Posted on August 27, 2009
Reading between the lines with Alonso, Kubica and Rosberg | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

This afternoon I sat down, along with various press colleagues, with Fernando Alonso, Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg and all three gave very interesting insights into their thought processes at this important time in the driver market.

It’s quite possible that all three drivers will move teams for next year. Widespread rumour since last Christmas has Alonso going to Ferrari (either next year or 2011), Kubica has a choice of Williams, Renault and Toyota, Rosberg will probably either stay put or move to McLaren Mercedes.

This stage of the season is all about trying to unpick the lock, to figure out what the drivers are thinking about, what their considerations are and which way they are leaning. You speak to as many people on the inside as possible, you speak to the drivers, you form a picture. Today all three men were prepared to play the game, to talk about possibilities, to open the curtain a little onto their thought patterns and it was very interesting.
Rosb

When you sit with the driver you look for tells; nervous hand gestures, eyes looking away, that kind of thing. Amusingly all three of these men are experienced poker players and neither Rosberg nor Alonso give much away with their eyes or their movements. Kubica is forever playing with the peak of his cap, or stroking his neck or shifting position in his chair. He’s comfortable in the company of the media, however and seems to enjoy playing the game.

He made it clear today that he is looking for stability in his next move, “With a long term collaboration and a stable group you can achieve a lot,” he said. And he definitely doesn’t want the risk of a repeat of what has happened with BMW, where a message lands from out of the blue that the main board has decided to quit F1.

With this in mind, I asked him whether his next team needed to be a manufacturer team and he said no, “My decision will not depend on whether the team is a manufacturer or not,” he said. “Other factors are more important.” Such as the outlook for the team and whether he feels he can move the team forward. But he said that it is hard to know what the future holds so it’s based on a feeling more than anything else.

Kubica is weighing up Renault, Toyota and Williams. Renault would probably pay the most and he has been well paid at BMW. But all drivers are going to have to face the fact that F1 teams are not spending like a sailor on shore leave any more.

Although both Renault and Toyota have signed the Concorde Agreement that does not mean that they will definitely still be around in 2011 or 2012, for example. There is no penalty for them leaving, but they would have obligations to extract themselves from. Both are important engine suppliers, however, so it would be a big deal if they pulled out on several levels.

My own feeling is that Kubica is high on Williams’ list and he would work well there. It’s really a question of whether he feels they are capable of giving him a car which can challenge for podiums and wins and then whether they can find a financial level to agree on. It helps that he will have a year’s contract from BMW as a pay-off.

Rosberg is going through the exact same considerations; he looks very confident at the moment, not surprising when you look at his results of the past six races. He’s really punched above his weight, putting strong weekends together and bagging lots of points mostly fourth and fifth places. He is fifth in the world championship, so ‘best of the rest’ behind the two Brawn and the two Red Bull drivers, which is a tremendous achievement. One or two respected pundits currently have him as their “Driver of the year” He’s having a strong year and he knows it.

Patrick Head said this week that Rosberg “may choose to go somewhere else,” but Rosberg was at pains to point out that this does not mean he is moving. He said that he will make his decision “in the next few weeks.”

“I’m not impatient but I would like to get a car where I can go for podiums and race wins and that is what I’m trying to find for next year. I’m just evaluating whether Williams can do it or maybe somewhere else.”

The main “somwhere else” under consideration is McLaren. Mercedes are very keen after all these years – 250 GPs in total with McLaren – to have a German driver and this year they are spoilt for choice. Glock, Heidfeld and Rosberg are all available and any one of them would do a great job. Rosberg would be the closest to Hamilton on raw pace and he’s shown that he can get results, unlike Heikki Kovalainen. McLaren need two cars scoring points, as they had in the Hakkinen/Coulthard days, especially if they are going to be up against Alonso & Raikkonen or Alonso and Massa in the Ferraris.

For Rosberg the risks of going up against Hamilton, who beat him consistently in karts and junior racing categories, is immense. But he said today that he had proved to himself that he has what it takes to mix it with the best in F1. Now he has to show everyone else. I’ve heard that his Dad, Keke, thinks he should stay where he is.

