Silly season: 2014 F1 driver market

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    @andae23: because ‘Nasr’ means ‘twins’ in Portuguese… ;)


    @matthijs … obviously :P


    A very thorough post there – well played- if 50% comes true you are a genius!! :)

    As always in F1 the decisions made at the top will then spill down and then into the lower Formula’s. While we all were waiting for Force India to tell us how they wanted it, a lot of drivers where also waiting to see if Senna, KK, Glock etc would take their seat.

    So Webbers choice to stay or go OR RBR choice to push him the first point of call. The cards will play from there. Kimi OBVIOUSLY has not commented on this new option but interesting to see the rumours that will follow.

    I dont think Button will retire this year, but possibly next. It gives Checo one more year in a top (or was top :) team. McLaren like stability, will find form and same line up next year.
    I do find it interesting with the comments Whitmarsh made about a choice over Checo or Di Resta. Not sure if I have this right but havent both had (until 2012 Brazil) 2 full seasons in F1? Perez a 2nd and two 3rds but Di Resta no top 5 last year? I think they have made the right choice and Checo a WDC or close and Di Resta may get pushed if he doesnt perform better this year. He shows he can of course, quali in Malaysia an example, he was on a REAL quick one and pitted- not sure why?. He seems to me like KK or the Torro Rosso boys (current & previous years) 2-3 seasons and your out!!

    The Hulk is the same- drove 2010, rested 2011 :( and back last year. An imesnse talent that really needs to be realised at some stage this year to get a look in for either RBR or a top drive. If not he may also be pushed aside or stay in a mid-tier. It seems a waste but there are many drivers in F1 history that did not get a car to show their real speed. I think Mark a great example- could have easily been passed on after year 2 or 3 – struggled on and when he finally got a quick & reliable car won races and almost a championship.

    I thought Riccardio to Williams and interesting call. I think Dan & JEV have been given a bit of harsh treatment last year and so far this year- which seems to be pretty normal for the “sister car” but given the machinery I think both have done very well. Both keep a spot next year, JEV stays put and Dan goes to RBR over Nico (And NO bias here being an Aussie of course :).

    Jules Bianchi for Ferarri next year a bit much- they were freaking on an inexperianced Checo last year even though he alomst beat their boy in Malaysia. A year or so he will be in a top team, 3-4 I think a contender- I pick him for the Williams next year in Pastor goes (again- money) or Sauber if Nico gets the call up. Like Senna (Ayrton), too talented to stay put in a crap team. (Senna was lucky enough his family is LOADED and bought him out the Toleman contact for Lotus in 1985).

    Anyway………… silly season started earlier this year- may be thats what Horner meant when he said “Come’on Seb, this is SILLY” ??


    Bumping this up.

    There are rumors about that Mark Webber is off to the WEC. He is said to have just signed a 5-year deal with Porsche from 2014, presumably to drive their new LMP car.

    The rumor has been announced by Hindy at Radio Le Mans, as well as the tannoy at Silverstone (as per Toby Moody). It was also confirmed by journo Kate Walker.

    On the other hand, Andrew Benson said “If I had heard it was true, I would have said. I haven’t and don’t believe it is.” A few minutes later, there was a slight change in tune: “I’m not saying it definitely won’t happen. I just don’t believe it’s true right now.”

    I personally think it’s a done deal and we’re just waiting for the announcement.

    Do you think it’s true? If it is, who would replace him: Kimi Raikkonen? Daniel Ricciardo? Someone else? And would that also open up a race seat for Antonio Felix da Costa?

    Antonio Nartea


    There are rumors about that Mark Webber is off to the WEC. He is said to have just signed a 5-year deal with Porsche from 2014, presumably to drive their new LMP car.

    And not only that, apparently the rumour is coming from within the Porsche AG team. Personally I think it’s a done deal as well (it has been since Webber’s meeting with the Porsche officials) but I don’t see it getting an official announcement soon, to be honest. Porsche won’t rush into anything just yet as they still have a driver line-up to complete and a car to build.

