2010 F1 driver rumours: Raikkonen spurns Toyota, Renault eyes rookies

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Kimi Raikkonen is on Toyota's wish-list
Kimi Raikkonen is on Toyota's wish-list

Remarkably, with just one race left to run the entry list for next year is far from complete. Just six drivers have their contracts officially in place for 2010 and there could be as many as 22 places left to fill.

Among those yet to sign deals are newly-crowned champion Jenson Button, team mate Rubens Barrichello and former champion Kimi Raikkonen. So where are they going to end up?

Toyota court Raikkonen

Raikkonen has had discussions with McLaren and Toyota. His salary demands appear to be too much for the latter, and he is also negotiating for the smallest commitment to PR events he can get away with.

Toyota have given off mixed signals about who could be driving for them next year. While John Howett has been critical of Jarno Trulli in the press, the Italian claims team boss Tadashi Yamashina wants him to stay.

Similarly, Timo Glock has insisted he will keep his place and poured scorn on claims he was informed of the team’s decision to drop him at Singapore. Howett described Glock’s stand-in, Kamui Kobayashi, as “a bit slow” in Brazil but also suggested the Japanese driver could stay at the team in 2010.

But we still can’t take their participation next year for granted until their budget is confirmed next month. New Toyota president Akio Toyoda blogs about his company’s road cars using a pseudonym and isn’t very complimentary about them. One has to wonder what he makes of his company’s faltering F1 effort.

Lots of room for rookies

Four different names have been linked to the second Renault seat alongside Robert Kubica. They include former Renault test drivers Lucas di Grassi and Franck Montagny, plus Glock and Bruno Senna.

This suggests Romain Grosjean has fallen out of favour already. His results haven’t been great but given how he was hastily drafted into the team with little testing, perhaps he’s being judged too harshly too quickly.

Many of the latest crop of GP2 talent have got sponsors lined up and are hoping for places at F1’s new teams for 2010 – Manor, USF1, Campos and Lotus.

Looking elsewhere it would be astonishing if, having won the championship with Brawn, Button ended up somewhere else next year. He’s found himself at the centre of contract disputes in the past, but a wrangle over money at this late stage would reflect poorly on the new champion.

It still looks as though Barrichello will make way for Nico Rosberg at Brawn, heading to Williams in a straight swap. As Williams will not be using Toyota engines next year, Kazuki Nakajima will most likely be moving on.

Two drivers rarely mentioned in the ‘who goes where’ discussions are Heikki Kovalainen and Nick Heidfeld. Kovalainen will stay at McLaren if Raikkonen doesn’t tke his place, but Heidfeld is taking a risk if he gambles on Qadbak keeping the former BMW team in Formula 1.

Slow upheaval

One thing is for sure – almost every team in F1 will start 2010 with a different pair of drivers to who they ended 2009 with. Red Bull is the only certain exception at this stage.

The scale of the upheaval is one of the reasons why the driver market is moving so slowly this year.

Last year the driver market was unusually stable – most teams kept the same pairings for 2009 as 2008. And many of those drivers had contracts that expired in 2009. So everyone’s on the move at once.

The recession has forced teams to cut budgets and that means some tough discussions on driver salaries are taking place – Button and Raikkonen are cases in point.

Add to that the uncertainty over which teams will be competing next year and the situation becomes very complex.

As usual, the most coveted drivers take their seats first and that is by and large what has happened so far. But it’s taking a while and there could be some surprises still to come.

Read more: 2010 F1 drivers and teams

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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157 comments on “2010 F1 driver rumours: Raikkonen spurns Toyota, Renault eyes rookies”

  1. Prisoner Monkeys
    22nd October 2009, 7:04

    I’m growing less and less confident that Vitaly Petrov will make it into a 2010 team.

    Dammit, but I so wanted to see a Russian in Formula One. I firmly believe that Formula One needs representation in every major geographical region, and Russia and the former Soviet Bloc – in addition to Africa and the Indian subcontinent – have been ignored for too long.

    I have, however, heard the rumours that Renault will back out completely and mainain a presence only as an engine suppliers; the buyrs are said to be a consortium led by the owner of Russian telecom giant MegaFon, who already sponsor Renault, and who will leave the team exactly as it is. I don’t believe a word of it, though.

