With the ideas that were being bandied around in the previous post regarding the future of Nico Rosberg, I suddenly realised that the silly season is imminent. Of course, in this day and age of long (and short)-term contracts being announced in advance and drivers being fired mid-season, the silly season doesn’t really have a traditional start date/month any more. But as Formula One is on a break, now might be as good of a time as any to field some ideas.
To begin with, Red Bull Racing are definitely sewn up for 2010 with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, and there is little chance of either driver being fired or quitting. Especially as the RB5 is running so competitively at the moment. Also confirmed both in writing and in my mind are Lewis Hamilton at McLaren and Felipe Massa at Ferrari. Kimi Raikkonen has a contract with Ferrari for 2010, and has stated quite forcefully that he will honour this contract. However, there is a niggle in my mind that simply won’t go away.
So that leaves us with some unconfirmed drivers, but we can still assume some will remain where they are. It is likely that Scuderia Toro Rosso will keep Sebastien Buemi, and providing he continues his progress well, they will likely retain Jaime Alguersuari as well. Brawn are sure to keep Jenson Button, and after all the Briton has been through this past year, he is likely to want to stay as well.
Force India will probably retain Adrian Sutil unless a bigger team pick him up, and although I am tempted to say that Giancarlo Fisichella is relatively safe, I again have that niggly feeling in my head. If the niggly feeling is correct, it is called Paul di Resta in this particular case, the McLaren-Mercedes association being the link.
Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock appear to be working well together, but the car has been gradually slipping backwards. It is likely that Glock will be retained – he seems to fit very well with the Cologne-based squad, but I’m getting the impression the team may be tiring of Trulli. Despite this though, both drivers have had some decent results this year, so may be both will be kept on the books for 2010.
Right then, on with the harder calls…
Nico Rosberg to McLaren. As discussed in the previous post, if the offer is there for the German/Finnish pilot, he should probably take it. Williams aren’t the worse team, and it is understandable why Nico would want to remain loyal, but let’s be honest, McLaren have a greater chance of giving him a car to win with. For many of the races this season, the FW31 has looked to be the slightly better car when compared to the MP4-24 (McLaren have only just overtaken them in the constructors). But somehow, McLaren have turned it around whereas Williams have progressed at a much slower rate. And that is essential when considering a new home.
So this completes McLaren. What of Rosberg’s old stable, Williams? Dank suggested that the squad really want their test driver to step up, which would mean putting Nico Hulkenberg in the car. However, if they really want to keep Toyota happy – the company that supply them with fairly decent engines – they will have to partner Hulkenberg with current pilot Kazuki Nakajima. While I do rate Kazuki as an okay driver, I don’t think he really is ready to take on a lead driver position yet. This pairing does not inspire confidence. It would be better for Williams to sign BMW-refugee and former driver Nick Heidfeld, but would the two parties want to reform their relationship? Also, would the squad want two German pilots for marketing/sponsorship reasons?
Ferrari will either partner Felipe Massa with Kimi Raikkonen, or Felipe Massa with Fernando Alonso. Or as a total outside bet, Felipe Massa with Robert Kubica. However, the chances of Kubica beating Alonso to the seat should it become available are pretty slim. The only way Kubica is likely to get a chance in a red car in the near future is if Massa does have an issue with his eye. But according to all reports coming out of Hungary as I type this post, there is no problem and Massa is recovering well.
Instead, I can see Kubica ending up at Alonso’s old home, Renault. I wouldn’t be ideal for the Polish driver, but it would be a home. And partnered with Romain Grosjean, who could learn a lot from his more experienced team mate, the pairing could be quite good, car-dependent of course. And so that just leaves a vacant seat at Brawn, which will probably go to a young upstart, maybe Bruno Senna who was originally suggested for the role prior to Barrichello being retained.
For the new teams, Alex Wurz has been linked with USF1 despite the Austrian retiring at the end of 2007. Pedro De La Rosa may be in at Spanish outfit Campos as well. The new teams will want someone with experience, knowledge and understanding, but not the huge egos or the demands on salaries. So in other words, test drivers. They can develop the cars initially while helping out a younger less experienced team mate. I wouldn’t even put it past Barrichello to be on the grid next year with a new team.
Rookies include Lucas di Grassi, Adrian Valles, Vitaly Petrov, even Giorgio Pantano could find his way onto the grid ahead of former drivers like Christian Klien, Takuma Sato, Anthony Davidson,
Jacques Villeneuve, Vitantonio Liuzzi…
To sum up my thinking, here’s what I think the grid for the 2010 Australian Grand Prix might look like:
Silly Season 2010
|Ferrari||Felipe Massa||Fernando Alonso|
|McLaren||Lewis Hamilton||Nico Rosberg|
|Renault||Robert Kubica||Romain Grosjean|
|Toyota||Jarno Trulli||Timo Glock|
|Scuderia Toro Rosso||Sebastien Buemi||Jaime Alguersuari|
|Red Bull Racing||Mark Webber||Sebastian Vettel|
|Force India||Giancarlo Fisichella
Paul di Resta
|Brawn||Jenson Button||Bruno Senna|
|USF1||Alex Wurz||Rookie/Former Driver|
|Campos||Pedro De La Rosa||Rookie/Former Driver|
|Manor||Experienced Driver||Rookie/Former Driver|
|Former BMW?||Experienced Driver||Rookie/Former Driver|
These are my thoughts and ponderings, but what about yours? Do let me know in the comments…