Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Valencia, 2012

Vettel-Ferrari rumours add new dimension to 2013 driver market

2013 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Valencia, 2012During the European Grand Prix weekend Ferrari raised the prospect of Sebastian Vettel joining Fernando Alonso in the future.

Are the rumours credible? And how might they affect the 2013 F1 driver market? Here’s a look at the state of play for next year.

Ferrari courting Vettel

Just over a year ago Ferrari announced Fernando Alonso will remain with them until at least 2016. Immense speculation has surrounded the identity of his future team mate.

It seems unlikely Ferrari will continue to tolerate the under-performance of Felipe Massa, who at the time of writing has 11 points in the championship – less than one-tenth of Alonso’s points haul.

It would be quicker to list the drivers who haven’t been tipped as potential replacements for Massa as some journalists have seemingly named potential successors based on nothing more than how good their name will look in a headline.

But it was Ferrari themselves who sparked the most interesting recent rumour about their future driver line-up when team principal Stefano Domenicali said Alonso could “coexist” with reigning world champion Vettel.

Not surprisingly, some have already taken this remark a step further, insisting Ferrari have already inked a deal with Vettel for 2014.

If true, that places the team in something of a quandary for next year, as they require a seat-warmer. In the absence of any likely candidates for a driver who might join the team for one year on the understanding he’d be replaced by Vettel afterwards, this brings us back to Massa. Might Ferrari eke out his deal for just one more season until they can have their Alonso-Vettel dream team?

Whatever the situation, it is encouraging that Ferrari are apparently trying to seize the two of the best drivers in F1 today, instead of hiring a subservient ‘number two’ driver.

Hamilton’s McLaren future

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Valencia, 2012Next month Lewis Hamilton will make the 100th start of his Formula 1 career in the German Grand Prix. So far, all of them have been with McLaren. But is that about to change?

McLaren tied Hamilton down to a lucrative five-year contract shortly after he made his F1 debut with them. But group chairman Ron Dennis has indicated Hamilton will have to accept less favourable terms on his next deal due to economic downtime in the intervening period.

Nonetheless Hamilton continued to make positive noises about his McLaren future during last week’s pre-race press conference and played down Dennis’s words: “Ron is a very tough negotiator.

“He was very tough when they negotiated the contract that I have now and I expect him to be the same when we go back in. I don?t see there being many problems, to be honest.”

Hamilton has said in the past his commitment to McLaren is partly dependent on them giving him a sufficiently competitive car. This they have certainly done – the MP4-27 won the first race of the season – but the team has let him down in other ways, with a series of calamitous pit stop blunders.

If he were to go, where would he move to? It’s hard to believe he might end up at Ferrari with Alonso despite his former team mate’s claim he would be happy to reunite.

But a move to Red Bull could make a lot of sense – especially if they find themselves needing a replacement for Vettel.

Team mate Jenson Button renewed his McLaren contract last year. The team vaguely described it as a “multi-year” contract but team principal Martin Whitmarsh later let slip it is a three-year deal.

Mercedes: Will Schumacher stay?

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Valencia, 2012When Michael Schumacher returned to F1 in a three-year deal with Mercedes in 2010 it was with the stated aim of competing for the world championship.

That it has taken him this long to step back on the podium is a reflection on the fact things haven’t gone entirely to plan, but progress is being made.

As Schumacher nears the halfway point in his 18th full season of F1 it is up to him how long he wishes to remain in the sport’s top flight. His ‘phantom pole’ in Monaco shows he still has the pace and the rustiness in his racecraft that was evident in 2010 and 2011 appears to have faded.

Nico Rosberg signed a new “multi-year” contract with the team in November.

Midfield moves

Who goes where in the midfield will be determined in the first instance by whether any enticing vacancies open up among the top teams.

Kimi Raikkonen has another year on his Lotus contract and expect the impressive Romain Grosjean to be retained alongside him.

Vijay Mallya gave a strong endorsement to his two drivers recently, telling the official Formula 1 website: “I think we have two potential world champions in this team. They are both exceptionally talented. I am very delighted to have them.”

However it’s not hard to envisage Mercedes going shopping for a new driver at their engine customer, if it turns out they need one. That would in turn give them a chance to elevate one of the promising drivers from their DTM programme: such as reigning Formula Renault 3.5 champion Robert Wickens or Formula Three Euro Series and International Trophy champion Roberto Merhi.

Bruno Senna is yet to get on the pace of team mate Pastor Maldonado at Williams. That and the promise shown by test driver Valtteri Bottas in his practice outings have led some to draw the inevitable conclusion that Bottas is destined for Senna’s seat. But we’re to even halfway through the season yet, and it’s far too soon to make a call on that.