    If it is, who would replace him: Kimi Raikkonen? Daniel Ricciardo? Someone else? And would that also open up a race seat for Antonio Felix da Costa?

    And question no.2: Will Mark actually finish his season with Red Bull? Raikkonen is a potential replacement, but the thing is…he might just stick to Lotus and in that case, the only logical thing to do for Red Bull will be bringing Da Costa in and try to make a Vettel 2.0 out of him from the very beginning. If Mark starts losing interest and motivation and starts delivering poorer and poorer results for Red Bull, will they see him through the end of the season or give him the boot and bring Da Costa in? Or will one of the Torro Rosso guys get a ticket home in order to provide Da Costa with some much-needed time in an F1 car before next season?

    This could turn into a weird situation for quite a few of the people involved soon…


    @tony031r Red Bull would be crazy to promote AFDC to the main team right away. He might wilt under the pressure – especially if he needs to score for the WCC. A more likely outcome if Webber needs to be replaced mid-season is for Ricciardo to get the call-up – he was great at the end of last year and even more so at the start of this year, today scoring STR’s best result since… well, Vettel in 2008. That in turn would free up a seat for AFDC at STR to go up against JEV.

    I put Kimi in the post due to his previous Red Bull connections, but with Lotus doing so well, there won’t really be much reason for him to move now IMO.

    If they don’t go for the Ricciardo-da Costa double promotion, Buemi should be a serviceable #2 driver at RBR to support Vettel for the championship.

    Antonio Nartea

    Red Bull would be crazy to promote AFDC to the main team right away.

    I’ve seen weirder things happen, to be honest. If Da Costa is actually the kid-wonder everyone makes him to be, he might just be worth the risk. Not saying Red Bull will actually do this (it’s improbable), I’m just saying it might be an idea worth taking into consideration, provided Da Costa, somehow manages to get serious mileage in an F1 car under his belt fast.

    I’m sure Marko will draw up a nice contract for Raikkonen in an attempted bid to sign him but if the finn says no (something which is highly likely to happen) than Red Bull have a dilemma on their hands. Promote the young potential superstar (Da Costa) and hope he will deliver quickly or promote the known-quantity (Ricciardo) and hope he will perform at the level of the car. And that’s it. They have no other options. Really!

    I doubt Hulkenberg, Sutil or Di Resta will get a call from Marko and the rest of the field (including Vergne) is simply not Red Bull material.


    @tony031r Wasn’t Marko courting Hülkenberg a few months ago? Personally I don’t think it would be unreasonable in case Räikkönen turns the offer down, should it come.

    Personally I don’t think either Ricciardo or Vergne are Red Bull material. I mean, they are good drivers, they certainly deserve a place in a good midfield team, but I’m not sure if they are good enough to grant them a seat at one of the very best teams while we have drivers like Hülkenberg (whom I regard as a future champion) driving a Sauber. Either Vettel-Räikkönen and Vettel-Hülkenberg would be an amazing line-up.

    Antonio Nartea

    @guilherme: Hulkenberg is definitely the best driver in midfield this year. However, there are three aspects worth taking into consideration, that might interfere with a potential move, from my point of view.

    1. There’s nothing, and I mean nothing, whatsoever that links Hulkenberg to Red Bull. Not in his current and past part of his career. There’s nothing that doesn’t either, but I simply don’t think he’s on the Milton Keynes radar. If he was, we would have known by now. And Marko is someone I wouldn’t take too seriously…

    How many ‘outsourced’ drivers have Red Bull had since the beginning of their F1 campaign? Coulthard was there from the very beginning; Klien, Liuzzi, Doornbos, Vettel have all been sponsored drivers. The only driver who was snatched from an outside team was Webber from Williams, but that was 7 years ago, back when Red Bull were nothing but solid midfielders and when Torro Rosso and their Young Driver Programme were just in their incipient phase. Bar the fact that Webber’s roots can be traced back to Jaguar right before it was taken over by Mateschitz. So unlike Hulkenberg, he was on their radar before, for sure.

