Silly Season: 2015 F1 Driver Market

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    Lucas Wilson

    Now everythings been confirmed. What are the chances of Alonso to McLaren? Will we see any more shake ups in the top teams for 2015?

    Red Bull-Renault

    1. Sebastian Vettel – Will probably see no reason to leave Red Bull, even if they mess up 2014.
    2. Daniel Riccardo – Probably will be given 2 years at least alongside Vettel.


    1. Lewis Hamilton – May have a chance for a championship in 2014, signed until 2015.
    2. Nico Rosberg – Unknown if he is contracted in 2015, 2014 will be crucial to see how he performs.


    1. Kimi Raikonnen – Will probably see out his final year in 2015.
    2. Nico Hulkenberg – Hopefully will get a drive at the Scuderia as he has waited a long time for a top team.


    1. Kevin Magnussen – If he performs well, I can see Button being ousted and Kevin being given the top spot.
    2. Fernado Alonso – I feel another championship-less year for Alonso could send him back to McLaren.

    Lotus?-Renault – Perhaps will not run under the Lotus name if they survive until 2015.

    1. Pastor Maldonado – Can see him being kept in for monitary reasons.
    2. Romain Grosjean – I still can’t see him getting a drive anywhere else for 2015.

    Force India-Mercedes

    1. Sergio Perez – May be on a multi-year contract.
    2. Valterri Bottas – A couple of strong performances could move him further up the grid order.


    1. Sergey Sirotkin – Gets his superlicence, allowed to race in 2015.
    2. Jules Bianchi – Moves up to Sauber as part of Ferraris plan to have him in the Scuderia in the next few years.

    Toro Rosso-Renault

    1. Daniil Kyvat – Stays on at TR as part of the RB young driver programme.
    2. António Félix da Costa – Highly rated Da Costa will get his chance to shine in 2015.


    1. Stoffel Vandoorne – Will be placed at Caterham by McLaren.
    2. Marcus Ericsson – Can see him being kept because of sponsorship.


    1. Kamui Kobayashi – Could he end up at Marrussia because of his Ferrari connections?
    2. Max Chilton – Unfortunately I can see him staying as long as he provides money.

    Haas-Ferrari – The most likely of the ‘new entry applicants’ if it goes forward.

    1. Alexander Rossi – Perhaps they might succumb to putting an American driver in the car.
    2. unknown.

    Lucas Wilson

    lol, missed out Williams.


    Felipe Massa – Final year for Felipe?

    Piotr Koteryl

    I love Silly Seasons – in fact, the main reason I joined F1F was to comment on the 2011 Silly Season (I believe).

    Early indications for me:
    Infiniti Red Bull Racing – Renault
    – Sebastian Vettel: Contracted until the end of 2015. After that, who knows?
    – Daniel Ricciardo: Likely to have second year against VET after a year of ‘settling in’.

    Scuderia Ferrari
    – Kimi Räikkönen: With the well-documented forecasts of frictions between ALO and RAI coming to pass, the former leaves to join McLaren in the hope of better things.
    – Nico Hülkenberg: Finally gets his break with a big team.

    Mercedes AMG F1 Team
    – Lewis Hamilton: No real change – still feels Mercedes the strongest bet for Championship success.
    – Nico Rosberg: Likewise.

    McLaren F1 Team – Honda
    – Fernando Alonso: As predicted, he gives in to Ron Dennis’ cajoling and returns to McLaren.
    – Kevin Magnussen: Having impressed in his first year, Magnussen carries on with the team.

    Telmex Force India F1 Team – Mercedes
    – Sergio Pérez: Bringing title sponsorship to FI can only be a good thing for Pérez – working with Hülkenberg in 2014 does a lot of good for the team and for himself, too.
    – Esteban Gutiérrez: With Carlos Slim’s money coming in, and with his sponsors wishing to advance Mexican motorsport further, GUT joins the team.

    PDVSA Lotus GP – Renault
    – Romain Grosjean: The stronger of the two drivers in 2014 – he is beginning to look a little restless in the team, however.
    – Pastor Maldonado: Bringing title sponsorship, Maldonado carries on with Lotus.

    Sauber F1 Team – Ferrari
    – Jules Bianchi: A completely new line up in 2015, after SUT is given the boot. Bianchi gets promoted by Ferrari and brings an engine subsidy.
    – Sergey Sirotkin: With the departure of Telmex money, Sirotkin brings in some much-needed sponsorship, and hopes to make his mark on the team.