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Alonso is the most experienced of the three at fending off questions about his next move. He managed to spring a complete surprise in 2005 when he announced that he had signed for McLaren for 2007. But this was an agreement swiftly followed by an announcement, whereas the marriage with Ferrari has had a very long courtship.

Today’s revelation was that what motivates him most is the idea of winning another world championship with a different team, ” Winning a world championship with a different (is) one of my motivations and my targets. It will put my self confidence even higher and it will be great for me as a driver. As it is in F1 at the moment it is difficult to know which team has more future.”

Asked how active he was being about finding something else he said, “Very active.”

Reading between the lines with Alonso, Kubica and Rosberg
37 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: john g
        Date: August 27th, 2009 @ 5:43 pm 

    if kubica went to williams after rosberg departed to mclaren, would that not be seen as picking up the scraps? i don’t know if he’d be all that keen to do that – kubi would not want to go a team that wasn’t good enough for rosberg, or a continually poor performer like toyota. to me, kubi will go to one of two teams. renault, who gave him his first break in F1, or ferrari – he’s very friendly with a lot of the guys there and speaks fluent italian which probably helps. he’s also good friends with alonso and i can see those two as team mates (tho maybe for 2011).
    I can see rosberg going to mclaren but it is a risk, he will not want to play no2 to lewis, but in the way the team is set up around lewis, and also their respective talents (even tho i really rate rosberg highly), it might end up that way. i’d actually love to see rosberg stay at the improving williams, and heidfeld get his well deserved chance at mclaren, to me he’s a massively under-rated driver, and mclaren would benefit massively from his development and feedback, as well as racecraft.

    [Reply]


  2.   2. Posted By: bonnie b
        Date: August 27th, 2009 @ 6:00 pm 

    JAMES,
    YOU ARE ON IT AGAIN, MCLAREN NEEDS THEIR
    DRIVERS TO SCORE POINTS EVERY WEEK. BECAUSE
    WITH A DRIVER LINE UP WITH ALONSO-MASSA,THEY
    HAVE TO KEEP PACE.ROSBERG I HOPE WILL GET
    EQUAL FOOTING WITH THE TEAM OR DO NOT SIGN
    WITH THEM,I HAVE SAID THIS BEFORE,NICO MUST
    PUT HIS FOOT DOWN AND SAY EQUAL CAR OR NO DEAL
    MARTIN,REMEMBER YOU RUN MCLAREN NOT ANTHONY HAMILTON .

    [Reply]


  3.   3. Posted By: Jasper
        Date: August 27th, 2009 @ 6:21 pm 

    Come on then James, put your money where your mouth is.
    How will the silly season play out and who’ll be where in 2010?

    Keep up the good work!

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Too early to say. Give it another couple of weeks

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  4.   4. Posted By: Werewolf
        Date: August 27th, 2009 @ 6:33 pm 

    Fascinating. If money is to be an issue, there are probably only three teams than could afford Alonso: Ferrari, McLaren and possibly Toyota. So, assuming he moves, there does not appear too much choice!

    Rosberg, I think, needs the kind of respect to lead that is sometimes difficult to achieve in a team where you may have been the new boy. If he can strike that relationship, then Williams is as good a bet as anywhere that appears open to him at the moment. At McLaren, he will, of course, have to deal with Hamilton but this will be in terms of influence as well as speed.

    There’s an appealing, closing-of-the-circle feel about Heidfeld at McLaren, which I imagine would be a strong motivator for my fellow werewolf to impress. His quiet demeanour may fit well, too, with the McLaren-Mercedes corporate image.

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  5.   5. Posted By: Nick Robertson
        Date: August 27th, 2009 @ 6:44 pm 

    I’ve got a feeling that Alonso is staying at Renault. I’m sure he’d be far more vocal about his struggles at Renault if he was expecting to jump ship in December… I also see Grosjean staying at Renault, depending on his form over the rest of the season. If it’s not good enough there could well be an Alonso-Kubica partnership at Renault next year. The two are good friends, but I doubt either one will want to be the number 2…

    As for Rosberg, It all depends on whether McLaren rate him higher than Kovalinen. If they want Rosberg, I reckon it’ll be Hulkenberg and Nakajima at Williams next year, and Kovalinen might well have to jump into one of the new teams if he wants a drive next year…

    Of course all this goes up in the air if I’m wrong about Fernando, or if Schumi suddenly decides he wants his Ferrari back!