    2. Imagine the blow Red Bull’s Young Driver Programme would take if they were to decide on Hulkenberg. Not promoting from within would render all their efforts for the past five seasons absolutely pointless, and would translate into accepting the fact that their academy hasn’t really managed to produce any decent talent since Vettel. Massive amounts of money and resources as well as the costs of running / supporting a second team in F1, thrown out the window. Gone. I’ll bet anything on the fact that Mateschitz won’t let this happen. Webber’s replacement has to be either a world champion, someone who they can put on the same level as Vettel (Raikkonen), or has to be promoted internally.

    3. Related to my second point, I truly think Webber’s Red Bull seat has Antonio Felix Da Costa’s name written all over it. The kid definitely looks as close as the Red Bull’s Young Driver Programme can come in providing them with ‘a new Vettel’ and I’m 100% sure that’s what they are preparing him for, right now. A championship won in Formula Renault 3.5 this year, a full season with Torro Rosso in 2014 and he might make the jump to the mother-team in 2015, I reckon, if not earlier. Theoretically that leaves a one-season gap in the line-up for Red Bull, for which they might take a compromise solution – a known quantity driver who is capable of bringing home the surplus of points needed in order to challenge for the WCC and also a driver who is willing to / desperate enough to sign a one-season contract with them – and that solution’s name might be Ricciardo.

    Piotr Koteryl

    Okay…here’s my ‘Silly Season’ for 2014:

    Red Bull Racing
    Red Bull narrowly beat Ferrari and Lotus to win the 2013 World Constructor’s Championship after a concerted effort improves the car and its competitiveness late in the year. Mark Webber announces after the summer break that he will leave the team to race in the World Endurance Championship – an announcement which causes a huge stir in the driver market. Many names are put forward, but eventually, the position goes to Jean-Eric Vergne, who outperforms his Toro Rosso in 2013 with strong finishes towards the end of the season, sufficiently impressing the squad at Milton Keynes to land himself the coveted position alongside the now four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel.
    1. Sebastian Vettel – DEU
    2. Jean-Eric Vergne – FRA

    Scuderia Ferrari
    Ferrari’s strong start to the season does not fade, and they are consistently in the fight for the WCC, with regular podium finishes for both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, but with no shortage of team orders to put Alonso in the hunt for the title. Massa decides to call time on his F1 career after being made to play second fiddle for yet another year, and decides to look into IndyCar racing with Tony Kanaan’s team. This produces another scramble for the position, with many famous and not-so-famous names being touted as Massa’s replacement. Eventually, Maranello announces that the driver to replace Massa would be Nico Hülkenberg whose year at Sauber was deeply impressive.
    3. Fernando Alonso – ESP
    4. Nico Hülkenberg – DEU

    Lotus F1 Team
    2013 is a year of contrasts for the Lotus team. Kimi Raikkonen performs very strongly throughout the year, finishing in second place in the WDC by two points. Romain Grosjean, however, despite a clean start to the season, has a very quiet run of things, failing to really make the most of a lot of opportunities that are given to him. It is announced after the final race that he is to be replaced by the returning Robert Kubica. Kubica feels like 2014 may be more a year for him to ‘get his eye in’ to F1 again, but the fire is most certainly still there.
    5. Kimi Raikkonen – FIN
    6. Robert Kubica – POL

    Mercedes AMG F1
    Strong performances for both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the start of the season begin to fade away as the Brackley team, no matter how hard they try, fail to keep up the development of their car to match their opponents. The team finishes the season fourth in the Constructor’s Championship – a position higher than in 2012, and one they intend to advance from in 2014. As such, they announce early on that they are keeping their lineup as it is.
    7. Nico Rosberg – DEU
    8. Lewis Hamilton – GBR