    Williams F1 Team – Mercedes
    – Felipe Massa: With his enthusiasm for the sport fading, Massa makes this his ‘make-or-break’ year.
    – Valtteri Bottas: With the midfield having become a lot closer in 2014, Bottas impresses again, but is unable to find a gap in a higher team, therefore he remains with Williams for 2015.

    Scuderia Toro Rosso – Renault
    – Daniil Kvyat: Impresses in his rookie year, and shows great potential.
    – Antonio Félix da Costa: Finally gets his long-awaited break in F1…time to live up to the hype!

    Marussia F1 Team – Ferrari
    – Kamui Kobayashi: (May end up at Marussia because of Ferrari links – also fast and fun driver who can bring in sponsorship).
    – Max Chilton OR another driver who can bring stronger sponsorship and race pace.

    Caterham F1 Team – Honda
    – Marcus Ericsson: Kept by Caterham for second year because he brings sponsorship. Also, a second year may offer him the time to shine.
    – Stoffel Vandoorne: The much-vaunted Vandoorne is placed at Caterham by McLaren and brings with him an engine deal with Honda as a sweetener.

    LIKELY: Haas GP – Ferrari
    – Fabio Leimer: Yet another strong season in GP2 brings him into F1 with Haas.
    – Alexander Rossi: Has a strong 2014 in GP2…and he’s American, so that kind of helps, too…

    Another team? I don’t know yet – it’s a bit too early to say, really.

    R.J. O’Connell

    Leimer can’t defend his title in GP2 this season.

    Sticking only to Haas F1 Team next year, as I’ll assume they’ll beat out Stefan and Kolles, they have plenty of routes they can go to select a North American driver.
    Esteban Gutierrez has cash if they need it, and I have a feeling he’ll improve a lot in 2014 like Perez did.
    Of course there’s Alexander Rossi, who will be a top-5 driver in GP2 this season and is from the Good Ole U.S. of A.
    Robert Wickens (DTM) should be on the shortlist, even if he’ll be 26 at some point next year – he has the resumé to be an F1 driver.
    Maybe they’ll take a run at a younger talent in Indycar, like a James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden, or Conor Daly?

    Piotr Koteryl

    Whoops…I forgot about that! Thanks, @rjoconnell! And that’s true – I’d love to see people make the move from IndyCar to F1.


    Red Bull
    1. S Vettel
    2. D Ricciardo

    3. F Alonso
    4. K Raikkonen

    5. L Hamilton
    6. N Rosberg

    7. J Button
    8. K Magnussen

    Force India
    9. N Hulkenberg
    10. S Perez

    11. R Grosjean
    12. P Maldonado

    14. V Bottas
    15. F Massa

    16. E Gutierrez
    17. J Bianchi

    Toro Rosso
    18. J Vergne
    19. D Kvyat

    20. M Chilton
    21. S Vandoorne

    22. K Kobayashi
    23. M Ericsson


    Mercedes AMG Petronas
    1. Hamilton
    6. Rosberg

    Infiniti Red Bull Racing – Renault
    5. Vettel
    3. Ricciardo

    Scuderia Ferrari
    14. Alonso
    7. Raikkonen

    Sony McLaren Honda
    20. Magnussen
    27. Hulkenberg

    Sahara Force India – Mercedes
    11. Perez
    77. Bottas

    PDVSA Lotus – Renault
    8. Grosjean
    13. Maldonado

    Banco do Brasil Williams – Mercedes
    19. Massa

    Sauber – Ferrari
    99. Sutil
    17. Bianchi

    Scuderia Toro Rosso – Renault
    26. Kvyat

    Caterham – Renault
    9. Ericsson

    Marussia – Ferrari
    21. Gutierrez

    Iestyn Davies

    To have a go:

    Ferrari – Alonso, Raikkonen (de la Rosa, Marciello)

    [Marciello prepping for 2016 Marussia seat with de la Rosa’s testing help]
    Mercedes – Hamilton, Rosberg (Di Resta, Bird)

    [Di Resta the new Davidson, hoping for a chance in a top car, Bird now Paffett]
    Red Bull – Vettel, Ricciardo (Buemi, Felix da Costa)

    [Depends on when Vettel moves on, if he does of course]
    McLaren – Button, Magnussen (Vandoorne, Paffett/Turvey)

    [If Kevin gets a second chance, Vandoorne gets testing runs]
    Lotus – Grosjean, Maldonado (Vergne/Pic, Sorensen)