On the outside looking in is Jaime Alguersuari, who wrote in his BBC column today: “I am pretty sure I will be driving in F1 again next year with a good team. Everything is looking very good at the moment.” The one team we can expect he won’t be joining is Toro Rosso.

Although Mark Webber’s Red Bull contract is up for renewal, it’s doubtful either of their junior team’s drivers will get a call-up for next year. Expect Toro Rosso to stick with their current pairing for 2013. As usual, there is upcoming talent in the Red Bull Development Driver pipeline, but it’s hard to see any of the latest crop being ready for next year.

Sadly, there remains no sign of when or whether Robert Kubica will be sufficiently recovered from his injuries to make a return to F1.

Over to you

Who will go where next year? Do you believe the Vettel-to-Ferrari rumours?

Will Hamilton stay at McLaren? And what will Schumacher do? Have your say in the comments.

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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images, McLaren/Hoch Zwei, Daimler/Hoch Zwei

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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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128 comments on “Vettel-Ferrari rumours add new dimension to 2013 driver market”

  1. Aditya Banerjee (@)
    27th June 2012, 11:03

    I don’t think Ferrari are going to take Vettel; that would be disastrous for the team. Besides, Ferrari’s brand name will not be enough to bring Vettel in, they will have to show substantial progress in the car development. It makes no sense for Vettel to leave his well-recognised top F1 car and leave for a team which may not have as fast a car and a team which he does not know anything about.

    1. Jayfreese (@)
      27th June 2012, 11:30

      I like that the current three best drivers are fighting around in the current three best teams, no?!

    2. And hasn’t Ferrari been a fully Italian-speaking team as of late?
      Both Alonso and Massa speak fluent Italian since they are latinos [native speakers of other latin languages]. Vettel does not and wouldn’t learn it fast enough for him not to be somewhat alienated within the team.

      1. Did you forget Vettel celebrating his first victory in Monza which was for Torro Rosso? He was interacting in Italian

      2. I think he’s very good at picking up languages quickly.

        1. Yeah, the language will be the very last thing that will make them reconsider. Far more importantly is the fact that Vettel really has no good reason to want to go to Ferrari anytime soon.

          Having Newey (esp. with the new rules for 2014), having a team he knows and who fully support him, having a teammate he knows is good but is able to keep in check, and having perfected operations in the team to a high level. And a very solid pay check.
          What can Ferrari offer to counter that? Glamour, not something I think Vettel is seeking. Monez? He’s made it clear that is not what motivates him. A good car? Hm, how good have they been with rule overhauls lately, esp. compared to Newey
          A world champion teammate who is fully in control of the team? Guess Seb would want to wait till Alonso is ready to change to a different role at Ferrari before “enjoying” that one.

      3. Is the draw of Ferrari still so great? And are we dismissing the desires of Red Bull too quickly? I would love to see a dream team line up but as others have pointed out there would have to be one loser!
        I would be suprised to see Vettel join Ferrari, but not so to see Di Resta in a Mercedes. Can Hamilton really leave McLaren, that I think is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation, McLaren are due to get their stuff together, and there would be nothing worse for Hamilton than sitting in slower car watching Jenson and ? winning a WDC in a dominant car. I think Lewis will stay at McLaren.

    3. You’re only on top of the game while it lasts. Red Bull’s meteoric rise during a major rule change can be just as easily undone, especially if 2013 is even sparser than 2012 is looking for the team in the case of pure winning performances. It also only takes 1-2 years of a less than top-3 finishes to really hurt a team without significant funding, which leads on to he ever present rumour of Red Bull’s being there purely for marketing reasons – if the wins dry, will the funding and interest follow?

      1. How many years did it take them to win a race again? Oh that’s right, it was 5 years. These so called rumors are clearly only hopes and dreams of McLaren/Ferrari fans.

    4. I think it’d be more of a decision coming from Vettel than from Ferrari. I mean, there must be a moment in every champion’s career that they need to move on and pick up another challenge. Staying at Red Bull would be the easy way.

      Signing for Ferrari is basically every driver’s dream. And it’d would be a spectacular way of showing the world what you can really do.

      I think Vettel will leave Red Bull in a couple of years, and Ferrari might grab him then.