    TELMEX McLaren F1 Team
    With Vodafone’s sponsorship of the Woking squad running out at the end of 2013, Carlos Slim’s TELMEX company (who sponsor Perez and Gutierrez) takes over title sponsorship of the McLaren team. 2013 drivers Button and Perez are retained to give a sense of consistency at the team, and to allow for the team to make the best of the 2014 rule changes with an established pairing.
    9. Jenson Button – GBR
    10. Sergio Perez – MEX

    Sauber F1 Team
    Thanks partially to Hülkenburg’s performance, and also to an improving Gutierrez, Sauber ended the season just ten points below McLaren. With Hülkenburg leaving for Ferrari, the Sauber seat begins to look more and more desirable for drivers up and down the market. In the end, as a semi-customer of Ferrari, Sauber choose the Ferrari-backed Jules Bianchi (who outperforms the Marussia to score the first point of any of the ‘new teams’) to join Gutierrez for 2014. The Hinwil squad once again look to build on their position, and with the new engine and technical formulae, they expect to be a force to be reckoned with.
    11. Esteben Gutierrez – MEX
    12. Jules Bianchi – FRA

    Scuderia Toro Rosso
    Jean-Eric Vergne had a storming season with the Faenza squad – so much so, that he earned himself a place in the Red Bull senior team. Daniel Ricciardo on the other hand, did not. The Red Bull Junior programme is full of drivers just champing at the bit to have a go in F1, so it is hardly surprising when the team announce that Ricciardo will not be racing for the team in 2014. Nor is it surprising that rising superstar Antonio Felix da Costa is signed for the team. Brazilian Felipe Nasr is also signed, much to the relief of Brazilian F1 fans, who very nearly thought they would be unrepresented in 2014.
    14. Antonio Felix da Costa – POR
    15. Felipe Nasr – BRA

    Force India
    The Silverstone-based squad really began to struggle towards the end of the season, often losing places to Williams, Toro Rosso, and on one occasion, Marussia! Paul di Resta and Vijay Mallya come to agree that it is probably for the best that he moves on to pastures new. He rejoins DTM with one of the Mercedes teams. Adrian Sutil takes over as lead driver for the team, while Mercedes recommend one of their FR3.5 drivers Sam Bird to take the second seat.
    16. Adrian Sutil – DEU
    17. Sam Bird – GBR

    Williams F1 Team
    Williams were entrenched in a three-way battle in 2013 between themselves, Force India and Toro Rosso, and came out of it in the worst condition. However, they have to look beyond this to 2014, where much of their development focus has been directed. Due to political circumstances in Venezuela, PDVSA remove their sponsorship from the team, which also means that Pastor Maldonado is no longer able to race for them. Fans of Williams do not mourn his departure, as he ended the season with less than ten points. Valtteri Bottas on the other hand, impressed the team in his rookie year, regularly outperforming his more experienced team-mate. It is announced a month before the season begins that a large amount of Russian sponsorship has been provided for the Williams team, and Bottas will be joined by returning Russian driver Vitaly Petrov.
    18. Valtteri Bottas – FIN
    19. Vitaly Petrov – RUS

    Marussia F1 Team
    As previously mentioned, Marussia are the first of the back-marking teams to score points, and manage to finish the season well ahead of their chief rivals, Caterham. However, the loss of their points scorer, Jules Bianchi, means that they look for a new driver. However, Bianchi’s departure was not without benefit to the team, as they guarantee themselves Ferrari engines, at least until 2015 for letting him race there. Max Chilton‘s father buys into the team, bringing them extra sponsorship money, and they are able to land themselves Monegasque driver Stefano Coletti who performed well in GP2 in 2013.
    20. Max Chilton – GBR
    21. Stefano Coletti – MON

    Caterham F1 Team
    After looking for so long as though they were the strongest of the ‘new teams’, Caterham really fall behind in 2013. Charles Pic provides a ray of hope for the team with a couple of 11th-placed finishes during the year, but his team-mate Giedo van der Garde is labelled as ‘hopeless’ by many. He is quickly and quietly dropped at the end of the season in favour of American Alexander Rossi who performs well in GP2. With the new regulations somewhat levelling the playing field, Caterham hope to take full advantage of this and shake off the ghosts of 2013.
    22. Charles Pic – FRA
    23. Alexander Rossi – USA