    [Vergne here if he thrives with the new rules]
    Force India – Hulkenberg, Perez (Gutierrez)

    [Esteban lined up to replace Hulk if he moves on up]
    Sauber – Sutil, Van der Garde (Sirotkin)

    [Money wins out, VDG over Sirotkin, who gets FP1s with Sutil’s car]
    Williams – Massa, Bottas (Nasr)

    [Nasr waiting to replace Massa when he retires, continuing the Brazilian sponsorship]
    Toro Rosso – Kvyat, Sainz Jr (Gasly)

    [Possibly Gasly with the second seat, should he beat Sainz Jr or his backing not win out]
    Caterham – Kobayashi, Frijns (Rossi)

    Marussia – Bianchi, Chilton (Gonzalez)

    [Depends on McLaren wanting to get Stoffel in F1 or not. Ellinas with a testing role]
    Haas* – Rossi, Daly (Patrick)

    [All-American line up, unless someone steps forward with backing to claim a seat e.g. Gutierrez]

    I expect the big changes to be 2016, after Honda have come in and gotten McLaren competitive again. But, a few could happen in 2015, should some big players be ousted/retire (Alonso, Raikkonen, Button, Massa) or money or backing run out (Sutil, Gutierrez, Vergne, Pic, Kobayashi, Ericsson, Chilton etc.).

    Alonso to McLaren would really shake things up, moving up the Ferrari drivers, or Hulkenberg, along with other juniors and the midfield.

    Ben Needham

    I personally don’t buy the prospect of Alonso in the McLaren for 2015. I think we’ll see very few changes at the sharp end of the grid. Perhaps one Ferrari driver will make way for Hulkenberg if he performs well again at Force India.

    Red Bull will stick by their two drivers, unless Vettel leaves for any reason. Ricciardo will certainly be given another year. I certainly don’t see Mercedes changing their drivers or either one wanting to leave. The same is true of McLaren although Button is certainly heading towards the pipe and slippers end of his career.

    Towards the back of the grid it’s all up in the air. I can’t see anyone bar Hulkenberg moving up to the top teams. Pay drivers will likely rule the changes at the very back.

    Iestyn Davies

    Indeed. I can already see Gutierrez as the Force India reserve (following the Mexican money consolidating there, and Sauber taking VDG’s better pot of gold, with Sirotkin still as reserve until Sutil departs, so their money has time to come together while he does FP1s in 2015). When Hulk then moves on up, we could be all-Mexican at Force India.. There’s still an option of Vandoorne there, but surely McLaren can’t outbid Slim again. Ericsson could beat Kobayashi for a Caterham seat, if Kamui brings less in 2015 and was matched on pace in late 2014.

    For 2016, if Bianchi is then chosen by Ferrari then Marciello will replace him at Marussia (Kimi likely to take 2nd year option in 2015). If Hulk is chosen, Marciello comes in and Bianchi is scrambling (perhaps to Force India, who might take him above Gutierrez if they can afford it). Also, I suspect Marussia will try to keep Ellinas involved in the development of the car, behind a paying test driver (like Gonzalez). Chilton will probably keep the second seat with his sponsorships, outbidding McLaren, who may sculpt Vandoorne to replace Button in 2016.
    But, Honda usually want a star driver in the lead car…


    Something I found striking was that Robin Frijns didn’t only thank Caterham, but also thanked Renault a lot in his interviews after the Caterham announcement (particular interview is in Dutch)…

    Furthermore, Tony Fernandes mentioned him quite often in his interview with Ted Kravitz on Sky, along with a lot of praise. He even mentioned how he was contemplating giving him a 2014 seat. Does anyone else here find that interesting for the 2015 lineup? Possibly even mid 2014?

    Iestyn Davies

    Indeed, I think they will see how all 3 drivers perform in early season testing and which 2 adapt fastest. If one is flagging then they could conceivably swap them around. Tony knows Frijns could do a Bianchi and secure them 10th place early on potentially. Kamui was inconsistent in 2012, while Ericsson needs to recapture his sparkling form from earlier in his career (pre-Brawn F1 test). I didn’t notice the Renault praise, maybe they helped get him in there (or picked him up possibly for the future?).

    Prisoner Monkeys

    Fernando Alonso / Nico Hulkenberg

    2014 is the battle for Ferrari’s soul, with di Montezemolo backing Alonso and Domenicali supporting Raikkonen. Alonso wins the title, shoring up di Montezemolo’s control, and both Raikkonen and Domenicali let go. Nico Hulkenberg is brought in to fill the vacancy.