    [Reply]

    Ferrim Reply:

    Just the opposite. I think Alonso is not being vocal at all about the problems with the Renault because he has already a contract for 2010, so it really doesn’t matter whether the car improves or not, he won’t be there next year.

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  6.   6. Posted By: Red Kimi
        Date: August 27th, 2009 @ 7:08 pm 

    Still crossing fingers Kimi gets one more year at Ferrari so he can go out with a proper car under him, rather than the F60 which is their worst car in 14 years….

    Alonso in 2011 is fine by me…. or God forbid in 2010 if Massa can’t go

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  7.   7. Posted By: Goncalo Carvalho
        Date: August 27th, 2009 @ 7:23 pm 

    Certainly the biggest challenge for Rosberg at McLaren is to be able to compete in level terms with Lewis, Kovalainen is not really running the same car so comparisons are a bit unfair. It’s also surprising that McLaren would go for someone as competitive as Rosberg after the Alonso-Lewis pairing. No wonder Rosberg Snr wants Nico to stay at Williams. But, if all these changes do occur then I think next year’s championship is going to be even more exciting, and that’s a very good thing :)

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  8.   8. Posted By: Robert
        Date: August 27th, 2009 @ 7:38 pm 

    James, I have just loaded you icon bar and have been exploring the various sites. I am a Brit but now live in San Diego (someone has to do it) and the info you and the BBC put out is so far superior to what is available here in the States, namely Peter Windsor and the Speed TV crew with David Hobbs and Steve Machet (?).

    They do a good job but I crave the kind of detail you guys put out. I started following F1 when I was six, and my only hero in life has been Jim Clark.

    Keep up the great work as I will be taking it all in over the Spa wekkend and the rest of the season.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Thanks for that. Spread the word!

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  9.   9. Posted By: Harry
        Date: August 27th, 2009 @ 7:53 pm 

    I can’t wait for Alonso to come to Ferrari so when Massa destroyes him, people can’t say its an understeering car or lack of Motivation. It will be because he is the best.

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  10.   10. Posted By: Athos
        Date: August 27th, 2009 @ 8:38 pm 

    Kubica almost won the WDC last year in a second rate car, he deserves a WDC capable car, that means Ferrari or McLaren. Let’s not forget he beat Hamilton and Rosberg in their kart days, so where is the fairness in Rosberg going to McLaren over him? What, cos he comes from the wrong country? It’s sad.

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  11.   11. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: August 27th, 2009 @ 9:07 pm 

    If/when Alonso moves to Ferrari, I doubt he will be able to emulate Schumachers’ achievements, simply because Alonso is not a driving (pun intended) force like Michael. Michael was the star and he had a huge influence in the team motivating and getting what he wanted. Another major reason is that Ross is now the opposition and his incredible ability to run the whole race in his head with different fuel loads, stopping laps, tyres etc is now working against Ferrari. In theory everyone has computer systems to do that, but somehow Ross is still better at it than all the others.

    [Reply]


  12.   12. Posted By: Paige Michael-Shetley
        Date: August 27th, 2009 @ 9:24 pm 

    James,

    Some people have passed around the rumor that Raikkonen might return to McLaren to partner Hamilton in light of Alonso going to Ferrari. Speed TV in America made mention of it during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, and someone on the BBC blog speculated about the possibility. Martin Whitmarsh has gone out of his way to publicly praise Raikkonen at points this year, and there’s the matter of him being so certain about Alonso going to Ferrari at Valencia. After all, how could he speak so authoritatively about the situation if he didn’t have an inside track on the level of negotiating with a Ferrari employee who’d be affected by the move?

    What are your thoughts on the possibility of Raikkonen going back to McLaren, and what, if anything, have you heard about the subject?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    It seems very unlikely to me. They have Hamilton, they need another driver who will push Hamilton, but it confuses things if you have two drivers expecting to win the championship. They had a great combination in Hakkinen and Coulthard, with DC close enough to win on occasions but not as strong as Hakkinen.

    [Reply]

    Paige Michael-Shetley Reply:

    Well, if there’s one team who has been more than willing through its history to employ two championship-contending drivers, it’s been McLaren.

