Silly season: 2014 F1 driver market

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    1. Fernando Alonso
    2. Felipe Massa

    Red Bull
    1. Sebastian Vettel
    2. Kimi Raikkonen

    Webber to Porsche and Raikkonen basically returns to Red Bull, after driving for Citroen Junior team, sponsored by Red Bull at WRC.

    1. Lewis Hamilton
    2. Nico Rosberg

    1. Nico Hulkenberg
    2. Davide Valsecchi

    Hulkenberg finally gets a good car, while Valsecchi has been driving for Lotus since the Belgian GP of 2013.

    1. Jenson Button
    2. Sergio Perez

    Force India
    1. Adrian Sutil
    2. Paul di Resta

    Toro Rosso
    1. Jean-Eric Vergne
    2. Daniel Ricciardo

    1. Esteban Gutierrez
    2. Robin Frijns

    Frijns finally finds a seat.

    1. Vitaly Petrov
    2. Valterri Bottas

    1. Charles Pic
    2. Heikki Kovalainen

    Kovalainen returns, while van der Garde goes in sports cars.

    1. Jules Bianchi
    2. Max Chilton

    Prisoner Monkeys

    Rumors up and down pit lane suggest Sauber is up for sale. Peter Sauber has admitted that suppliers haven’t been paid, but denies that staff have not been paid. Several parties are said to be vying for purchase of the team, including a billionaire Russian who owns SMP Bank (who sponsor Comtec Racing in Formula Renault 3.5).

    I can’t verify this, though – my source is F1SA, and they recently changed their format so that you have to log into the site to read the articles. I can’t find any way to register (and I’m not sure registrations are open), so I can’t read the articles myself.


    @prisoner-monkeys blockquote>including a billionaire Russian who owns SMP Bank (who sponsor Comtec Racing in Formula Renault 3.5) Just what we need…Mikhail Aleshin or Daniil Move in F1..

    Prisoner Monkeys

    @wsrgo – Or, you know, Sergey Sirotkin. Because despite a few mechanical problems, he’s actually shown plenty of potential.

    Besides, where is it written that Russian investment in Sauber equals a Russian driver in the team? Russians bought Marussia from Virgin, and have so far not run a Russian driver. An Indian bought Force India from Spyker, and has so far not run an Indian driver. Malaysians heavily invested in Caterham, and the team is yet to field a Malaysian driver.

    The only person in pit lane who puts any value in the nationality of a driver when selecting their driver line-up is Eric Boullier, who insists on having a French driver in Lotus.

    Iestyn Davies

    And that is because of Total sponsorship – I think that if Grosjean was dropped (unlikely I think for now), it would be for JEV as has been speculated on Sky UK. So this raises another possibility – Vettel/Raikkonen, JEV at Lotus, perhaps alongside Hulkenberg and Ricciardo/Felix da Costa at Toro Rosso.

    A shame Sauber is in this situation, I think they would be a lot stronger with a Perez/Gutierrez combo and all the Mexican money (but McLaren saw some cash links added in and took it. A shame for Hulkenberg, although this year’s car is not much better than where he is anyway). Sirotkin, given some more time in FR 3.5 and GP2/3 could be a good hope for Russia in the future. I wonder if we’ll see a return from the depths of Petrov! Petrov/Gutierrez would really take some time to get into gear! 2015 I’m thinking! Or, if Nicolas Todt gets involved, Calado/Gutierrez reunited!

    Hulkenberg in a McLaren – race winner. Perez in a McLaren – podium contender. At least for now though, if Perez blitzes Button next year then I shall really eat my words.. –>!

    I think it all depends on what Red Bull wants – genuine competition is Raikkonen. Safe number 2 is Ricciardo. His career development so far really reminds me of Webber, with the exception that he is very team and PR friendly – I doubt he’ll disobey a team order to follow Vettel home.

    So I see it so far as:
    Red Bull – Vettel, Ricciardo (Buemi)
    Mercedes – Hamilton, Rosberg (Bird, Hartley)
    Ferrari – Alonso, Hulkenberg (Kobayashi, Marciello)
    Lotus – Raikkonen, Grosjean (Valsecchi)
    McLaren – Button, Perez (Magnussen, Vandoorne)
    Force India – Di Resta, Sutil (Calado or Nasr, Daly)
    Toro Rosso – Vergne, Felix da Costa (Sainz Jr)
    Sauber – Bianchi, Gutierrez (Frijns or Calado) – I hope Bianchi gets this chance – likely he’ll stay at Marussia..
    Williams – Maldonado, Bottas (Nasr or Abt)
    Caterham – Kovalainen, Pic (Rossi)
    Marussia – Razia or Petrov, Chilton (Ellinas) – Could also put Wickens here, if Mercedes are serious about young driver development. Else staying in DTM.
    Pirelli – Di Grassi, Alguersuari

    Contenders for seats – Kobayashi, Wickens, Coletti; Senna, VDG, Leimer, Ericsson to move to a different type of racing. Evans to do well in GP2 2014, and start getting linked to F1 teams, perhaps RB testing, with Webber’s help. I would have GP2 champion Coletti as an outsider for Toro Rosso, but once you’re off the Marko list – consider yourself to have 0 chance of a drive with him!


