in a driver development programme which is far greater in scope than anything their rivals undertake.

And then there is the question of Vettel’s say in the matter. Christian Horner has previously said Vettel would not dictate his choice of team mate. However reports in the German press claimed Vettel indicated a preference for Ricciardo.

Where now for Raikkonen?

Kimi Raikkonen, GP3, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013In the view of at least one rival team principal, Raikkonen is looking for a way out of Lotus.

The team lack the resources of their bigger rivals – their budget is estimated to be little more than half that of Ferrari – and although they have made excellent use of what they have, they will have to keep doing so to persuade Raikkonen to stay.

“Kimi wants to be assured that we have everything in place to tackle the significant changes we will see in the sport next year,” said team principal Eric Boullier. “We?re working hard to assure him that Lotus F1 Team is where he should be and piece by piece we are getting all our ducks in a row.”

With Red Bull and Mercedes’ driver line-ups complete for next year, Raikkonen’s only remaining options outside of Lotus which might represent a step forward for him would mean a return to a former team: McLaren or Ferrari.

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh admitted in a recent interview he’s a “fan” of Raikkonen and had talks with the driver last year about returning to the fold. But this may just have been him sending a message to Jenson Button following his driver’s public remarks about his 2014 contract not being signed yet.

And whether there might be a space for him at Ferrari depends on whether they’ve finally run out of patience with Raikkonen’s former team mate Felipe Massa.

Massa’s future at Ferrari

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2013Now in his eighth season at Ferrari and his fourth since his 2009 crash, Massa’s days of being a championship competitor are rapidly fading from memory.

Last year was his worst yet alongside Fernando Alonso, scoring a miserable 43.8% of his team mate’s points tally, which he has barely improved on so far this year.

The rumours of Alonso going to Red Bull looked fanciful even before yesterday’s announcement. He is contracted to Ferrari until 2016.

So far Ferrari have been willing to indulge his preference for having a strict number two team mate and there has been no sign yet that is about to change. Bringing back Raikkonen – the driver Alonso replaced – would be an astonishing volte-face on more than one count.

But perhaps the time has come for Ferrari to find a Ricciardo of their own – an up-and-coming driver who has F1 experience and can handle the pressures of driving for the world’s most famous racing team.

Nico Hulkenberg might fit the bill as Massa could be traded back to Sauber, the Ferrari-powered team he joined them from in 2006. Though Hulkenberg may be considered a bit too good to be a number two to Alonso, the team indicated last year they need a driver of sufficient experience.

Sergio Perez, in his second F1 season at the time, was considered not experienced enough. Hulkenberg, in this third season, might, while Ferrari development driver Jules Bianchi has only made 11 starts for Marussia.

Ferrari have said they won’t make an announcement about their future drivers at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix. Much of the rest of the driver market is likely to begin moving once their decision is known – with one exception:

Ricciardo’s replacement

Antonio Felix da Costa, Red Bull, Shanghai, 2013The significance of Ricciardo’s move is that it is the first time Red Bull have promoted from within since Sebastian Vettel moved up from Toro Rosso at the end of 2008. The vacancy created at Toro Rosso will inevitably be taken by the next young hopeful on their Driver Development Programme.

Formula Renault 3.5 racer Antonio Felix da Costa has to be the favourite for the seat.

After a hugely impressive 2012, which involved splitting his efforts between that series and GP3, luck has deserted him so far this year. But Da Costa remains the leading light of the programme and has previously tested for Red bull. It would be a surprise if he were passed over for the next driver in line.

That would by Carlos Sainz Jnr, son of the two-times World Rally Champion of the same name, who impressed when he tested for Red Bull at Silverstone. He is likely to get a Toro Rosso seat eventually, though the indication from Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko is that Jean-Eric Vergne will be driving an STR9 next year.

Tost said Toro Rosso will not hurry the decision on who succeed Ricciardo: “We will now look at all our options and make a decision at a later date, as there is no immediate need to rush.”

Over to you

How do you expect the rest of the driver market for 2014 to unfold? Have your say in the comments.

See the current list of 2014 F1 drivers and teams

2014 F1 season

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Images ?? Red Bull/Getty, GP3/LAT, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

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Keith Collantine
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  • 112 comments on “Ricciardo deal sets 2014 driver market in motion”

    1. I would love to see Hulkenberg in a Ferrari. And I think it could happen.
      It would be their best option imo.

      Da Costa is a shoe-in at Torro-Rosso in my book.
      He has showed great skills in the previous years.
      And when they get on top of their problems in FR3.5 expect him to have a great end of the season.

      McLaren said they would like to see Kevin Magnussen drive in F1, so he could get a seat in a McLaren partnered car?
      And Stoffel Vandoorne will probably end up in GP2 I think, and as a Belgian I hope we can see him shine in F1 soon!

      1. I reckon Magnussen will be put in a Marussia, like Ferrari did with Bianchi, who will move to Sauber. I too would like to see Hulkenberg at Ferrari. I want to see what he can do in a top team!