    1. I know F1 is a business a lot of the time but I would rather not just stick people in a car according to geography. It should be the best for the job and if that means 10 Italians, 4 Germans and a Spaniard then fine (it’ll never happen). I would expect that given the size of Russia and other basically F1-untouched continents would have some talent to offer so PM I think it is only a matter of time that F1 has more representation from them.

      1. Yep…..politics…why we have Jaime Algersuari and not Brendon Hartley…there are not enough New Zealanders for sponsors to sell stuff to. I agree Steph.

    2. That reminds me, who remembers the rumours that Renault were going to pull out, and the team was going to br renamed Briatore F1? I doubt that’s going to happen anymore…

    3. In Brazil they are reporting that Renault may end their team and stay on only as engine suppliers… that this was discussed over the between them and Bernie and that MegaFon and a risk investment company, Mangrove, are potential buyers.

      Here is the text, in Portugese:


      There is also another news stating that a brazilian driver, Lucas Di Grassi, is close to signing on with Manor.

      1. Thanks for link!

    4. how about just the fastest drivers?

      1. Don’t be ridiculous

  2. HounslowBusGarage
    22nd October 2009, 8:17

    Raikonnen – “and he is also negotiating for the smallest commitment to PR events he can get away with”.
    Love it!
    I can hear him saying “I turn up, I drive, I **** off”

    1. haha, yes that doesn’t surprise me. Fits into want Ant. Davison was saying about him being really shy.

      1. Speaking of which, SURELY Davidson is under consideration by some teams… ??

        1. Since 2002, Davidson has been under consideration by some teams.

    2. McLaren don’t need him for PR anyway – Lewis is a publicity machine.

      Unless it’s geographically important just send Pedro de la Rosa to do doughies in some city street during an exhibition.

      1. Correct. Raikkonen back to McLaren please :-)

    3. “I turn up, I drive, I **** off”

      Hahaha actually laughed out loud!!
      But his no-nonsense approach is what we admire in the Iceman. That and the fact he’s one of the best. :)

    4. you forgot, ‘I eat Ice cream’

    5. He would be perfect ambassodor for Redbull-vodka.

  3. Mussolini's Pet Cat
    22nd October 2009, 8:47

    He maybe an ex-world champ, but i for one won’t miss Raikkonen if he doesnt secure a drive for ’10.

    1. Terry Fabulous
      22nd October 2009, 10:22

      Let me make a prediction, whoever signs Raikkonen is making the biggest and most expensive mistake of anyone.

      He does not motivate his team,
      he does not charm sponsors
      he doesn’t even beat his teammate (I mean who rated Massa before he whiped Kimi last year?)

      He adds nothing.

      1. Nothing? He’s won one WDC and two Constructors in two years. How in the world can you call that nothing?

      2. Obviously your comments are based in a very shalow point of view. Just take a close look to Kimi’s career and character and you know what I’m talking about…
        Clearly your comments ADDS NOTHING to whom knows about F1 indeed.

        1. Roger if you can highlight examples in his time at McLaren and Ferrari – despite il give you his ‘off season’ things that make him not worthy of a f1 drive.

          1. Two Constructors and a WDC. I know some people that say he isn’t a good driver, but of the drivers on the grid right now, he is one of the best. You can’t ignore that.

        2. Terry Fabulous
          22nd October 2009, 22:03

          Hi Roger
          Lets look closely at his career.
          Sauber – 2001 – Slower and less points then Nick, but hey, it’s his first team.
          McLaren – Five years at a top team, at least two of those years in the fastest car. No Driver’s titles. Did beat Coulthard and Montoya, so yes, he is better then both of those.
          Ferrari – Wins 1 Driver title due to Lewis falling over in the last two races and the FIA punishing Alonso at Hungary. Then Beaten soundly by Massa, a man who is supposed to much slower and it certainly paid a hell of a lot less.

          So as far as I can read his career. He has spent eight years driving for the best teams and won exactly one drivers title.

          Alonso has done better then that, Hamilton has done better, even Button has done better.

          Do you honestly think that if someone else had had his drives they wouldn’t have done just as well if not better?

          1. All the time he was at McLaren they had poor reliability, and the all the titles won in that period either went to the dirty driving Schuey in the then dominant Ferrari or Alonso in the Renault with illegal suspension ! Dont know why he has gone downhill after winning his WDC, but he is still a legend.