    A month on, here’s the second version of my guesses.

    Red Bull-Renault
    1. Sebastian Vettel
    2. Kimi Raikkonen

    3. Fernando Alonso
    4. Felipe Massa (It looks like Felipe will stick around, despite his best efforts to throw this away)

    5. Lewis Hamilton
    6. Nico Rosberg

    7. Nico Hulkenberg (With the Ferrari option dimming, this is his best shot)
    8. Jean-Eric Vergne (I still think Grosjean won’t be renewed for a 3rd season, and Total are French)

    9. Jenson Button
    10. Sergio Perez

    Force India-Mercedes
    11. Paul di Resta (Despite his upturn in form and issues with the team, there’s just no better seat open)
    12. Adrian Sutil

    Toro Rosso-Renault
    14. Daniel Ricciardo
    15. Antonio Felix da Costa

    16. Jules Bianchi (Ferrari money always helps – an ART takeover will all but guarantee this seat for him)
    17. Robin Frijns (Esteban’s poor form may lead them to take a risk on pairing him with his FR35 rival)

    18. Pastor Maldonado (Williams don’t want to let him go – and his PDVSA money)
    19. Valtteri Bottas

    20. Charles Pic
    21. Heikki Kovalainen (VDG just isn’t good enough)

    22. Max Chilton (Despite poor form, Marussia need the money)
    23. Kevin Magnussen

    Wildcards (those that may yet find spots on this grid):
    – Romain Grosjean
    – Esteban Gutierrez
    – Daniel Juncadella
    – Stoffel Vandoorne
    – Stefano Coletti
    – Felipe Nasr
    – Sam Bird


    @prisoner-monkeys Sirotkin’s sponsor is Lukoil, not SMP. I spoke about Aleshin and Move not just because they are Russians, but because they are sponsored by SMP as well. Aleshin’s Tech1 looks more like the Comtec of Move and Foresti, rather than his teammate Melker’s car.
    But yeah, certainly there is no nationality obligation here. Not every team is like Trident, Koiranen or Jenzer in GP3…

    Prisoner Monkeys

    @wsrgo – Lukoil and SMP are two entirely different companies. Lukoil is an oil producer; SMP is a bank. As far as I can tell, neither has interests in the other’s industries.


    @prisoner-monkeys That is exactly what I said, which is why I don’t consider Sirotkin to be one of the favourites for the Sauber seat..


    id have to say:

    Di resta



    Force India

    Toro Rosso
    felix da costa/ Carlos sainz/ Daniel kyvat

    gutierrez (for the money)


    pic (think he is contracted but personally id change him) / rossi/valsechi



    Red Bull:
    Sebastian Vettel
    Kimi Raikkonen

    Lewis Hamilton
    Nico Rosberg

    Fernando Alonso
    Jules Bianchi

    Romain Grosjean
    Nico Hulkenberg

    Force India:
    Adrian Sutil
    Paul di Resta

    Jenson Button
    Sergio Perez

    Toro Rosso:
    Daniel Ricciardo
    Antonio Felix da Costa

    Jean-Eric Vergne
    Robin Frijns

    Valtteri Bottas
    Pastor Maldonado

    Rodolfo Gonzalez
    Max Chilton

    Charles Pic
    Heikki Kovalainen


    This list is a bit far out, but I think this would be extremely interesting
    Red Bull: Vettel Vergne
    Vettel has signed until 2015, and Vergnes performances at Monaco and Canada were exemplary

    Ferrari: Hülkenberg Alonso
    Alonso I think will stay on until 2016, and Hülkenberg is such a talented driver that Ferrari will need him to take points off Alonsos rivals, which he will be able to do. He’s also good enough to keep Alonso on his toes, so that would be extremely interesting.

    Mercedes: Rosberg Hamilton
    Rosberg and Hamilton appear to have a good owrking relationship and they’re both immensely quick

    Lotus: Raikkonen Valsecchi
    Raikkonen will resign for Lotus, and Valsecchi will get promoted to full time race driver after Grosjea leaves for the world of sports car racing due to inconsistencies in his performance.

    Force India: Bird Sutil
    Mercedes will try to promote Bird, and Di resta will be comprehensively outperformed by Sutil over a season (even including his retirements early on in the season)

    Mclaren: Button Leimer
    Button will stay with Mclaren, and I think Leimer would be amazing in an F1 car, as he’s immensely experienced, and I like him because he’s Swiss

    Toro Rosso: da Costa Ricciardo
    Ricciardo will stay at Toro Rosso until Kimi needs replacing at Lotus, and da Costa will step up to fill Vergnes seat after making up for his performances in FR3.5 early on in the season

    Williams: Bottas Maldonado
    Bottas will not go; the team adore him, and maldonado brings much needed funds, as well as being exceptionally quick

    Caterham: Kovalainen Pic
    Caterham will realise their mistake in letting heikki go and they’ll send Van der garde off to the FiA WEC

    Marussia: Bianchi Coletti
    Bianchi will stay due to Ferrari wanting him to gain more experience in an F1 car, and it’d be interesting to see what Coletti can do in a backmarker team

    Prisoner Monkeys

    I’ll see your crazy and raise you …

    Red Bull Racing (Infiniti)
    1 – Sebastian Vettel
    2 – Daniel Ricciardo

    Red Bull make the calculated decision to take Ricciardo over Raikkonen, reasoning that Ricciardo is strong enough to help them win the World Constructors’ Championship, but not so strong that he threatens Vettel in the World Drivers’ Championship.

