Fernando Alonso will be announced as a Ferrari driver on Thursday of this week according to reports in Spain, Italy and Germany. This should in turn give rise to a series of driver moves which will establish many of the teams’ line ups for next year. It’s almost October, historically much of the grid is sorted out by this time, announcements made.
As I posted yesterday Kimi Raikkonen’s move away from Ferrari has been underwritten by Santander and by going to McLaren they get some return on investment. Nico Rosberg looks like he’s heading for Brawn, with Jenson Button caught in a situation where he’s under pressure to accept the deal on the table or possibly risk losing his seat, as Damon Hill did in 1996, his championship year with Williams.
Presuming they sort a deal out, the one to make way would be Rubens Barrichello, who is on Frank Williams’ list, along with Nick Heidfeld. But Nico Hulkeberg looks like he will get his chance and two Germans might not make sense.
Many sources are saying that Robert Kubica is destined for Renault, where presumably he will be paid more than he would at Williams – I thought a couple of months ago he would head there, but it seems that is not happening.
It remains to be seen what sponsor package Renault will be able to put together after their recent troubles, although the team made it clear that they want to stay in F1 and clean up their sporting credentials by racing on. Jarno Trulli could find himself back there again and it would probably be his best option. He fell out spectacularly with Flavio Briatore, but is still well regarded by the engineers, including stand in team principal Bob Bell. He is also well regarded by Mike Gascoyne, so I’d imagine there is a seat at the new Lotus team if he wants to go that route.
Toro Rosso are staying with the same two drivers, but there is a chance that Sebastian Loeb might do the final race of this season in Abu Dhabi with the team, according to Le Parisien newspaper today.
Heidfeld might find his face fits at Force India, which used to be Jordan when he drove for the team. It looks like Adrian Sutil will stay there for another year.
The Toyota team are not able to confirm their budget until mid November and that will be too late for many drivers to wait, so they may end up with second choice drivers as a result, if indeed they carry on racing.
Meanwhile Gazzetta dello Sport are reporting that Alonso has already been working with the engineers at Ferrari on cockpit dimensions for next year’s car and has requested some of his favourite engineers from Red Bull, McLaren and Renault be hired by the team, much as Michael Schumacher brought with him his favourites from Benetton when he joined Ferrari in 1996/97