      1. i think eventually seb will wont a new challenge also with the new rules in 2014 , if ferrari can show him that their good enough then he will go also with red bull having its driver program if jean-eric and daniel can show that their title winners then he might be asked to move on (thats of course if webber doesnt move to ferrari and stay there) also i think that there are other options for him to chose from lotus , mclaren (esspecially if hamilton leaves) even mercedes if they an show that they can win races consistently,

      2. Aditya Banerjee (@)
        29th June 2012, 8:27

        The first paragraph of your comment reminded me of Schumi’s move to Ferrari in 1996. He did it because he realised that in Brawn-Byrne, Benetton had the best technical minds in the sport, but they also had a destructive and disruptive team principal in Briatore. He chose Ferrari, and not Williams because he wanted a challenge. If Vettel does something like that, he will be hailed by everyone, but is the scenario same? Horner is a very amicable principle unlike Briatore and Vettel is pretty muvh a “Red Bull guy”, whereas Schumi wasn’t really a “Benetton guy”. He conquered and stamped his authority in the Anglo-Italian team, but the controversy surrounding Benetton’s 1994 car was a deal-breaker. Schumi’s image was tarnished(remember “Schummel Schumi”) not just because of what he did at Adelaide. Vettel has no such problems with Red Bull, and the only possible deal-breaker can be lack of car’s pace. Also, Vettel will be joining Alonso at Ferrari, who already knows the tean well, while when Schumacher joined Ferrari, Alesi and Berger had gone, and the Ulsterman Irvine was making his Ferrari debut.

    5. why do Ferrari need to show progress in the cars development to make Vettel interested ? Alonso seems to be doing okay !?!

  2. Hope Vettel moves to Ferrari. If it does happen, we will see a major rivalry. And if Vettel comes out on top, Alonso will be furious.

    1. And if Alonso comes out on top, Vettel will be furious.

      1. MARTINAusCro
        27th June 2012, 12:54

        By being an Aussie, I favour Webber, regardless of his driver class (as opposed to ALO, HAM, VET…), so the calculations work out like this: Vettel goes away, Newey hopefully stays, and Webber becomes the no. 1 driver AND WINS THE CHAMPIONSHIP (so he can retire in peace) ! :D

        1. Don’t wake me up, I’m so happy here.

      2. @infly am not sure of Vettel. But Alonso has a history of bad reaction when HAM did well during their McLaren partnership

        1. Alonso does have an ‘issue’ whereby he likes to be the ‘lead’ driver, but then I guess so does every driver. In the end, it’s for the team to manage it.

          Alonso’s main beef in 2007 was with McLaren management (specifically Ron Dennis IIRC), not Hamilton. Everything was also over-analysed much more due to the espionage scandal, specifically Alonso’s blow-up re: threatening to go to the FIA and his quoted conversation with DLR that some attributed to referring to Ferrari’s tech documents.

      3. @infy just asking….does ur ID refer to Infosys?

  3. It’s impossible to speculate any further, so I’ll instead give my dream line-up for 2013/2014:

    Red Bull: Vettel/Kobayashi
    McLaren: Hamilton/Button
    Ferrari: Alonso/Perez
    Mercedes: Rosberg/Di Resta
    Lotus: Grosjean/Kubica (Raikkonen)

    Besides that, the rest is mere detail. Apart from Sauber, of course!

    1. jimscreechy (@)
      27th June 2012, 13:49

      Why not replace Kubica with Long John Silver, equally as likely.

    2. Yes, and Webber winning the WDC for Williams.

  4. I am pretty sure I will be driving in F1 again next year with a good team. Everything is looking very good at the moment.

    Given Ferrari are looking for a Massa replacement in 2013 and a seat-warmer for Vettel in 2014, Alguersuari could be a good solution for them. Only my two cents on this…

    1. Alguersuari is probably only as good as Massa.

      1. Probably a fair evaluation (though I’d rate Massa a bit lower than Algersuari lately), however, they’ve found Massa to be a proven element. They know he’ll underperform. The upside of Jaime is that taking a risk could mean a better performance and a better result in the constructor’s championship.

        1. @infy @joey-poey Jaime will probably come cheaper too

        2. @joey-poey Exactly. They have to try something (though he has performed better in the last few races) and if it’s only for a year it’s not a huge deal.

      2. Alguesuari – Dont know if I can support that. Massa is bad enough, and there are plenty of good drivers available, Hulkenburg, Glock, Kovelienen.