        1. Interestingly, will McLaren continue with their Marussia partnership? Ferrari (like Mercedes) won’t like Honda getting hold of any of their engine data.

          I think their Force India partnership has also ended, possibly as a result of the Mercedes split.

          1. yes, Marussia will continue to use the McLaren facilities @optimaximal, they (and McLaren if I am not mistaken) confirmed that deal is still going independently of the engine supply

          2. I’m not sure to be honest, but I know they currently have a technical partnership. I’m sure Ferrari wouldn’t allow any engine data to be available to Mercedes/Honda if the partnership continued.
            The Force India partnership ended at the end of last year apparently.

            1. That is interesting, because Kravitz indicated during pre-season testing this year that the partnership between Force India and McLaren is still ongoing to a certain extent.
              Force India are still customers of McLaren at the moment though, as the current car uses a McLaren transmission. It is possible that some small scale technical exchanges still take place through the representatives McLaren have embedded within Force India to provide technical support.

        2. Only if top team make a proper car other way is boring !

      2. I’d be so glad to see Vandoorne in a McLaren!

    2. I’ve seen it said lots of times that Lotus are doing a really good job and punching well above their weight. While I do agree to an extent, I think it’s worth keeping in mind that one of the main reasons they’ve seemed to have taken a step forward this year is that some of their rivals have fallen backwards. Had McLaren, and to an extent Force India managed to maintain their form from previous years, I think that the current performance of Lotus would look far less impressive. Obviously it’s tot heir credit that they’ve managed to keep themselves in a position to be able to gain from the misfortune of others, but I wouldn’t say that in terms of pace, their car is any closer to the front this year than they have been in previous years. It’s just that there are now fewer cars between them and the genuine title contenders.

      What relevance this has is this – there’s a sense that the performance of Lotus this year is somehow a demonstration that the team is making genuine progress towards being title challengers, and as such should be considered a decent seat for any driver who has aspirations to that end (read – all of them..) but I can’t actually see any evidence that they have the ability to take this step, and that their current good performance relies far more on the underperformance of their rivals.

      1. there’s a sense that the performance of Lotus this year is somehow a demonstration that the team is making genuine progress towards being title challengers

        I would have agreed with you .. but losing Allison to Ferrari was definitely a bitter blow to the squad.

    3. Kimi at Lotus.
      Massa at Ferrari.

      There. I said it. The most boring prediction. But probably the most likely one.

      1. I completely agree with you. I think it’s definitely in Kimi’s best interest to keep his seat at Lotus. He’s more appreciated there than at Ferrari.

      2. +1 Kimi committing to Lotus long-term would do wonders for their finances, I’m sure.

    4. Sainz is 9th in the GP3 series, behind Arden teammate and fellow Red Bull junior Daniil Kvyat. Also, Kvyat is moving directly from Formula Renault 2.0, whereas Sainz did Euro F3 and British F3. I cannot fathom how they will choose Sainz over Kvyat…

      1. Agreed. As someone who follows the Red Bull junior program fairly closely, I am amazed at the number of times in the last few weeks that I have seen Sainz Jnr mentioned as a possible Toro Rosso driver for 2014, seemingly on the basis of a few decent laps at the recent YDT.

        Remember also that while Alguersauri, Ricciardo and Vergne all won the British F3 title on their path to F1, Sainz Jnr finished a disappointing 6th last year in a relatively weak field. His F3 Euro series was no better.

        There’s no doubt that Sainz can be quick on occasion, but without so much as a win in a recognised entry level formula like GP3 or WSR 3.5, he is a couple of years away from F1, at best. Personally I think the young Russian is the better prospect.

        1. There’s probably also the ease at which the media will name drop Sainz Jr. because of his dad.

          1. Worked for Bruno Senna

      2. @wsrgo

        I cannot fathom how they will choose Sainz over Kvyat

        I believe it may have something to do with the brilliant job Sainz did at the Young Driver Test, and by comparison Kvyat was nowhere near as comfortable in an F1 car. Visible so, even, from my trackside vantage point at luffield.

        1. @william-brierty Funny that, given how much difficulty he’s having to crack the GP3/F3 level, that he’s already looking relatively comfortable for an F1 car. Perhaps he was born for this? ;)
          The reason could be that Sainz has driven powerfl cars before this, whereas Kvyat has less experience in those high power cars…

          1. @wsrgo – don’t take what @william-brierty wrote as critisizing Kvyat’s abilities. Just maybe his level of preparedness to potentially step up to F1.

            As you yourself mention, Sainz has more experience in powerfull cars, so then its fair to say that is one point where Kvyat is lagging behind for now, and it could be a factor.

            1. @bascb No, I was thinking very sequentially back then. I hadn’t though of the second paragraph when I was writing the first, and when I finished writing the second paragraph, I automatically clicked on ‘Reply’ without editing the first paragraph…:/

            2. yes, that explains!