          2. Hi Terry!
            If you look closely at his time at McLaren, He lost 2 WDC because of engine failures, not because his drive capabilities. In his second year there he lost de WDC by only two points against Schumi. 2004 the engine was terrible, 7 retirements in that season, but he could manage a win at Spa. In 2005 he won 7 times, as many as Alonso, losing the WDC by 11 points to Alonso, and 50 points more then Schumi, who was champion the year before… 2006 he had 6 retirements, none because of him, but reliabilities and accidents caused by others. There’s the episode that, don’t remember when, he was to win the race and lost his front tire in the last lap because the regulation that was forbiden to change tires.
            Kimi has had lots of misfortunes, he could be at least 3 times world champion already if it all depended of his talent. Other thing, Kimi won the WDC in his first year at Ferrari, where Massa was there alongside Schumi in 2006. Kimi had a low 2008 most because the car wasn’t quite right as it was in 2007, he said it himself. In 2008 he had other misfortune too, like loosing the exhaust pipe, make him loosing a race to Massa, Hamilton hit his rear at Canada (I think), where he had a clear chance to win, so… Hamilton was so lucky to start right away in F1 in a fantastic car as it was McLaren in 2007 and 2008. I really hope that he goes to McLaren next year. I’m positive that Hamilton will have a hard time…
            Sorry about my english, I’m a brazilian and know Kimi is better than Massa, Barrichelo… and even Senna.

          3. Fellow F1 Terry,

            It seems you’re missing a point and
            just being too harsh on providing a comment, that has no grip. Kimi just had bad lucks in his years in McLaren.

            If you compare him to the like of Alonso, Hamilton, then how can you consider Rubens Barrichello who has been in F1 for 15 years but still unlucky to clinch a single driver title.

          4. Terry Fabulous
            23rd October 2009, 23:29

            Gday Roger and XDriver

            Firstly, isn’t it great that we can have a sensible debate and not just resorting to insults like some other people on the internet do!

            My point about Kimi is not that he has or hasn’t had any luck, it is that he has had more opportunity then anyone on the grid. There isn’t another driver who has had more years in a top team and he has one title. Maybe it is time to try someone different.

            Secondly, he is paid like Schumi was, and he is not performing like Schumi did, on or off the track.

            Surely F1 team bosses would rather get a cheaper driver, who is better with the team, better with the sponsors and just as fast (Look at Felipe! I know you don’t rate him, but he has out pointed Kimi last season and for the first half of this one).

            That is my point, not that Kimi isn’t good, obviously he is good. Just that you can get someone as good or better for less money who will be better with the team and the sponsors.

            Enjoy Abu Dhabi!

      3. What rot!

        2 Constructors titles for the team 1 Driver’s tile, just how many people on the grid have that to their names?

        He is the fastest out there and he is 1 amongst the very few classed as the best in the world. We dont need prancing ponies and media whores so to speak we need drivers who can drive fast. Thats what kimi is.

        1. Terry Fabulous
          22nd October 2009, 21:50

          OK Personally, I don’t think he is that fast, but I can see how his efforts recently, especially at Spa would convince you otherwise. So lets put that aside for the moment.

          But the big issue here is that driving an F1 car is not just being fast. You need to inspire and unite the team and you need to add value to your team. Look at the outpouring of emotion to Lewis from the McLaren team and to Button from Brawn when they got the win. You could tell that the team loved the guys, and that they inspired the team and treated them well.
          Does Kimi do that? I think not. how would you feel if you had flown halfway around the world, worked your butt off to get the car ready and then, as soon as it rains, and his strategy doesn’t work, the driver gets out of the car, gets changed and sits there in front of you eating an ice cream?????

          And despite comments to the contrary, you need to smooze the sponsors because they bring money into your team so they can keep developing the car. You don’t want to? Then bugger off to WRC or DTM where there are less sponsors. If you want to stick around in F1 at least have the maturity to show respect and credit to the companies that are paying your salary and building your chariot.

          1. Terry, are you talking about this year…or his career? If you are talking about his career, you need to do some homework.

          2. Terry Fabulous
            22nd October 2009, 22:27

            Hi mfDB
            Talking about his whole career.
            Look he is obviously capable of driving a car very fast…
            Massa has demonstrated convincingly that you can get someone faster AND Cheaper AND better for the team AND better with the sponsors.