    Lewis Hamilton / Nico Rosberg

    Where other teams go through a tumultuous off-season, Mercedes prize stability, and keep Hamilton and Rosberg.

    Jenson Button / Kevin Magnussen

    McLaren are left with some difficult decisions, with Button, Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne all proving worthwhile candidates. Ron Dennis keeps Button and Magnussen, and negotiates a deal for Vandoorne to be placed elsewhere with a proviso that he can be recalled at any time.

    Sebastian Vettel / Daniel Ricciardo

    Infiniti and Renault buy Red Bull from Dietrich Mateschitz, with Red Bull remaining title sponsor. Ricciardo is given a second season, but the team makes it clear they are expecting a title challenge.

    Romain Grosjean / Stoffel Vandoorne

    Genii Capital acquire defunct car manufacturer De Tomaso, and form an alliance with Honda to become a customer team. Pastor Maldonado is let go, and quickly replaced by Stoffel Vandoorne.

    Jules Bianchi / Sergey Sirotkin

    Bianchi is finally promoted to a car capable of scoring points, and partnered with Sirotkin. Sutil and Gutierrez are let go for parts unknown.

    Sergio Perez / Robin Frijns

    With Hulkenberg off to Ferrari, Vijay Mallya swoops in and picks up Robin Frijns.

    Naoki Yamamoto / Daniil Kvyat

    The second coming of Super Aguri takes over Toro Rosso after Dietrich Mateschitz sells the team. Honda place Naoki Yamamoto in one car, and wisely keep Kvyat in the other after Takuya Izawa falters in GP2.

    Valtteri Bottas / Esteban Gutierrez

    A strong second season is not enough to stop Gutierrez from being released from Sauber, but he is quickly snapped up by Williams after Felipe Massa does nothing in 2014.

    Raffaele Marciello / Pastor Maldonado

    With Bianchi off to Sauber, Ferrari place Marciello at Marussia. Max Chilton runs out of money, so the team pick up Maldonado and run out of patience.

    Kamui Kobayashi / Rio Haryanto

    Caterham decide that the best way forward is forward, and keep Kobayashi for 2015. Haryanto is drafted in off the back of a strong GP2 campaign, and money.

    Alexander Rossi / Marcus Ericsson

    Haas wins the grid entry, and deliberately play the 2015 season safe, ahead of a proper effort in 2016. Rossi and Ericsson are brought in for their knowledge and experience of the circuits.

    Robert Visoiu / Tio Ellinas

    The FIA surprise everyone by accepting two new teams, with the second being a Romanian outfit led by Colin Kolles. Visoiu is promoted early for his nationality, while Ellinas is given a chance on the back of some promising performances.

    Ben Needham

    @prisoner-monkeys, that all seems pretty feasible! I’ll have a go, but I’m not expecting a multitude of changes.

    Mercedes: Hamilton/Rosberg
    Hamilton wins the title in a very competitive Mercedes, but doesn’t embarrass Rosberg, who also stays with the team knowing that he could swoop in with a few wins and possibly a title in the coming years.

    Red Bull: Vettel/Ricciardo
    Vettel pushes the Mercedes duo but ultimately can’t prevent the title slipping from his grasp. Ricciardo pops up with the occasional podium but never challenges for wins. Is retained, but it’s made clear that he must do better.

    Ferrari: Alonso/Raikkonen
    Both drivers are retained for one final year as Raikkonen makes it known that it will be his last season. Hulkenberg is publicly announced as his replacement for 2016 before 2015 even begins.

    McLaren: Magnussen/Vandoorne
    Button is outshone by Magnussen to such an extent that there is no risk in replacing him with the promising Vandoorne. Under the charade of Button retiring through choice, he is given a well-deserved farewell at the end of the season.

    Force India: Hulkenberg/Perez
    The duo shine in 2014 with both picking up regular podiums and several victory challenges. Perez is remarkably inconsistent and they just fall below McLaren in the WCC. Perez is retained and Hulkenberg is off to Ferrari in 2016

    Williams: Massa/Bottas
    No changes after a competitive 2014.

    Lotus: Grosjean/Maldonado
    A poor 2014 is swept under the carpet as the team prepares for the new season opting for continuity after an uneventful 2014.