          2. @wsrgo As you well know, performances in the junior series don’t always correlate into being more or less comfortable in an F1 car. Guys like Pic or particularly Kobayashi, who had a very unincredible junior career, were slotted into F1 cars and quite quickly felt comfortable, as was proved by Kobayashi in his first GP with Toyota. On the flip side, the junior career of Jean-Eric Vergne would suggest that he should have signed a contract for Red Bull, however, as we know, that is not the case. Sainz has just clearly taken to the feel of an F1 car more than Kvyat, and that might well be because he hasn’t got as much experience with that magnitude of power, but if he needs more experience, then why on earth would Red Bull prematurely promote him up the next wrung of the ladder; to their Formula Renault 3.5 team? Sainz and not Kvyat will almost certainly take da Costa’s place at the Arden Caterham team (that is me assuming that there will only be space for one Red Bull backed driver in FR3.5, although I admit it is extremely likely that the seat that Pietro Fantin currently occupies will also host a Red Bull young driver in 2014), and that’s not me criticizing Kvyat’s ability, quite the opposite, I think he has great potential, but a) Sainz has arguably demonstrated that he has F1 potential at the Young Driver Test, and b) Sainz is in all reality the stronger of Red Bull’s GP3 team. I know you will argue that point, but Sainz arrived in Spa ahead, out-qualified Kvyat, and fell into a wayward Harvey’s clutches simply because of a poor start. Had Sainz got a better start, he would be comfortably ahead of Kvyat in the standings. This Sainz vs Kvyat debate though is largely irrelevant, because both drivers have huge plus points behind them, talent regardless, so with Carlos Sainz’s name (a trick that worked for Bruno Senna) and the Russian flag on Kvyat’s overalls, expect to see both of them on the outskirts of, or in F1 in the near future.

            1. @wiliam-brierty But Sainz has done F3 last year, and his move to GP3 wasn’t as big a step upwards as Kvyat’s. Even if he won at Spa, with Kvyat second, the Spaniard would have been ahead only by a few points, which certainly wasn’t expected at the start of the season. Also, Kvyat is doing a full double campaign this year, he’s a guest driver in the FIA F3 European championship with Carlin, where he’s doing a better job than Sainz was doing last year, despite being in a much tougher field.
              One test cannot be the basis for judgement. But junior formulae results are the first step to realise the talent of a driver. IMO, Sainz and Kvyat should both go to WSR next year.

            2. @wsrgo Sainz and Kvyat could well end up as teammates in WSR next year, and if Kvyat is out of sequence in terms of experience, he may end up being the being the better in years to come. However right now, he is not regarded as an equal of Sainz, and unfairly or not, that is based a) the test Sainz did with Red Bull (Kvyat only got to drive the Toro Rosso, which again is an illustration of the lower regard in which he is held) and b) the fact that Sainz currently seems to have greater raw pace, as perfectly demonstrated in qualifying at Spa.

    5. da Costa to Toro Rosso.
      Bianchi to Sauber.
      Hulkenberg to Ferrari.
      Kimi stays at Lotus.

      That’s what I’d like to see anyway. Massa (sadly enough) should hang up his boots and end his career at Ferrari, rather than struggle in a mid-field car.

      1. @nackavich Same here. I would also add..
        Nasr and Magnussen at Marussia
        Rossi at Caterham
        Calado at Force India

        1. Nasr/Magnussen at Marussia sounds like a driver pairing that could vault Marussia into the Top 8 – if the team is able to build a capable car. It assumes Bianchi has impressed enough to warrant a promotion to Sauber or another mid-field team. And I don’t think Chilton is the reincarnation of Taki Inoue, but Nasr is younger, faster, has a better pre-F1 record, and oh by the way, he carries quite a bit of sponsorship himself.

          I would love that pairing a lot.

          1. I suspect we’ll see more of Chilton as his dad is currently bankrolling the team to a degree and with Marussia not having sorted out being part of the Concorde, they won’t be getting any FOM funding.

      2. Thats exactly what I would like to see

      3. Wouldn’t like to see Raikkonen waste the last years of his career in a midlevel-budget team that performs well, if the other option is in toplevel-budget team that performs well….

    6. Anyone who’s listened to Ricciardo’s lengthy, painstaking debriefs on the Toro Rosso team radio during practice sessions will know his technical feedback is of a high standard.

      Where can one hear this kind of thing? I’m sure it would be very fascinating

      1. Likewise, wouldn’t mind hearing some of this. I’m going to assume it’s a bbc /sky feature though.

        Please advise if we can hear these feeds in Australia!

        1. I’m going to assume it’s a bbc /sky feature though.

          Radio broadcasts are controlled by the world feed – national broadcasters don’t have a say.

      2. @jx On the FOM pit lane feed during practice sessions. Here in the UK BBC and Sky carry it, I don’t know about other countries.

        1. @keithcollantine – We don’t get any coverage of that here in Australia. All we get is thirty minutes’ worth of pre-show (less if the network is willing to let high-rating programmes run overtime, which they frequently do), then straight into qualifying or the race. We don’t get anything from free practice unless it’s the Australian Grand Prix. So this is the first I’ve heard (or at least remember hearing) about Ricciardo’s technical feedback being highly prized.