    [Reply]

    Peter Reply:

    I would love to see Kimi in a Mclaren again, but I am not sure Mr Anthony Hamilton thinks the same.

    [Reply]


  13.   13. Posted By: Hammad
        Date: August 27th, 2009 @ 9:46 pm 

    Well, looks we have sort of got the informed conjecture we were looking for. Thanks James. Erm, question though. Why wouldn’t Kubica head to Mclaren if they offered it to him? I’m sure Mclaren have considered him, and I consider him a better driver than Rosberg.

    And on another note, it is interesting how Raikkonen seems to have raised his game now that his seat is apparently under threat. But I doubt Ferrari would keep him if Massa recovers for next season. Why would you want a driver who only performs well when his seat’s threatened over one who always gives his best?

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  14.   14. Posted By: christopher labrooy
        Date: August 27th, 2009 @ 9:56 pm 

    A Kubica / Rosberg driver combination would be great for Williams. A strong pairing like that would signal that Williams are very serious about fighting for championships in the future and would give the team and sponsors an extra spring in their step.

    Surely Kubica must be talking to Mclaren too. Why is no one talkling about this as a possibility? Are Mclaren worried about Kubica upsetting the apple cart? I bet Lewis would love the Kubster giving him a run for his money.

    [Reply]

    Hammad Reply:

    Yeah I suggested that… No one else seems to have considered it though. I’m sure Mclaren would rather get him than Rosberg, despite the pressure from Mercedes.

    [Reply]


  15.   15. Posted By: Cabby
        Date: August 27th, 2009 @ 10:09 pm 

    A driver never knows how good a team will be in the next season, but he will always know beforehand how much they will pay him (unless, of course, contracts have a strong performance bias, tell me?), so I would not (never ever!!!) underestimate money.

    Maybe Williams have less money than other teams, so they are paying Rosberg less than he has shown he is worth, so McLaren might have some attractio for him, even with Lewis as a teammate, always being the team’s title contender.

    Kubica has to move, being well paid by BMW, he will be willing to take a pay cut as long as the team is competitive AND committed to F1, meaning he probably won’t go to Renault (or Toyota…).

    Alonso will go to Ferrari, and they will have to pay Raikkonen a lot of money to let FA drive, maybe he will be the best paid Rally driver in a Fiat Punto Rally team!

    [Reply]

    Jeremiah Reply:

    For that money they´ll also have Raikkonen tightening screws at the night shift in Maranello, along with ten members of his family.
    Lou drives a hard deal

    [Reply]


  16.   16. Posted By: Carl M
        Date: August 27th, 2009 @ 10:55 pm 

    I think Alonso will end up at Ferrari alongside Kimi. This would be a great driver line up, both world champions pushing each other to the limit. It would be like Senna and Prost.

    Kubica would be an ideal driver for Renault along side Grosjean. This would work well as a team.

    I can see Rosberg ending up at Mclaren, he deserves the drive, having done an excellent job at williams, as Kovalinen has simply not been quick enough over a grand prix distance.

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  17.   17. Posted By: Persk
        Date: August 28th, 2009 @ 12:55 am 

    Do you realise Lewis Hamilton was beaten by Nico Rosberg in F3?

    [Reply]


  18.   18. Posted By: Graeme
        Date: August 28th, 2009 @ 9:04 am 

    Hi James

    My 2 cents is Alonso has a Ferrari contract for 2011 and with Ferrari trying to pay off Kimi, there is a unknown if Ferrari can take Alonso. The pause button is on for Alonso and hence the comment last weekend, is Alonso is the driver key once again. If Alonso leaves Renault, then Kubica is the solution, if he stays then Kubica has to go else where. And even Glock has not contact with Toyota and Toyota not signing off the budget is going to make them very driver unfriendly. I think Kimi is playing hard ball, but if Massa is out for an extended period then who knows. Also I can’t see Alonso/Kimi relationship working. Also I battle to see Massa moving back into #2 role either.

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  19.   19. Posted By: Mike
        Date: August 28th, 2009 @ 9:07 am 

    Bobby K was fighting for WDC last year and now he has no offer from any top team?

