Friday, 5 August 2011

2012 Driver Market

Many involved with Formula 1 refer to the 'silly season' - the time when rumours are flying about daily, linking different drivers with different race seats.
However, this 'season' seems to be most of the year, rather than just a month or two.

So, F1Predict takes a look at the current driver market as it stands for next season.

Red Bull Racing
> Driver 1 - Sebastian Vettel - recently signed a contract extension. Will be at the team in 2012.
> Driver 2 - Mark Webber - lots of suggestions about where he may be next year. Now looks highly likely to remain at Red Bull.

> Driver 1 - Lewis Hamilton - despite suggestions he's looking to move to either a red car or a 'Red' car, looks set to remain at McLaren, certainly for 2012.
> Driver 2 - Jenson Button - a few rumours that he may move to Ferrari, but most likely to stay put for next year.

> Driver 1 - Fernando Alonso - a new contract extension sees him remaining at Ferrari for the long term.
> Driver 2 - Felipe Massa - suggestions that he may be dropped for 2012 seem highly unlikely, as the Italian marque have publicly backed the Brazilian for next year.

> Driver 1 - Nico Rosberg - isn't realistically going to find a more competitive drive for next year, and as a consistent performer, his team would be wrong to try and disinterest him.
> Driver 2 - Michael Schumacher - still hasn't found the success he wanted, but is still improving. Likely to return for a third year with the German team.
> Alternative 1 - Paul di Resta - driving a Mercedes-powered car in his debut season, the Scot has impressed Mercedes so far.
> Alternative 2 - Nico Hulkenberg - Mercedes may want to continue their theme of German drivers. If so, Hulkenberg would be the obvious choice as only currently a third driver.


> Driver 1 - Robert Kubica - missed all of the 2011 season (so far). If he makes a full recovery he will certainly make it straight back into the team.
> Driver 2 - Vitaly Petrov - his performances have improved race on race. Likely to be retained for next year.
> Alternative 1 - Romain Grosjean - ready for a second chance at the top level. Recently backed by team bosses.
> Alternative 2 - Nick Heidfeld - probably won't be given another chance after a disappointing season, but stranger things have happened!

> Driver 1 - Kamui Kobayashi - confirmed for 2012 after a good couple of seasons.
> Driver 2 - Sergio Perez - confirmed for 2012 after a strong debut season.

Force India-Mercedes
> Driver 1 - Adrian Sutil - has been with the team since they began. Should continue provided his court case doesn't come to anything.
> Driver 2 - Paul di Resta - making a good argument for 'best rookie', should be retained.
> Alternative 1 - Nico Hulkenberg - if either driver leaves, or the team fancy a change, the Hulk will be available. They may lose him to another sport if he doesn't get a drive in 2012 though.

Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
> Driver 1 - Sebastien Buemi - has had some strong results, but not always consistent.
> Driver 2 - Jaime Alguersuari - has improved as the season has progressed. Often outperforming his team mate.
> Alternative 1 - Daniel Ricciardo - on the Red Bull books. Will get a full time drive with one of the Red Bull teams sooner rather than later.

> Driver 1 - Rubens Barrichello - should continue next season, but Williams do historically make unusual driver selections...
> Driver 2 - Pastor Maldonado - has shown some potential this season. Still more to learn though, but has a good team mate.
> Alternative 1 - Valtteri Bottas - the GP3 driver is probably too inexperienced for F1 currently, but is an option for the team.

Team Lotus-Renault
> Driver 1 - Heikki Kovalainen - has clearly become the team's number one driver this season.
> Driver 2 - Jarno Trulli - was looking set to be dropped for next year, but the Italian's performance improved once his power-steering was sorted for Hungary.
> Alternative 1 - Karun Chandhok - seems likely that Chandhok will get a regular drive with the team in the near future, but after a fairly poor performance in Germany, this may not happen as early as 2012.

> Driver 1 - Vitantonio Liuzzi - Hispania have never kept a driver for a whole season, let alone resign one for a second. Could Liuzzi be the first? Surely he's as good as any the team will get?
> Driver 2 - Daniel Ricciardo - if Red Bull decide they want their prodigy to continue in a race environment, they may loan him out again until a Red Bull seat is available.
> Alternative 1 - ?? - the team will probably have at least one pay driver on their team next year. Therefore, any driver could realistically end up in a Hispania seat next year!

Marussia Virgin-Cosworth
> Driver 1 - Timo Glock - recently signed a new deal with the team, keeping the German in the team for 2012 and beyond.
> Driver 2 - Jerome D'Ambrosio - has driven well so far this season, should be rewarded with a new contract for next year.
> Alternative 1 - Could possibly pick up the unrequired Renault driver (either Petrov or Grosjean) for a season.

To summarise - there are not many Formula 1 driver vacancies for 2012. A lot seems to hinge on whether Robert Kubica will return and whether Michael Schumacher will continue on his comeback with Mercedes.

Any more suggestions? Use the comments field below!

1 comment:

  1. Typically, not long after publishing this story, rumours have started to circulate regarding Rubens Barrichello's future at Williams.
    The Brazilian has been outwardly critical of the team and the car this season, leading to question marks surrounding his future.

    Both the German Force India drivers (Sutil & Hulkenberg) have been linked to the role already.
    Based on this year's performance, this switch would seem to be a step backward for Sutil, whereas if Hulk (who drove for Williams in 2010) was to switch back, he must realise now that however well he performs, he could just be dropped again.

    Barrichello, however, has confirmed he wishes to remain with Williams, saying that they need him as much as he needs them.