    7. I don’t think we’ve seen the most significant story in development of the 2014 grid. The Ricciardo move was inevitable, as it was the only move that fitted, what with the backlog in the Red Bull Young Driver Programme, there being no guarantee for Raikkonen of Red Bull’s competitiveness in the F1’s new era, Red Bull being an intense commercial environment and with Red Bull arguably looking a driver to support Vettel. I would hazard a guess that Ricciardo’s name was on the dotted line before Hungarian GP. Ferrari is now the key. I would imagine that if most teams, if they were in Ferrari’s position, would replace Massa with Raikkonen or more likely Hulkenberg. But will Ferrari? Is status quo so important to Ferrari that it is worth sacrificing points for? Is the convenient #1 and #2 balance within a team compulsory at Ferrari? Would an Alonso-Raikkonen partnership constitute “two cockerels in one hen-house?” It pains me to say this because Massa is a great guy, but like Webber, the time is right to call it quits. However his replacement is a strange situation because Alonso, who is generally regarded as the best driver in the world, almost seems to be being protected from having too good a teammate. Weird, but what I do know is that the 2014 driver selection at Ferrari will give us a comprehensive profile of Ferrari’s current philosophy. But what do we know? Well, Calado apparently already has one hand on Sutil’s 2014 drive, and I expect da Costa is probably having a seat fitting at Toro Rosso. Other than that, it is all smoke and mirrors.

      1. However his replacement is a strange situation because Alonso, who is generally regarded as the best driver in the world, almost seems to be being protected from having too good a teammate.

        He brings a lot of Spanish banking money into the team and doesn’t like competitive teammates. We saw what happened when Trulli beat him at Renault, Hamilton matched him at McLaren as a rookie driver.

        There might have been a moment at the end of 2006 where Fred was best driver in the world, but not in 2013. Vettel in 2013 has been flawless. He’s only had the fastest package at Bahrain, Montreal and Spa yet his nearly two races ahead of his nearest rival. Plus to be the best driver in the world you have to take into account a driver’s performance in qualifying and Alonso is a long way behind Vettel and Alonso in that area.

        1. “and Alonso is a long way behind Vettel and Alonso in that area.”
          Yeah, Alonso is totally behind Alonso in that area ;)

        2. Vettel and Hamilton you mean, and that is true, you have to have the whole package to be regarded as the best in the world.
          It would be entertaining to see Alonso against a competitive team-mate who makes his life a bit harder. He hasn’t had one since 2007, and we all know how poorly he coped with that.

          1. But that most likely will not happen, as Alonso is trying to take the same approach as certain Schumacher took in his time, just be clear #1 driver in every season by default and do your best from there from top team. 2007 was too big wake up call for him and revealed his vulnerability then.

            1. The whole Schumacher demanding weak teammates is bit of a myth. Barrichello came to Ferrari in 2000 with a lot of fanfare. He had some incredible drives in 1999 with Stewart. Got up to 4th in Australia after starting from pitlane (before engine blew), passed Irvine (in the Ferrari) in Brazil (before engine blew), Austria 3rd before engine blew, Germany got up to 5th before engine blew, got 4th at Monza beating Coulthard in the Newey McLaren.

              Ferrari brought Barrichello to Ferrari because he was in their eyes are star of the future. Schumacher blew him away like he did every teammate, and Barrichello became increasingly bitter about it. Massa’s might be a terrible driver now, but before his crash he ended his $50 million teammate’s career at Ferrari because he couldn’t keep up with him.

            2. To be honest though, I think Massa was hired partly because he was the most exciting prospect available at the time. Schumi took him under his wings and he was touted as the replacement, but I am not sure they have ever had complete faith that he would be future WDC material. I think they just thought that he could be WDC material. He came to Sauber pretty much as the next Raikkonen but didn’t quite deliver on the same level. He did show some potential though, and I think both Sauber and Ferrari were hoping that he was a diamond in the rough. And if you look at what was available for Ferrari in 2005, he was the only reasonably exciting prospect in there. Also, they knew him from testing, he got along well with the team etc so he was a logical choice for the medium and possibly long term – and to be fair, he came very very close to giving them the title so credit to him for that!

              I really like the guy but now there’s not really any untapped potential left, just an underperforming driver. Is it because of the accident, or is it something else? Who knows, but there is probably little reason to believe he has a world-beating future ahead of him.

        3. @todfod I couldn’t resist replying to him. He tried to me that Vettel only had the fastest package at Bahrain, Montreal and Spa this year, and that Vettel has had a “flawless” 2013, whilst conveniently forgetting the fact that Vettel under-performed in qualifying in Hungary and Monaco thus costing him a shot at the win. He also reckons that Alonso is one of the grid’s worst qualifiers, despite having obliterated Massa, a man who was Mr Qualifying in 2008, for the past three and a bit seasons. I think he works for Vettel’s marketing team…

        4. @todfod

          +1, I stopped replying to ‘anon’ a long time ago… he seems to be watching a different sport altogether..

        5. Very well said. But the funny thing is that the guy that has Alonso’s helmet as his photo complains about Vettel’s fans on this site.