            It is a no brainer, really, go for cheaper, faster, nicer more mature driver then Kimi!

            He has lots of fans amongst F1 officiandos because from the outside, he is like a cool kid, a rebel who doesn’t care about boring stuff like helping the team or smoozing the sponsors.

            From the inside of the team, it must be a nightmare. How did Ferrari feel, know that Massa was faster, cheaper, more motivating for the team and better with the sponsors?

            Have a good one mate

          3. Terry you fool, get of this forum with your stuppid comments, you clearly have a selective memory. People are telling you facts and your ignoring them! Dont be so good damn ignorant!

          4. Terry Fabulous
            23rd October 2009, 23:33

            Hi Theo

            Can you tell me what facts I am ignoring. I admit he was won a drivers title and is very fast. But Felipe has shown you can get someone as fast, cheaper, who is better with the team and sponsors.

            And don’t insult me, read the comment policy, it’s not on.

          5. Terry Fabulous
            24th October 2009, 20:13


            Crickets chirping


        2. Well said Maria!

          1. Terry,
            Ferrari contracted Kimi knowing about the way he is, they don’t need a drive to be patronizing them, or you think they are kids or bimbos? They needed a great driver, that’s why they wanted Kimi, and paying a lot of money because they knew he could deliver results as he did. So you think a driver should pose as a salesman (no offense to the professionals), Kimi is not like that, what you see is what you get with Kimi.
            Barrichelo and Massa participated in a live interview here in Brazil. Massa told that this year’s car is very, very hard to handle. Kimi manage to score 38 points in the last 7 races, and winning at Spa, despite Ferrari stopped the car’s development in the mid season. This shows clearly how Kimi has the capability to adapt to a bad car. Besides, in regard to his “motivation”, he never, never stopped being who he is, a cool person and a great diver, no matter what.

        3. Absolutely agree Maria!

        4. Terry Fabulous
          24th October 2009, 20:31

          Hi Maria

          Yup he is a World Champion, but he has had 8 years in a top team and done it once. For all the talk about bad luck etc etc Winning a world title requires you to make your own luck.

          Winning a title is not about grabbing the car and driving it like you stole it. It is about maximising points so you are first across the line at the end of the year.

          As F1 fans, maybe ‘we’ don’t want a media whore or a prancing pony, but as a Team owner that is exactly what you want. One of the reason Schumi was paid such a staggering salary was because of the way he serviced his sponsors, also Jackie Stewart went on at length in his autobiography the importance of servicing the sponsors who pay for your team. If Kimi doesn’t want to do this, then why is he demanding as a driver who will?

          But Maria, Roger, Theo and all the Kimi fans who want to punch me, I would be all for him earning bucketloads of dosh if he was really really fast, like Schumi Fast. But he isn’t.

          1. Ok, this is a message (a belated one admittedly) for Terry.

            Theo, what facts has Terry ignored? Raikonnen has won 1 WDC and 2 WCCs. He is a fast driver. These are concessions that Terry has made.

            Raikonnen fans: can you honestly say that Kimi is as fast as Schumi? No. So does he deserve to earn Schumi money on that criteria alone? No.

            And Terry’s point about team spirit is a good one. If Raikonnen wins the WDC I would imagine the team having a reaction along the lines of: “we won the driver’s title”, rather than “Yes, Kimi did it!”. This although does not necessarily detract from the team harmony, it certainly does not enhance it like it does in other teams.

            Additionally, Raikonnen’s heart simply does not appear to be in it any more. I have read (I cannot remember where) on numerous occasions that he is contemplating retirement or moving into rallying. That does not show commitment to the sport, and if there is no commitment there can be no improvement. So why should McLaren sign him? Answer: they shouldn’t.

            And by the way, Terry – well argued! Respectful and in my view, spot on in accuracy!

          2. Terry Fabulous
            1st November 2009, 21:45

            You are too kind Lewis,
            Have a good one mate

      4. Terry Fabulous congratulations on the most ill-informed reply on the blog!

        1. Terry Fabulous
          23rd October 2009, 23:51

          Which one? I have replied about five times now!

          Have a good one Theo

    2. doyle, dont be boring

  4. I don’t think Mclaren need Raikkonen as they already have Hamilton as their star driver& they don’t need two champions on the same team as they learned a lesson in 2007.