    Scuderia Ferrari
    3 – Fernando Alonso
    4 – Nico Hulkenberg

    The under-performing Felipe Massa is released from the team in favour of Nico Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg had been consistently linked to a mid-season take-over of the seat, but only joined the team after the 2013 season had ended. This fuels speculation that Ferrari had shifted development away from the F138 to concentrate on 2014.

    Mercedes AMG
    5 – Nico Rosberg
    6 – Lewis Hamilton

    Both Hamilton and Rosberg are on multi-year contracts, and so there are no changes in their line-up. Controversy ensues when Rosberg is given the number 5 despite Hamilton finishing ahead of him in the 2013 championship standings, redefining a slow news day until Hamilton reveals he asked for the number 6.

    Enstone (Renault)
    7 – Kimi Raikkonen
    8 – Paul di Resta

    To everyone’s relief, The Team Formerly Known As Lotus give up on the Lotus name, rebanding themselves as Enstone. They are quick to secure Kimi Raikkonen, but Romain Grosjean is let go. Paul di Resta lobbies hard for and wins the second Enstone seat, under the belief that the team will switch to Honda power in 2015. Honda then announce that they will back Sauber instead.

    Force India (Mercedes)
    9 – Adrian Sutil
    10 – Valtteri Bottas

    With McLaren switching to Honda in 2015, Force India become the Mercedes B-team. Sutil’s presence and engine subsidy mean that di Resta’s leverage within the team is gone, and he wisely seeks out another team. Toto Wolff uses his position as a mercedes director to get Valtteri Bottas promoted to Force India, in exchange for an engine subsidy for Williams.

    McLaren (Mercedes)
    11 – Jenson Button
    12 – Sergio Perez

    With McLaren’s drivers and long-term future secured, the team stakes their title hopes on some behnd-the-scenes changes, such as Sauber’s Matt Morris. They become a fan favourite again with a Yardley-inspired livery for 2014.

    Scuderia Toro Rosso (Renault)
    14 – Jean-Eric Vergne
    15 – Antonio Felix da Costa

    Ricciardo is promoted to Red Bull on a one-year deal. Rather than replacing him entirely, Vergne is kept within Toro Rosso to act as a yardstick to measure incoming rookie da Costa against, and to also to give Red Bull more options if both Ricciardo and da Costa falter.

    Buran (Ferrari)
    16 – Jules Bianchi
    17 – Sergey Sirotkin

    Facing an uncertain future, Sauber F1 decide to retire Peter Sauber’s name until they get stability. They find investment from Russia and rename themselves “Buran F1” (Russian for “blizzard”). Jules Bianchi is promoted from Marussia, and paired with Russian driver Sirotkin.

    Williams F1 (Astana)
    18 – Pastor Maldonado
    19 – Daniel Juncadella

    With Toto Wolff moving Bottas to Force India, Williams take on the Astana-backed Daniel Juncadella. Astana originally seek to rename the team entirely, but instead reband the Mercedes engines in their image, and have the team register under a Kazakhstani racing licence.

    Marussia (Ferrari)
    20 – Max Chilton
    21 – Tio Ellinas

    Chilton’s money cements his position within the team, whilst tenth place in the World Constructors’ Championship (and an offer under the Concorde Agreement) means that Marussia can afford to take on GP3 Series champion Ellinas.

    Caterham (Alpine)
    22 – Felipe Nasr
    23 – Kevin Korjus

    Caterham finally see sense and decide to get rid of pay drivers Pic and van der Garde. GP2 Series champion Nasr fills the void, and while he brings a healthy bank balance with him, his potential is almost unrivalled. GP3 Series runner-up Kevin Korjus finally makes his Formula 1 debut in the second seat.


    They find investment from Russia and rename themselves “Buran F1″

    While this belongs deep into the fantasy realm, having a F1 team sharing the same name as a space program would be awesome. However when you consider that said space program was decomissioned due to lack on funds and its only completed spacecraft was destroyed in a hangar collapse (due to poor maintenence), it would be quite the bad omen, wouldn’t it?

    Prisoner Monkeys

    I’m choosing to ignore that part of history, and instead concentrate on how awesome the Buran Project was. Also, “Buran” is one of the few words I know in Russian that would be fitting for a racing team, and of those, it is the most fitting. And I couldn’t use a word that described the team as Russian (a la Force India), as that’s what “Marussia” already does.

    It’s not entirely fantasy, either. Sauber are believed to be looking for investors and/or sponsors, and one of the leading candidates is said to be the Russian billionaire who owns SMP Bank (who sponsor Comtec in Formula Renault 3.5).

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