      2. da costa did have a seat fitting actually, whether its for STR, no clue, but i saw a red bull logo everywhere in his vine

    8. Ferrari wants a midfield drive for Bianchi, so if they take Hulk from Sauber, then Bianchi is a logical choice. The only problem might be, that Sauber is moving down the field and next year can fight with Marussia for the last place. Then at Sauber, there is a plan to run Sirotkin and then there is Guttierez bringing some cash, so there might be three drivers for two cars. I don’t see Massa driving for Sauber, if he gets the axe his F1 career is done. Kimi’s best option to stay in F1 is Lotus, I don’t believe Ferrari or McLaren would sign him for a year, they have enough young drivers on the waiting list (Bianchi, Magnussen,…). But I’m really interrested, how things and money develop at Williams and Force India, Paul Di Resta might be a dark horse for the Ferrari seat, if they decice to drop Massa. And everything may get more complicated, if Lotus decides to sack Grosjean.

      1. Imagine if Guttierez’s cash was offset by free/subsidised Ferrari engines…

    9. Brazilian media has reported that Felipe Nasr may go into Toro Rosso. If Massa leaves Ferrari and F1, Brazil would be left without a driver in F1. So that means the biggest market for F1 in terms of viewers would be left without a driver. No way Bernie will allow that.

      1. That would be great: Hülkenberg comes to Ferrari, the russian kid comes to Sauber while Felipe Nasr joins Toro Rosso :)

      2. can’t see that, red bull have their own young drivers program and nasr is no part of it.

      3. @ruicaridade – Bernie didn’t lift a finger to help out Italian drivers when Jarno Trulli lost his seat at Caterham last year. So I don’t see why he’d suddenly start to help Brazilian drivers.

      4. Depends how you calculate the viewers….one could argue China has the biggest market…. Can’t see Brazil that big of deal to keep one driver with no matter what cost in F1 if there isn’t any good ones available.

          1. You do know that Bernie doesn’t have that much influence over driver line-ups, right? He’s very good at telling the media what they want to hear, and the Brazilian media is easier to manipulate than most because they will believe any story about a Brazilian driver, no matter how ludicrous it sounds.

            At the end of the day, if a team feels that another driver is a better choice, then they will take that other driver. Look at Vitaly Petrov – people though Bernie would help him because it was in Bernie’s interests to have a Russian driver in the sport, but it didn’t help Petrov much, did it?

    10. Have nothing against Massa but i’m afraid he just isn’t up to the level Ferrari should be expecting, even as a second driver. Having been denied a Vettel/Raikkonen duel I’d like to see Alonso/Raikkonen at Ferrari. Then:

      Alonso/Raikkonen Ferrari
      Grosjean/Hulkenberg Lotus

      Don’t see anywhere for Massa to go sadly as Sauber need big sponsorship money (Guitierrez/Sirotkin?). Think there are others more deserving of the Lotus drive than Grosjean, but doubt they’d want a completely new driver lineup, in addition to sponsorship he might bring (Total as i understand it). I’d rather DiResta went there too but don’t see it happening. Would also be interested to see what Bianchi can do in a slightly more competitive car, Force India probably his best bet if one of their current drivers move.

      1. that’s it

      2. But that most likely will not happen, as Alonso is trying to take the same approach as certain Schumacher took in his time, just be clear #1 driver in every season by default and do your best from there from top team. 2007 was too big wake up call for him and revealed his vulnerability then.

    11. I have a feeling that the run for the top seats will end in a bit of an anticlimax. It feels like an annual thing now. Massa has mediocre season. Everybody speculates as to who will replace him. Ferrari decide to give him another chance. I don’t think this year will be any different. Kimi will then remain at Lotus because there won’t be any better options out there.

      There are many points of interest in the midfield, though. A lot will depend on whether Lotus stick with Grosjean or not. Then there is whether McLaren can find a seat for Magnussen. Will Telmex continue to back Gutierrez’ career? The race for the STR seats will also be interesting… I’ll just go through what I guess the midfield (and bottom teams) will look like next year.

      Force India – Bianchi and Magnussen
      Sauber – Sirotkin and Gutierrez
      Williams – no change
      STR – AFdC and Nasr
      Caterham – Pic and Rossi
      Marussia – Chilton and … I’ve no idea

      I’ve omitted Hulkenburg there, but to be honest, unless he can take Massa’s seat or convince Lotus to choose him over both Grosjean and Valsecchi, then I really can’t see where else he would go. It’s sad to say that, but I think he could be left out in the cold in the same way he was in 2011.

      As for Sutil and di Resta, well… they’ve been around long enough and still haven’t really shown anything particularly special. There are plenty of better drivers out there, who probably come with less baggage as well…

      As for JEV, much as I like him, he’s probably going to suffer the same fate as Buemi and Alguersuari.

      1. So you think Sutil is gone? I read somewhere that FI kinda needs Sutil’s money and I rather believe it. With regards to Caterham, idk much about Rossi, but I don’t think he has as much money as VDG… which if VDG were to go, I think they would rather pick up on KOV again, or maybe PET again if he found money.