    Kimi may move to Red Bull if not Toyota with Mark moving out of it,& he will be a good person to promote Red Bull drinks.

    I will be astonished if Button don’t stay in Brawn.
    Senna or Nico may partner

    Romain may partner Kubica.

    Kobayashi won’t be bad for Toyota.

    I don’t want a grid full of Rookies next season,so I hope drivers like Glock,Trulli,Webber with Kilen,Pizzanio and many more have a decent job.

    1. Sure, McLaren don’t need Kimi for PR reasons. But in an increasingly competitive field it would be useful to have a second driver who bags a load of points and a few wins – just like Barrichello did this year, without whom Brawn couldn’t have achieved the Constructors.
      Besides, unlike Alonso, Kimi is likely to keep a low profile when not in the car so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

      Agree with Kobayashi for Toyota. He’ll learn in no time where the line is as regards driving standards/weaving, and will be entertaining to watch.

      1. three4three, that might be true, but Kimi has already said that he’s not into that. He will just go rallying before he goes to McLaren as Lewis’ back up driver….

        1. Purely from a driver talent point of view, it would be a shame for Kimi to leave F1 so early. I guess we’ll wait and see.

    2. They may not need Kimi for the WDC, Hamilton will surely provide a decent fight for it. But if they want any chance at beating Ferrari in the WCC, then they definately need him. Alonso and Massa are a superteam, you can’t beat two star drivers with one star driver + an average one, if McLaren want any chance of being close to the WCC then they need Raikkonen to do the business, this also means they have another driver in contention for the WDC. Of course Raikkonen and Hamilton will take points of each other, but don’t forget that Massa and Alonso will be doing the same.

      Also, I’m assuming they are the two teams fighting it out for the title next.

      Just look at this year, if Massa was not injured then Ferrari would surely have secured 3rd place by now despite having an inferior car to McLaren.

      1. Spot on. Ferrari are up to something for 2010. Alonso and Massa are indeed the superteam and Mclaren can only challenge them with a superteam with Hamilton and Raikkonen. Ross Brawn will be back even better with a superteam with Button and Rosberg.

        1. I’m not trying to bash Button here, but I think its more than a little generous to call Button and Rosberg a “superteam”

    3. My favorite team is Red Bull and as much as I like RAI, I don’t want him on my team. They have two decent drivers. It would suck if they picked RAI over WEB.

      1. I agree. It is not about the driver its all about respecting contracts. Even if you have a slightly inferior driver who is doing fine for his level he should not be removed to take on a better driver if there is a contract in place.

        1. I agree with both of you Brian and Maria, to some extend, but picture this. Right now everyone is talking about a prospective WDC and WCC fight between Ferrari and Mclaren cars and drivers. Now put a WC KIMI next to a future multi champion Vettel, and you get a real DREAM TEAM that will absolutely fight the 2 usual suspects for both championships.

  5. If even Toyota aren’t even prepared to pay Raikkonen what he is asking for it is either a sign that Toyota really are making massive budget cuts or that he is asking for too much.

    Raikkonen earlier said he only wanted to be at a team that can win in 2010, and the teams most likely to do that are the teams who won this year. Of those teams I think McLaren would be the most likely to sign him but the rumour is they can’t agree on a salary either.

    I would be very surprised if Heidfeld can’t get a seat for next year, the only way it will happen is if pins his hopes on Sauber for too long and all the drives are taken.

    I doubt that Sauber will be a 14th team next season but does anyone know if there is any sort of deadline for them being a replacement 13th team, for example if no other team has dropped out by the end of this year will Sauber defiantly not be on the grid next year, and what will happen if a team drops out the week before the first Grand Prix next year, is there clause in the Concorde agreement fining them for dropping out so late?

    I think the new teams should go for at least one of their drivers having F1 experience, so that should provide a seat for some drivers who probably would otherwise be left out.

  6. I’d like to see Button at McLaren alongside Hamilton next year.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      22nd October 2009, 9:28

      Ew, ew, ew!

      Besides, Button has already said that Brawn is his first (and pretty much only) choice. From the sounds of things, the so-called pay dispute was a rumour that came about because Button struggled in the second half and hadn’t re-signed.

    2. Mussolini's Pet Cat
      22nd October 2009, 10:33

      yeah, it always works having two world champs in one team………

      1. BT52/B