        If you want to plumb the depths of the talent pool with Jamie, why not pull Scott Speed and get that American market, or Liuzzi to have an Italian back in F1, hell, maybe Davic Coulthard is ready to make a comeback the the retirement home we call F1 news-reader

    2. Sutil would be a great seat warmer.

      1. Sutil is a hack. If Ferrari really want a seat warmer, what about Schumi? Gives his Mercedes seat to PDR, goes back to Maranello and has a fun final year. I don’t like Michael but this makes 1000000000% more sense than getting Sutil…

        1. You don’t have to say you don’t like Michael, it’s obvious…

    3. What about Glock? He is probably itching to have a competitive car after the last few seasons, and he is talented.

      1. Adam Blocker

        Remember the Brazilian GP 2008 (last lap) when Glock let Hamilton past to win the title over Massa by one point?.

        Glock has no chance of driving for the Ferrari F1 team. I suspect Ferrari feel that Glock is now getting what he deserves. Bet he can’t even remember last time he scored a world championship point.

  5. Most of the rumours in F1 are true. In 2009-10, rumours were afloat that ALonso is joining Ferrari and it happened, Button is joining Mclaren and that hapopened too. These rumours arent there for nothing. THere has to be some truth behind these. And I see Hamilton leaving Mclaren at the end of 2012 because everyyear Mclaren loses its plot when the year reaches its end. They are not able to sustain the development of the car and it is evident that they have slipped this year too behind Red Bull ,Lotus and Ferrari. If it was not for Hamilton’s monster quali lap at Valencia, their pace would have been more evident

    1. @gill

      everyyear Mclaren loses its plot when the year reaches its end

      I’d say the reverse is true – McLaren have tended to start the year less competitively and improve. That was certainly the case in the 2009 and 2011, and to an extent in 2010.

      1. @keithcollantine, I take out 2009 as that was a year of transition and Mclaren had too much to gain and they did, I dont deny that. But in 2010, they were the 2nd fastest car in Turkey and fastest in Canada ( Because Ferrari were busy developing their FDuct and blown diffuser and were lagged behind in these races). After that, they were slower than Ferrari all year long. This year too, they started fastest but……

    2. Historically, McLaren have always out-developed every other competing team, largely because of their huge resource at the MTC in this area. They’ve been hurt, like Ferrari, with the testing restrictions, but you only have to look at the turn around in 2009 to see this.

      They haven’t slipped behind, they just haven’t improved as much because they started out of the blocks so much better. It’s all relative and when you consider the condition the F2012 and RB8 were in when they first turned wheels in anger in AUS, McLaren are sitting pretty. They just have a few operational problems and one of their drivers is struggling a bit with this years tyre spec.

      I guess the big problem this year is every team have improved, making mistakes & inconsistencies harder to recover from, but as there’s no sembelence of dominance from any team, it’ll only take a 1-2 from any team to suddenly make a massive leap in the table.

      1. They’ve been hurt, like Ferrari, with the testing restrictions

        maybe they’ve been hurt but not like Ferrari, in Maranello their design approach was based entirely on testing & they have more resources than the Woking based team they own two circuits Fiorano, Mugello & don’t Forget Monza & Imola & an entire team of testing (Badoer ,Gene….) on the other side Mclaren are well ahead in the aero_departement (Wind tunnel,simulators,engineers……)

        1. Exactly – McLaren have much better simulation and workbench-based tools so there’s no reliance on putting the car on a track and timing it.

  6. matthewf1 (@)
    27th June 2012, 11:15

    Alonso should be at Ferrari until 2016. If Vettel does join him in 2014, that would leave only 2013 vacant at Ferrari. This would rule Perez out of that seat, and leave Massa and Webber.

    Therefore, if Webber goes to Ferrari for 2013, his career would end at the end of that season. If he wants to have the 2014 option, he needs to stay at Red Bull.

    However, if Webber did say with Red Bull but called it a day at the end of 2013, and Vettel also left at this time, then this would leave Red Bull without a driver for 2014. Therefore, Vettel’s pre-contract with Ferrari may mean Webber in fact loses his Red Bull drive for 2013, to allow the team to integrate a new ‘No 1′ driver, and have a one year overlap with Vettel.

    Red Bull, being the World Champions and full of ambition, will want a big name. None of the recent or present Toro Rosso drivers have done anything to show they could make the jump to the A team. This must bring Hamilton in to play. Hamilton seems like he would be a perfect fit for Red Bull; marketable, young, fast – and of course the link-up with Newey.

    However, Hamilton’s recent noises have suggested he may stay at McLaren, but the likelihood of this seems to be forever changing, and depend purely on the quality of his most-recent pit stop (botched).

    A scenario in my head would be that Hamilton signs a one-year contract extension at McLaren, and then leaves for Red Bull in 2014, to replace Vettel who moves to Ferrari. McLaren, with their penchant for Finns, sign Bottas for 2014, following his highly impressive debut 2013 season for Williams.