        1. I don’t think Sutil brings that much (just Capri-Sun?). Medion stuck with FI despite Sutil not racing.

          1. Medion didn’t sponsor Force India while Sutil wasn’t racing. They returned when Sutil returned.

      2. “Force India – Bianchi and Magnussen”
        No way a team will change there both drivers when it will be so important to have good feedback next year.

        1. You’re right actually, didn’t think that through properly! I change my guess to Di Resta sticking with FI and Bianchi staying with Marussia, then!

      3. Di Resta brings money now (he has his own cap!) and he’s only in his third year. Not really fair to write him off yet.

        Sutil’s been hanging around since 2007…

      4. Why not Calado for a Force India race seat? His sudden call-up to FP1 running seems significant at this time of year.

        It’s hard to envisage a double driver change at Force India, so if Calado were to get a race seat surely that would keep Bianchi at Marussia. Whether Kimi does go to Ferrari or not up will determine where Hulkenberg goes and surely neither Ferrari or Lotus would choose DiResta over Hulkenberg.

        It will be interesting to see what happens with Di Resta. He seems quite agitated lately while Sutil seems fairly relaxed, more interested in Hamilton’ lifestyle than any uncertainties over his own future career. If one of the Force India drivers were to leave perhaps DiResta would be the most likely but where would he go?

        1. I do agree that Calado is in line for a FI seat but I reckon they’ll give him a “Bottas” year and put him in the seat for 2015. I’m just thinking back to Bianchi when he was turned down the FI seat after being the reserve driver for a year. I can’t see them taking on Calado after only having him being the reserve for a few months. I’d love to be proven wrong though, I’m a big fan of James.

        2. “If one of the Force India drivers were to leave perhaps DiResta would be the most likely but where would he go?”
          Back to DTM?

    12. For Lotus’ 2014 line-up i’m going left-field. it’s farfetched, but I want to see this happen: Kimi to stay, Grosjean out, Kamui Kobayashi in.

      1. @celicadion23

        “Grosjean out, Kamui Kobayashi in”

        Give that man a medal. I thought it was only me (and probably the whole of Japan) that wanted Kobaybashi back in F1. Grosjean has pace but is too careless so it negated his potential. Kamui is a pure racer like Petez. Although they make mistakes I wouldn’t put them in the same boat at Mr 1st Lap Nutcase.

        Plus if Kamui doesn’t get a seat next year he’ll have to give back the million or so that was donated to him by all his broken hearted fans!!!

        I would love to see

        Ferrari – Alonslow & The Ice(cream)Man
        Lotus – Koyaybashi & The Hulk
        Farce India – Same (I love hearing how much Di Resta moans at not getting a drive with a top team after each season.
        Sauber – Biancci & Gutierez

        No place for Massa as he should have been given the flick long ago. As for Caterham & Marussia it doesn’t really matter as I don’t think they’ll be Mid Field teams next year

        1. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
          3rd September 2013, 17:54

          @bobby-balboa Alonslow? Do we have a Vefail fan here? ;)

          1. He definitely isn’t a DeRestable fan. *This came up elsewhere for some reason*

          2. Just curious because there was another similar post before. Why do Alonso fans label anyone that posts something bad for Alonso as a Vettel’s fan. Why they can’t be Hamilton fans or any other driver’s fans for that matter?

          3. @shreyasf1fan

            “Alonslow? Do we have a Vefail fan here?”

            Far from it my friend. I was never a fan of Alonslow however he has gone up on my likeability in recent seasons. Fingerboy however needs a strong teammate that can really take the fight to him before he’ll be in this position.

            Everyone knew Kimi has the tools to do that but Redbull were scared of having an Alonso/Hamilton situation . . . . . poor show

      2. I doubt Kobayashi has much of a chance. Raikkonen’s presence in the team seems to be necessary to secure more funding, whilst Eric Boullier insists on running a French driver in the second seat.

    13. Where does Mitch Evans fit into the Red Bull young driver scheme (if at all)? Is he more likely than Sainz to do some testing with Toro Rosso next year? Or even challenge Felix da Costa for the race seat?

      I’m not convinced by Lotus’s championship talk, not yet. Eric may have his row of ducks, but he doesn’t have a row of winner’s trophies and they don’t seem to have progressed from one win and a few near misses per season.
      And that’s with F1’s most consistent driver – if they lost Kimi, they’d be back to picking up scraps and broken front wings as they did with Heidfeld, Petrov and Senna. If Valsecchi was way better than that lot and Grosjean, somebody would have snapped him up by now.

      1. Mitch Evans is too young, I think they ‘ll give him a ride in Formula Renault 3.5 or another one in GP2 next year.

      2. @tomsk Evans is not a member of the Reed Bull Junior Team. He is only backed by Red Bull sponsorship, has Mark Webber as a guiding light, and races for Arden in GP2. That’s it, really. Evans will probably remain in GP2 for at least another year, and then we’ll have to wait and see if he has a chance to land an STR seat.