    Scorpion Racing
    A brand new entry, who had looked at taking over HRT’s position, but did not do so with enough time, enter the fray for 2014, hoping, like Caterham, that they might be able to capitalise on the new rules to shorten the ground they have to make up. They have some rich backers, so they are able to tempt Kamui Kobayashi back from his exile in the WEC to race with them, whilst offering a pay-driver position to Ma Qinghua.
    24. Kamui Kobayashi – JAP
    25. Ma Qinghua – CHI


    Sorry but Kubica would be lucky to test an F1 car in 2014, let alone get a race contract.

    Felipe Bomeny

    The focus of the silly season is now Romain Grosjean after an erratic weekend in Monaco. The Frenchman seems to have lost some confidence and is looking weaker alongside a resurgent Kimi Raikkonen. While many rumours suggest Red Bull will sign the Finn, it is still too early in the season to know for certain.

    A major variable in Red Bull’s selection of Vettel’s teammate is that of the Toro Rosso duel. As of Monaco, Ricciardo holds the upper hand by two points. Helmut Marko himself has said Ricciardo is currently the better driver because Vergne is “too impulsive”. However, Vergne put in a fine performance at Monaco. It is still too early to determine who will emerge victorious within the teammate battle, and if Ricciardo or Vergne deliver enough, they might be promoted to RBR.

    Grosjean carries significant sponsorship from Total, which keeps him tied to the Lotus team. Should he continue his crashing antics, Total could drop him because his image would not correspond with the brand’s safe driving program. Jean-Eric Vergne, a fellow Frenchman, could be an interesting option should both Grosjean and Raikkonen leave. Felipe Nasr is an attractive candidate due to his hefty Brazilian sponsorship and strong GP2 record this year. Considering Lotus’ financial woes, the Enstone team might have to resort to well-funded drivers.

    Williams is close to announcing Mercedes power. This follows after the team’s new partnership with Kazakh consortium TAK. Interestingly enough, Daniel Juncadella is a Mercedes Junior driver and carries Kazakh sponsorship. While he needs another year in DTM, could we see the Spaniard in a Williams-Mercedes car in 2015?

    Antonio Nartea

    Just a couple of thoughts @portugoose

    While I think the whole Grosjean affair is just a lot of noise for nothing and that he will confortably see this season through along with his Total sponsorship and a nod of approval from Renault, simply because Lotus don’t have a better option at the moment, I do agree with you on Nasr – to me he’s the most likely candidate for a seat with the Enstone team next year. He’s definitely got something to show for and with his Maldonado-style financial backing, he could prove to be an asset to exploit for Lotus, especially if they’ll still have Kimi to rely on as their first driver next year.

    +1 for Juncadella as well. If the whole Williams-Mercedes-TAK affair falls into place, Juncadella looks like the missing puzzle piece they will be looking for. Even if Maldonado gets a contract-extension for 2014 (which I don’t believe will come) I find it hard to believe he will still be around the paddock come 2015, so Bottas-Juncadella might look like a feasible combination.

    As for Red Bull, if Webber leaves and they choose to promote internally, it’s Ricciardo who’s gonna get that seat, not Vergne. Vergne might get another shot with STR for one year alongside Da Costa just so he can provide an experience-landmark for Antonio’s performance, and…just because there’s no one else to promote from the Junior Team right now, as Sainz Jr. and Kvyat are both about 3 years too young for F1 and they don’t look so promising in GP3 so far.

    Anyway, good points in that post!


    No matter what happens, Frijns needs a seat next year.


    @roald I wouldn’t put Sauber past a Frijns-Bianchi combination (especially if Esteban proves to be more of a liability than an asset as this season goes on). On the other hand, Sauber wouldn’t want to have two new drivers in the team for the 2nd straight year, especially if those two don’t really like each other (see FR3.5 Barcelona finale 2012).

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