    1. @matthewf1 Luca di Montezemolo said earlier this month Perez “needs more experience and more results” before joining Ferrari, which would seem to indicate he’s not going there any time soon.

      Of course, he is out-scoring Massa at the moment, but you could use that same argument to make a case for Senna or a dozen other drivers joining Ferrari.

      1. If Webber stays at Red Bull, I believe that Massa will do another season at Ferrari.

        On the back of LdM’s comments regarding Checo, there is no way Perez will be in a Ferrari next season, especially if Vettel is Maranello bound in 2014, therefore it makes sense from a continuity perspective to stick with Massa.

        I do however believe that if Webber joins Ferrari, there’s a chance we could see Raikkonen in a Red Bull.

        I could only see Hamilton there once Vettel is gone, meaning that in 2014 there could be a Hamilton-Raikkonen combination, with Ricciardo and Vergne hardly setting the world on fire, there are no guarantees that they are first in line to replace Webber or Vettel…

      2. If vettel leaves then Perez will fit right in with Redbull and can win lot of races if they make the usual great car, meantime Vettel will stumble as he can’t drive the red dog and Alonso certainly would out shine him.

  7. I can’t imagine Hamilton driving for a team other than McLaren…
    He should stay at McLaren for the rest of his career.I really can’t see why he should leave.

    1. I can only agree.

    2. Agreed

    3. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      27th June 2012, 13:21

      You are assuming McLaren will continue to challenge for championships. I think McLaren are wobbling. The design teams at Mercedes and Lotus are in the ascendency. If Hamilton wants more championships he needs to be in an Adrian Newey deisigned car. It couldn’t be simpler.

      1. McLaren will always challenge for championships.They ‘re a top team.If their pit stops were normal this year ,Hamilton would have easily been at the top of the championship standings.Ferrari’s last season was awful in every aspect but there were no rumors about Alonso leaving.

      2. Adrian Newey is not the be all/end all. He’s fantastic at designing fast, well packaged cars, but he’s always built them around specific technology & aerodynamics with a goal to produce a dominating force, which is all very well until the regs change or they get banned/limited.

        You’ve only got to look at the RB8 or, unfortunately, the FW16 to see this in effect.

        He’s also one man in a team – you’re discounting the input & efforts of his colleagues Marshall and Prodromou, who are also key to the teams success.

        Also factor in that at several times Newey has threatened to quit F1. What if he falls out with Mateschitz tomorrow and leaves the team high and dry? Is he that much of a magic bullet?

        1. Well said.No man is invincible,designer or not.They all have their day.

          I think (hope & pray) Schumi will stay on for another year,he will want to see this through as he did with the first 5 unlucrative years in Ferrari

          Kimi R.has impressed me,and Grosjean,but the car is good,d***good.But seeing K back in Ferrari? ..nope!

      3. @Sean N, predicting which team will have a top car next is never as easy as it seems, just ask Webber and Button.

  8. Massa seems to be getting back to his best, but even then I don’t think he has a chance of beating Alonso over a season. He’d beat him a few times surely, but over a season, no chance. I’d much rather see an Alonso-Vettel line-up, which would be spectacular and a privilege to watch.

    It’s very hard to speculate at this point – I think we need to see two or three more contracts signed, because right now all we can do is guess.

  9. Keith, do u really think Lotus is a midfield team despite them being 3rd in cinstructors ?

    1. They are in the sense that they’re not one of the “big 4” and have come from fighting the Force Indias and the Saubers last season.

    2. @gill I wouldn’t set too much store by labelling. They’ve certainly been ‘midfield’ for the last few years but are clearly on an upswing. Still haven’t won a race yet, though.

      1. Lotus ( Renault) scored same no of podiums as Mercedes AMG thru Kubica in 2010.

        Lotus (Renault) scored 2 podiums against 0 by Mercedes in 2011.

        Lotus(Renault) has scored 5 podiums against 3 by Merc ( including the win)….

        They are gonna score their first win asap….:)

        1. And Grosjean will be the man who does it

      2. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lotus finish the European leg of the season above Mclaren in the standings…it’s looking very close, and the tracks should all suit Lotus (if not the weather). It’s great they’re competitive again, and have two drivers who are performing well (and whom they should certainly keep).

  10. What would happen if Hamilton left McLaren? Who would replace him? There seems to be a number of candidates but no obvious ones.