      3. I think the most we’ll see of Mitch in F1 is a potential STR test driver, I could possibly see him driving for them at the end of year young drivers test, but he has said himself he would prefer another year of GP2 as he doesn’t feel he’s experienced enough for F1 yet. Maybe a 2015 seat, thats certainly possible although 2016’s probably more likely.

    14. As a Kimi fan, I wanted to see him in a faster car. But what was more annoying than this dream being nixed, is the fact that Eddie Jordan was right about it and how smug he is gonna be about it next time :)))

    15. It’s ridiculous that Massa has his seat until the end of the season, let alone being considered for next season.

      In 2004, Barrichello finishes second in the championship and is replaced. In 1999, Irvine finishes second in the championship and is replaced.

      To what levels will Ferrari sink to appease Alonso?

      1. IIRC, both Irvine and Barrichello left of their own choice.

      2. Irvine wanted to fight for his own glory after having tasted success in 1999, Barrichello drove for Ferrari in 2005. Massa going to Ferrari in 2006 worked in many ways; as Rubens was fed up with Ferrari and saw an opportunity at Honda to win more races (they looked good as BAR in 2004) and Massa did something that looked like maturing at Sauber.

        I’m also pretty sure Alonso wasn’t at Ferrari between 1999 and 2006.

        1. Rubens wasn’t fed up with Ferrari, he was fed up with Schumacher, as he was the one who originally wanted the #1 driver status in the contract. Ferrari just obliged that and Rubens knew it and still drove as Schumachers lackey for many years.

    16. kobayashi in the ferrari 2014 perhaps..

      1. I highly doubt Kobayashi will be in F1 next year, let alone at a team such as Ferrari. They have much better options available to them than him.

        1. “They have much better options available to them than him.”
          Thats the point, they ‘re looking for someone who’s not good enough to beat Alonso :P

        2. He’s already an AF Corse Ferrari driver, so it would be a lot less effort to move him up into a race seat than poaching from a rival team.

          The question is, would he be worth it?

          1. I know and he has done some demonstrations for them, but Ferrari won’t put him in the seat. Another team coming along would be more likely to me, even though a return altogether is unlikely at present.

    17. Mirko Bortolotti looks also very competitive :)

    18. Does anyone else think that Massa’s steadfast refusal to vacate his seat is just bloody-minded stubbornness, like it was for Barrichello?

      There seems to be a pressure (in the media, if not their country as a whole) for Brazilian drivers to be the next Senna.

      Every year, Massa seems to be carrying the country flag and with no clear protégée/successor now Bruno Senna has disappeared to endurance racing, it seems to be the case that he’s destined to slug on until he finally gives in or is dropped like a stone – ideally it needs to be the former, if only for his sanity.

      1. Barrichello never had off seasons in the way Massa is having now, IMO ;)

        Bresil will not get another Senna, but I’m sure they’ll produce a couple of great drivers in the future (cf. Felipe Nasr)

      2. Barrichello felt he could still win races at Ferrari and it was his best bet at winning a championship. He woke up one day, though. Even if his move to Honda was probably because of BAR’s 2004 form and a forlorn dream of winning races without having to consider Schumacher’s championship hopes first.

        Massa and Ferrari are so related to each other by now, I and others have jokingly speculated there’s perhaps a love scandal or two involved..

      3. @optimaximal

        Does anyone else think that Massa’s steadfast refusal to vacate his seat is just bloody-minded stubbornness

        It’s up to Ferrari who they put in their car. You can’t blame Massa for wanting to keep driving a Formula One Ferrari, I know I would.

    19. I hope to see Kimi or Hulkenberg replacing Massa next year… I am an Alonso fan and I always felt that all this talk about Alonso not wanting a competitive team mate is a little overrated… I hope to see him pitted against Hulkenberg or Kimi( as they are the best among the available options IMO) … they will undoubtedly perform much better than Massa and will put Alonso under a lot more pressure..

      1. I agree. 2007 was a long time ago!

    20. So My Lineup for next year including all the confirmed seats.

      Redbull – Vettel & Riccardo
      Mercedes – Hamilton & Rosberg
      Mclaren – Button & Perez
      Ferrari – Alonso & Hulkenburg
      Lotus – Raikkonen & Grosjen
      Torro Rosso – Vergne & Sainz Jr
      Force India – Sutil & Di Resta
      Sauber – Massa & Gutierrez
      Williams – Maldanado & Bottas
      Caterham – Pic & Van der Garde
      Marussia – Bianchi & Chilton

    21. There are soo many drivers I want to see in F1 next year.
      Let’s start with Ferrari: Alonso will stay, of course, but I think that Massa will be kicked out of the team. From what I understand Hulkenberg and Raikkonen are battling for that seat. I hope it goes to Hulkenberg, because otherwise I don’t see a place for him in F1 and he really deserves a top team seat. It would be disappointing to see Kimi stay at Lotus, but whatever.