    Sauber: Gutierrez/Bianchi
    Sutil is unremarkable and is dropped, with Gutierrez having a strong second season. Bianchi earns a call-up to the midfield.

    The rest is based entirely on £££!


    I like to start of my silly season predictions with a Grand Prix Manager 2/Grand Prix World kind of happening. Those F1 management games were notorious for having Ferrari use Mercedes engines, Schumacher going to Sauber and Diniz joining Winfield McLaren Ford after the season the game was based on.

    Smart Red Bull Mercedes – After a lot of trouble with the Renault powerplant, they decide to move to Mercedes powerplants and get Smart sponsorship.
    Vettel – Happy with where he’s at, decides to stay.
    Hamilton – Wants to drive a Newey car, Mercedes lets him.

    Mercedes GP AMG F1 Petronas
    Nico Rosberg – Happy to stay at Mercedes
    Jenson Button – Ousted from McLaren, he moves to Mercedes, wanting to retain their engine advantage.

    Scuderia Ferrari
    Nico Hulkenberg – A victory in a Force India was enough to convince LdM of Nico’s talents, much needed after the Scuderia fired both its drivers after a disasterous 2014.
    Rafaelle Marciello – After the successes of Hamilton and Magnussen at McLaren, they decide to take a chance on the 2014 GP2 champion.

    Playstation DeTomaso Honda – Sony decides to sponsor both Honda powered teams, as Genii get into trouble with Lotus.
    Romain Grosjean – Now considered the saviour of Enstone, his contract now reads ‘for life or until Genii runs out of money’.
    Takuya Izawa – Read: Honda engine.

    Honda Xperia McLaren Sony decides to sponsor McLaren using their mobile phone division.
    Kevin Magnussen – Won races, not going anywhere else.
    Stoffel Vandoorne – After missing out on the GP2 title by a thread, McLaren moves him into F1 following the succes of Magnussen.

    Telmex Force Mexico Mercedes Malya runs out of money, Slim jr. steps in.
    Sergio Perez – An uplifting 2014 brings his investor joy.
    Esteban Gutierrez – Did well at Sauber, but could not pass up the opportunity to join a more financially healthy team.

    McGregor Sauber F1 Team Ferrari VDG keeps up appearances in his FP runs, up until the point his father in law gets a little crazy for Christmas 2014.
    Giedo van der Garde – Moves up from doing well in testing.
    Jules Bianchi – Ferrari throws in a set of coupons and Alonso’s old simulator.

    Infiniti Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault This is awkward, but Infiniti doesn’t care.
    Danill Kvyat – Impresses in 2014, keeps his seat.
    Carlos Sainz Jr. – Cepsa steps in.

    Martini Williams Mercedes The Brazilian rumors are true, somehow.
    Valtteri Bottas – Has another decent year, Williams has faith in him.
    Felipe Nasr – Because why not?

    Lada Marussia F1 Ferrari Because other car brands sponsoring other car brands will be normal in 2015.
    Sergey Sirotkin – Snubbed by filthy Dutch money, this talented driver has to make way at Sauber for yet another untalented paydriver.
    Joylon Palmer – Does well in GP2 2014, manages to get the budget.

    Dacia Alpine Renault Fernandes keeps his word and moves out of F1, Renault steps in after losing RBR as client, supporting Kolles’ bid into F1. The Romanians do an Ijaz.
    Arthur Pic – Has a good enough showing in GP2 2014 to move in where his brother left.
    Robin Frijns – Leafield turns into lovefield when Robin is there. They call him Robin, cause he was Robbin’ their hearts. Also, Renault decides they should support some other-than-French talent.

    Viagra Haas F1 Ferrari After sponsoring NASCAR back in the day, Viagra snubs Torjan for a great merch opportunity.
    Fernando Alonso – After being fired in December, sees nowhere else to go. Brings his new BFF with him.
    Kimi Raikkonen – ‘It’s ok. It’s a sponsor that drunk me can agree with.’

    -Boullier moves into Bernie’s seat
    -Withmarsh leaves to Haas
    -Brawn joins Haas
    -Ricciardo and Vergne get into trouble with Dr. Marko..’s daughter! Oops..
    -Sutil decides to do the right thing and moves to DTM
    -Maldonado is the victim of a UN raid on Venezuela’s financial system
    -Massa decides to step down to allow Nasr into his seat, while Williams are insisting they fired him
    -Alonso changes his number to 69, while Raikkonen changes to 96

    (Disclaimer; silly season)

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