    1. I wish Kubica comes back and join the void left by a leaving Hamilton.

    2. Maybe Turvey or Paffet. I could also imagine Di Resta taking Hamilton’s seat. But then, of course, who will replace him at Force India? ;) As you said earlier, all we can do is guessing at the moment…

    3. With the way I see things right now, if Hamilton does move teams, McLaren look to be one of the biggest losers out of the top three teams. Button has been around the tail end of the points for a few races now, without Hamilton they would probably be behind Lotus and Ferrari in the WCC. McLaren’s only option for 2013 would seemingly be to retain Hamilton as one of the top three drivers in the sport right now.

    4. I’m pretty sure that Turvey and Paffet will never race a F1 car…. but let’s talk about Heiki. Last Sunday in DCs gridwalk Kovi said that his qualy the last 2 years is great and if he had a Red bull he would be on pole in every race. I believe that is true. Heiki is a great racer, super fast on a single lap and a great character. In my opinion he is THE right choice for McLaren if Lewis decide to leave.

    5. Well if Ham takes Mark Webbers seat. Mark would be a good fit at McLaren, at least until the next Wunderkind comes along.

  11. The Vettel to Ferrari rumor seems pretty strong so I expect it to be true. Red Bull need to entice Hamilton to fill his place and it does look like Hamilton isn’t overly happy with his own team right now.

    Expect Schumacher to stay as retirement when the car at last looks competitive doesn’t make a whole pile of sense after whats happened the last two years.

    Sutil deserves another chance and to a lesser extent Alguersuri who seems to have something lined up.

    1. @ Snowman, Strong rumours do not really mean anything, there are a lot of mindgames and misinformation involved in the silly season. By apparently wooing Vettel Luca may just be hoping that RBR will have to spend more of their budget on Vettels salary, and/or sow mistrust to unsettle the team, or maybe he just wants to push Massa harder.

      1. Nowadays, a rumour that is repeated more than once is already half true.

  12. Red Bull are in a bit of a fix here, while Ferrari seem to be flooded with options. If Mark goes on a 1 year contract to Ferrari, to keep the seat warm for his Red Bull teammate in 2014, that would mean Red Bull suddenly have lost 2 very good and experienced winners and no one in Toro Rosso currently up to the mark to get an upgrade to the top class. It makes sense in that case, to take up Hamilton this year, have a team Vettel-Hamilton for the year, and then when Vettel leaves, they have a winner who is already settled in the team, and then look at others like Paul Di Resta, Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez next year.

    For Ferrari if they go the above route, they would also be keeping an eye on their two academy drivers, Jules Bianchi and Sergio Perez. Ferrari have especially been very vocal about Jules talent and would want him to get racing experience before moving on to a Ferrari seat. The only likely seat for him is the Force India ones should either of Nico or Paul, get a move to Mercedes in line with a German connection or the DTM connection. Either ways, future looks good for the Force India drivers.

    But for this Mercedes have to decide on Schumacher and that decision would certainly affect a lot of moves. In my opinion, Mercedes now needs to look for a driver combination with which it will be able to win a championship. The current combination just doesnt look up for the task to consistently deliver results. Rosberg is good but in no way is he in the leagues of Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton. On the other hand Schumacher is a mixture of fate and failure to adapt to the tyres. Like Andrew Benson’s blog earlier said, Mercedes have to look for how long the marketting benefits of Schumacher supersede the benefits of being a champion. They inproved the car vastly this year, they wouldn’t want an year where they have a championship winning car but a driver combination not able to do so!

    Another is future of Massa, whose Ferrari future seems bleak, and it looks like nothing short of a victory in Monza would be able to help him to hold on to his seat. Post Ferrari, the only viable option for Felipe seems to be Williams who may be interested in the endorsements brought on by Felipe and the experience.

    With the high quality of both young and experienced drivers currently in F1, and some other young ones like Bottas, Bianchi and Jamie Alguersuari on the fringes, future of both Sutil and Kubica looks bleak

    1. On the contrary I would think its Ferrari who are in a fix with just 1 good driver for the current year with no decent replacement for the next year

    2. the only viable option for Felipe seems to be Williams who may be interested in the endorsements brought on by Felipe and the experience.

      There’s a rumour Kobayashi could get the sack from Sauber next year, as far as I know. If so, Massa back at Sauber, next to Perez wouldn’t be a surprise at all.

    3. 2 Points,
      1. There is never a shortage of driver talent for the team with the best car.
      2. I don’t think Massa has the passion to drive without a pay-cheque.

      1. But for this Mercedes have to decide on Schumacher and that decision would certainly affect a lot of moves. In my opinion, Mercedes now needs to look for a driver combination with which it will be able to win a championship. The current combination just doesnt look up for the task to consistently deliver results. Rosberg is good but in no way is he in the leagues of Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton.