      Then there’s GP2. There are a lot of competitive drivers. Coletti, Nasr, Leimer, Bird and Calado are quite close to each other in the championship. I still think that the battle is going to be between Coletti and Nasr, but we’ll see. Calado will probably go to Force India, someone says that Nasr will go to Toro Rosso (but it won’t be the case, in my opinion). Sadly, I don’t see Coletti, Leimer or Bird in F1. I’m quite sad for Coletti, I didn’t expect him to do so well this year. He has had a couple of awful weekends, but his season, overall, has been strong.

      I think Antonio Felix Da Costa will go to Toro Rosso. There’s no reason to pick Sainz Jnr or Nasr over him, in my opinion.

      I’d love to see Frijns in F1 next year, but he is barely in GP2. Magnussen and Vandoorne have impressed me, but there are not enough teams for all of these drivers, I’m afraid.

      1. I agree if after three years have not got even a podium let’s get new blood, move up or move out, top teams dont guarantee great cars anyway.
        2012 GP2 champ is also waiting for a chance,
        Grosjean will be great at Ferrari he can complain less than kimi, qualifies at top and now has experience.
        Kimi to Mclaren with Perez will be great fight.
        Lotus Hulkenberg-Valsecchi

        Pastor, Paul, Pic out

    22. What I can’t comprehend is why everyone is so certain Kimi will even be in F1 next year. Call me silly, but I believe it is on his terms what he does as he already has a guaranteed drive. RedBull couldn’t meet his demands maybe? Lotus isn’t paying him (so the media portray) or giving him the package he requires to win, nor does it seem they can. Ferrari are prancing like the horse they are, not ready to upset the applecart that Alonso rides in or further break the inconvincing stride of Massa (they could just be gagging the horse of course), Mercedes seats are filled (unless Nico gets shunted) and no other team has anything worth considering for a driver of his pedigree. With the new regs next year, every team is considered a gamble anyhow. Will it be another unsuccessful return to F1 by a former champ? He can either leave now and pursue rallying, motocross or whatever he chooses or stay runner up and leave F1 again. We may have another vacancy before we know it! One thing is for sure, if Kimi stays it has to be worth his while.

    23. He definitely isn’t a DeRestable fan.

    24. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      3rd September 2013, 16:14

      Why don’t Red Bull (the whole company, not the F1 team) inject more money in Toro Rosso to have an up-in-the-midfield team? Having TR’s drivers more on the mix could diagnose faster if they deserve a hot spot or not.

      1. Let’s see what happens next year when they have the same engine and drivetrain as the Red Bull, and James Key having fully developed the car from scratch. I predict they may have a better year next year than many of the other midfield teams.

    25. If there is no top seat for P.DiResta soon, I will be sad and shocked. This guy beat Vettel in 2006. Yes, THAT Vettel! Top teams can’t be that blind, can they?

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        3rd September 2013, 20:53

        That point doesn’t hold up because Di Resta was beaten in both of his years in F1.

    26. I would love to see Kimi at Ferrari next season, but don’t believe it will happen. Ferrari like Massa and have proved that for years now by keeping him for this long even if the F1 media disapproves. There are big changes for F1 next season, keeping Massa alongside Alonso will be a constant in a season of change. They know what they have in Massa. LDM has stated he would like to see Massa with Ferrari in 2014 even though he included his wish for better results. Rehiring Kimi at Ferrari might make sense for scoring more points in the short term, but especially for someone like LDM, it would have to be choked down like yesterday’s wine. Not likely.

      So, Kimi will probably stay with Lotus for next season pushing the team for the best car possible under difficult circumstances technically and financially. It’s not a bad gamble. Budget may not be the best indicator for which team gets it right the quickest in 2014. Look at McLaren and their struggles in 2013 with well known and established regs in place. Stranger things have happened, but not likely Kimi will go to McLaren given the current situation. 2015 might be more likely with the promise of Honda and another season to see if the Perez experiment pans out.

      Another seat to speculate on would be Maldonado at Williams. How many more wrecks and bad decisions without taking responsibility can Williams tolerate. Maldonado is supposed to be the veteran driver on the team, but keeps making rookie mistakes. There are too many other good drivers available to fill that seat without the constant mistakes. The car is lacking this season for sure, but at least Bottas has been able to keep his on the track most of the time. Williams could thank Maldonado for his service at the end of the season and then hire Bianchi or another young driver with promise.

    27. LotsOfControl (@for-unlawful-carnal-knowledge)
      3rd September 2013, 18:30

      I just hope Kimi doesn’t end up doin NASCAR next year.

    28. Redbull – Vettel & Riccardo
      Mercedes – Hamilton & Rosberg
      Mclaren – Button & Perez
      Ferrari – Alonso & Raikkonen
      Lotus – Maldonado(with his ££) & Hulkenberg
      Torro Rosso – Vergne & Sainz Jr
      Force India – Sutil & Di Resta
      Sauber – Massa & Sirotkin
      Williams – Grosjean & Bottas
      Caterham – Pic & Van der Garde
      Marussia – Bianchi & Chilton

    29. It is high time “The Hulk” got a good drive. And move to Ferrari will be the reason I might support them :)

    30. Kubica in Ferrari. Finally.

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