    [Reply]


  20.   20. Posted By: chaopstheory
        Date: August 28th, 2009 @ 9:08 am 

    People asking why not Kubica – McLaren combination? It would ruin his career, like it did for Kovalainen, and even two times world champion had a problem there. So if you don’t like Kubica you can wish him a drive at McLaren :P I like him and I wish him better.

    [Reply]


  21.   21. Posted By: Felangeo
        Date: August 28th, 2009 @ 10:45 am 

    Hi James,

    Excellent blog. Your ability to communicate the intricacies of F1 while maintaining the entertainment value should never be underestimated.Keep up the good work.

    I personally think that the best driving partner for Lewis would be Timo Glock.

    They have a good relationship, he is German, he is solid,tenacious, fast and a potential race winner but crucially unlikely to be championship winner.

    What do you think of him and his chances James?

    Felangeo

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Cheers Felangeo. I think Glock would be a very strong choice. Only question mark for me would be consistency. In GP2 he was up and down, and in Toyota it seems that way too.

    [Reply]


  22.   22. Posted By: Amritraj
        Date: August 28th, 2009 @ 11:05 am 

    I think FA will stay put at Renault. I think he will drive for Ferrari in 2011. I don’t think there is any sense in firing a driver like Raikkonen with a year left on his contract. Kimi still is the most naturally talented and fastest driver on the grid. He is getting great results in a car which is underdeveloped.
    Although Alonso is a great, great driver, he is not worth firing Kimi for him.

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  23.   23. Posted By: Red Kimi
        Date: August 28th, 2009 @ 12:26 pm 

    If Ferrari were to get Alonso they would have to pay Kimi $12+ mill Euros as well as give some sort of compensation to Renault who have him signed next year. Hard for me to beleive that Ferrari think Alonso is so good compared to Kimi they will pay probably clsoew to $20 mill Euros to get him, plus his salary.

    Flav has never put anyone in a car even close to Alonso’s speed. He had a fast teammate one time… oh yes, that Hamilton kid… and how did that go?! Alonso stopped his car in Higary to block, claimed he did not get equal treatment or equipment in China and turned the team over to the FIA for a $100 mill fine… Sounds like a swell guy and a real team player!

    [Reply]

    mingojo Reply:

    yes, Fernando stopped his car in Hungary after Lewis decided to take the last flying lap that race which it was Fernando’s. Also Lewis started a war with Fernando in Monaco saying his team didn’t allow him to win which it was not possible. After Hungary, MM gave to Lewis the bst strategy over Fernando.And MM had confidential data from Ferrari and it was known not only by Fernando, De La Rosa and Coughan, but also was known fo senior management so Fernando and De La Rosa did what FIA asked them to do.

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  24.   24. Posted By: Jos The Boss
        Date: August 28th, 2009 @ 3:02 pm 

    It has to be Quick Nick, he’s outperformed every team mate he’s ever had in F1. Unfairly passed over in 2001 but it would be karma if he were to get the McLaren gig next year. He would be perfect in the DC role, apolitical and unlikely to rock the boat yet quick enough to win when Lewis Faltered. You just need to look at the great results he’s had when grip was at a premium (Silverstone, Spa Last year) to see he’s inherently very quick.

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  25.   25. Posted By: Jeremiah
        Date: August 29th, 2009 @ 2:42 am 

    Anyone that goes to McLaren has to deal with Anthony Hamilton. Anthony is an unpredictable character and likes to stir trouble. He wants his son in charge and no mó

    [Reply]


  26.   26. Posted By: Adam
        Date: August 29th, 2009 @ 11:57 am 

    I know it’s not possible, but I’d really love to see Kimi, Schuey, Massa and Alonso all at Ferrari, a much improved evolution of the F60, so we could see them all duke it out to see who really is the best. Gosh it would be epic. Heck throw Hamilton in one too and have them all race eachother around a truly great track like Spa or Suzuka.

    [Reply]


  27.   27. Posted By: Jakey
        Date: August 31st, 2009 @ 3:03 pm 

    Hi James,

    Will the announcement of alonso- ferrari be at monza or somwhere else? Who will be announced as fernando’s team mate?

    Thanks,

    Jake

    [Reply]

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