        If Mercedes can deliver a car slightly better than the rest of the field, I can see Rosberg winning a championship. I don’t rate him in the same league as Alonso, but he’s certainly not a slough either.

        1. @kingshark…. rosberg is good on one lap pace . he is not a championship winning material . he fails to deliver on crunch times. with alonso , vettel, hamilton, raikkonen around it is almost a difficult task for rosberg to win a championship .

  13. Torro Rosso’s move to drop two consistently performing drivers for one average driver and one under performing driver looks even more stupid now.

  14. Jaime Alguersuari next to Pastor at Williams next year?

    1. matthewf1 (@)
      27th June 2012, 12:08

      Unlikely. Will surely be Bottas in one of the seats next year.

      1. hmmm, forgot about bottas

    2. Caterham

  15. I’m pretty certain that Vettel will end up at Ferrari one day but I’m not sure if that is going to happen as soon as in 2014.

    It’s really hard to tell what’s going on behind the scenes now. If I were the one making decisions at Mercedes, I would try to replace Schumacher with Hamilton. MS is past his best years, while LH seems to have matured and should find a ‘happy bubble’ at Mercedes. I think Ross Brawn might be the perfect boss for him, too.

    Webber might join Ferrari next year, I imagine he wouldn’t object to being a ‘seat-warmer’.

    And it’s also hard to imagine a driver as good as di Resta is not climbing up the career ladder so I think the likelihood of him joining either Mercedes or McLaren is quite high.

    All that said, it could happen so that we will see no changes in the driver line-ups of the top 5 teams, which would be a shame as there are some drivers in the midfield and backmarker teams who clearly deserve better equipment.

  16. Sviatoslav Andrushko (@)
    27th June 2012, 12:00

    Sooner or later Vettel will be at Ferrari, and I foresee a great battle between him and Alonso. Schumacher will stay at Mercedes for another year. There is a truthful evidence that this season is his penultimate. As for others… who knows? Ham to RedBull – doubtful; Rosberg – somewhere – uncertain. Same feeling about Kimi and Romain and Webber. Paul will be in Mercedes.

  17. As long as Adrain Newey is at Red Bull, I don’t see any reason why seb should leave a team that has been at the top of F1 for the last 3 years. Imagine if he moved to Ferrari and saw Red Bull dominate the season again knowing he could have stayed. But I think he’ll move at the end of 2013 to Ferrari with Alonso and assuming webber retires by 2014, Red Bull’s new line up could Be Hamilton and Ricciardo.
    Also Alguersuari will have a good chance of returning to F1 next year as he will have a good understanding of the tires being a pirelli tester and considering how much they have played apart this season, teams could uses his knowledge.

    1. @tomand95 It’s difficult to second-guess these drivers but I imagine quite a few of them would give up the chance of an easier championship just to prove their talent elsewhere. Vettel won’t become any more of a champion just by winning more titles, but he will become a legend if he has a chance of doing it elsewhere.

  18. I would really be surprised if Vettel had already signed a pre-contract with Ferrari for 2014. He has a contract with Red Bull until the end of 2014, and although it may or may not contain performance clauses, to be sniffing around other teams for 2014 this early would strike me as out-of-character for Sebastian. My guess is he’ll simply serve his contract with Red Bull, and then sees which way the wind is blowing.

    Moreover, it would actually be convenient to come out of contract at the end of 2014, so a driver can evaluate which turbo engine is good, and which is not. To move to Ferrari in 2014 only to find out that Renault have built a monster engine would just be silly.

    More interesting is what Hamilton will do, and when. He recently said that he wanted to focus on this championship first (great!) and maybe decide on his future until after the season, but that strikes me as a bit late. Indeed, the best way to focus on this championship is to re-sign with McLaren now.

    If Hamilton wants the highest chance of a competitive car, then the only alternative is Red Bull. Another good team that wants him is Mercedes, but then he will again find himself in a car that is hard on its tyres (judging on the past two seasons).

    Of course, with the cars so close this season, he could move to virtually any team and still have a chance of winning. Frank Williams is a fan of Hamilton (and least he was when he was interviewed by Peter Windsor on the Flying Lap some time ago), though I can’t see him teaming up with Maldonado. Hamilton and Bottas, though, that would be a very good driver line-up for Williams.

    1. @adrianmorse
      Exactly. It would be completely darft to sign a contract with another team this early, considering the changes in the regulations, and the fact that Red Bull still has Newey and has so far in the last 3 years been ahead of Ferrari.
      And the fact that his position in the team is much more secure at Red Bull, where he could easily feel left out at Scuderia Fernando.

  19. This must be Ferrari’s grand plan to lure Adrian Newey :)

  20. I’m quite sure Kovalainen will change the team after this year, and the rumors are moving him to Sauber. Perez to Ferrari and Kovalainen to Sauber? Kobayashi hasn’t been spectacular this year, so maybe Sauber would be ready to get rid of Kamui and take Heikki instead?

    1. @huhhii Where did you read this gossip? Anyway, it seems to make sense. I believe that Sauber would want him and, if Heikki doesn’t see better options (that is, any of the top 5 teams) for himself, he might agree.

      1. @girts Auto, motor und sport wrote about it last week. Heikki has gotten a contract offer from Caterham, but he hasn’t signed it. Heikki said last weekend that he has discussed with several different teams, but he didn’t name exactly what teams.

  21. The way I see it, Schumacher will hang around for at least one more campaign, which takes Mercedes out of the equation.

    As the days go by, it makes more sense for Hamilton to remain at McLaren at least for 2013 (as long as Vettel is at Red Bull).

    If Webber stays at Red Bull, I get the feeling that Massa will get a stay of execution for one last season – it makes sense if Vettel is headed to Maranello in 2014.

    However, if Webber joins Ferrari, don’t be surprised to see Raikkonen join Vettel at Red Bull, in which case, the 2013 line-up could be

    Red Bull: Vettel Raikkonen
    Ferrari: Alonso Webber
    McLaren: Hamilton Button
    Mercedes: Rosberg Schumacher


  22. i believe Robert Kubica might be fit for next year, but i think if he is fit he might have to do a year as a 3rd driver or drive rallys or a lower series in f1 – as seats are limited in F1. he has been driving a rally car in recent months -and very fast if you watch the youtube video, but when he got into a cramped open-wheel simulator, he decided to have another corrective elbow surgery as he couldnt turn the arm in a sufficient way for driving in a cockpit- the surgery is a sign he still wants to do open-wheel racing. apparently the success of that surgery will be known in late july. from all (very few) accounts, the rest of his body is healed, hence driving a rally car, and his mind must not have been hurt since the first racing car he got back into was a rally car, showing he has balls.
    there was a rumour on caterhams twitter account a few days again saying they were interested in him, which turned out to be madeup.
    in a way but i think Kubica going the silent route is damaging his chances of landing a seat in f1 again, last year he had a manager who spun exageratted tails of his recovery pace, but that probably worked for a while, keeping him in the renault loop, but kubica then ended ties with that manager – and is doing things on his own – he will need a smart manager when he is fit and needs to contact teams to negitiate.
    i think their is something we arent being told – maybe that a lot more recovery time is needed, and perhaps full recovery will never be achieved, but what is known is he is doing the hard yards to recover.

  23. Where is all this discussion about Alguersuari’s future coming from? What has he achieved in F1 that puts him in line for any race seat next year? I mean the guy may be alright and his replacements at TRosso certainly aren’t showing that they’re any better but that doesn’t put him in line for a Williams or anything higher. If anything, based on his F1 results, he should be looking down the grid at…TRosso or one of the three below them. He might luck into a Force India if he played his cards right, as a replacement for di Resta should Paul move to another team, but anywhere else is undeserved based on his previous performances.
    Just because he says he’s expecting to be hired by a good team doesn’t make it so. Anyway, for a driver who’s not in F1 any team is a good team.

  24. I think this change of mentality in Ferrari has a lot to do with Pat Fry’s arrival in the team. First he changed the conservative approach in the design of the car into a new aggressive one at least Ferrari now have their own ideas, then he restructured the aero_department & now the team is looking for a top driver to put alongside Alonso rather than the traditional number 2 driver so i think Vettel’s move to Ferrari isn’t just a rumor it’s a matter of time
    When Vettel extended his contract with RedBull he suggested the services of Adrian Newey until the end of his contract we know that Vettel & Adrian have a good relationship & that Ferrari are always pushing very hard to get Adrian Newey’s services
    The question is will Vettel suggest the same thing to Ferrari ???

    1. I think it is totally an unknown as to whether or not Ferrari has a ‘change of mentality.’ They have not said they are looking for a top driver. They were asked if they could see SV or LH on the team and they have said yes, but I think that is lip service…doesn’t mean they are actually going to do it…they may just want to sound like they would, but to do so would be a change in philosophy and I’m not sure they feel the need to do that with FA on the team. If they had actually said they were looking for a top driver to go beside FA I think this topic and this conversation would be a whole lot different because we would be talking about which of the few drivers who are ‘top’ it WILL be, rather than IF they even will actually do it and when.