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Hulkenberg and Raikkonen the key drivers as thoughts turn to 2014
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Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Jul 2013   |  4:41 pm GMT  |  268 comments

There is always some movement of drivers in F1 from one season to another and there is usually one driver who holds everything up.

This year the situation is slightly different as the retirement of Mark Webber creates an opening at the sport’s top team, Red Bull. This has fired a starting gun on driver movements for 2014.

As a result there is some action in the paddock with drivers’ agents getting busy making conversation with team bosses.

Kimi Raikkonen is in the frame for the Red Bull ride, up against Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne. While Sebastian Vettel was effusive in his praise for Raikkonen yesterday in the FIA press conference, hosted by JA, that could just as easily be because he knows that the Finn won’t be his team mate, as that he will.

Raikkonen has his supporters within the team, but there is a sense that, for Red Bull’s junior programme and its backers, Ricciardo is in the box seat at the moment. He said on Saturday that nothing is decided yet and Raikkonen reiterated that on Sunday.

Meanwhile Lotus are very keen on Nico Hulkenberg. He has been in discussions with them for some time. If Raikkonen stays at Lotus, it will be interesting to see whether they look to hire Hulkenberg anyway, or whether they stick with Grosjean, who had his strongest weekend for a while in Germany.

The team is never quite sure what it’s going to get with the Frenchman on any given weekend and he still has only 35% of the points of Raikkonen – although twice recently he has been instructed to let him through.

Hulkenberg provides a more consistent proposition and is highly rated by everyone he has worked with.

He finds himself in an awkward situation, with Sauber at something of a financial crossroads. The Swiss team is tight on money at the moment and the story in the paddock on Sunday was that Sauber has released him from his contract should he wish to leave.

With Felipe Massa struggling again at Ferrari, as the negotiations over 2014 start to ramp up, one wonders whether they will find a way to give him yet another chance or whether this is finally the end of the road for the Brazilian.

As lead driver in Ferrari’s ‘satellite’ team, Hulkenberg has been on Maranello’s radar this season, although he has always insisted his move there was not a holding pattern waiting for a Ferrari seat.

The interest from Lotus makes his situation more interesting and raises his stock – one way or another it seems he may finally get his chance with a leading team next year, if the cards fall right for him.

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268 Comments
  1. Glennb says:

    Kimi to RB would be disasterous from a ‘harmony’ point of view. 2 roosters in the 1 team just wont work in my opinion. RB need a good to very good #2 driver, not an ex WDC. I think it’ s time for them to show the faith and give one of the TR boys the gig. They don’t need to win races, just hold their end up. Seb will do the rest if the car is capable.
    Hulk to Lotus sounds good to me.
    Time for Felipe to go. I love the guy but hey… Give Romain the job. He’s shown he will move over when directed to do so.

    1. Rich B says:

      The last thing Kimi would do is destroy harmony, can you not see how laid-back he is? When Massa beat him at Ferrari and Montoya beat him at McLaren he didn’t throw a strop or cause any fuss. Plus vettel and he are good buddies and play squash together.

      1. Rob says:

        “When….Montoya beat him at McLaren”

        What? Which parallel universe did this happen in?

        Kimi scored almost twice as many points in their full season together in 2005 and was ahead on points when his F1 career came to an end (after running into Kimi) at US GP in ’06.

      2. Phil R says:

        The one where Montoya at times out qualified and outraced him. Yes Kimi did better overall, but there were quite a few circumstances against Montoya (that McLaren had to build a whole new front suspension as he needed more front end, “Tennis” injuries etc…”.

        It only took a couple of times for Fisi to get one over on Alonso for him to throw his toys out of the pram at Renault, though he does seem to have improved on that side of things now.

      3. Rich B says:

        did i say over a season? you must’ve read it in a parallel universe.

      4. Rob says:

        You’re seriously suggesting that scoring ~twice the points of JPM in 2005 (their only full season together) is not an accurate reflection of how Kimi wasn’t beaten other than on an occasional basis and certainly not to the extent that Kimi would be have any reason to be rattled, fuss or throw a strop?

        Whatever….

      5. Tim says:

        can you not see how laid-back he is…
        Seriously, do you imagine any of the drivers in F1 are laid back? When Kimi is under stress you get more of an insight into his real personality – remember the radio message, ‘leave me alone I know what I am doing’, his tone wasn’t exactly calm and laid back was it?. Trust me, Kimi’s laid back persona is all an act for the press and public;-)

      6. Joel says:

        You Sir are 100% correct.

      7. Rich B says:

        I meant laid-back compared to other F1 drivers. Still, stress during a race is far more intense and completely different to how you handle yourself out of the car when your teammate is doing a better job. How often did you hear Kimi was disruptive in the team because his teammate was beating him? Or any other reason? Maybe lack of leadership at Ferrari.
        He is a very competitive person and of course he’s disappointed if he finishes behind his teammate, but that’s because it means he didn’t win. Kimi likes to race, do as little PR and testing as possible then go and do his own thing, which usually involves having a drink or two. That is why I like him.

      8. anijs says:

        then he would not pose a problem assuming vettel beat him. but what if it is the other way around? sebastian does not seem to handle a faster team mate very well.

    2. gudien says:

      Seems many assume this opportunity is for Kimi to decide. On the contrary Herr Mateschitz is the leader at Red Bull. It’s Mateschitz whom kept Webber around because he liked Mark, and it’s Mateschitz whom will decide the next driver at Red Bull. Horner, Marko, et al are only paid employees.

    3. Nick says:

      If Vettel wins this year, that will be 4 Championships on the trot. I think that he needs and would relish the chance to go up against the straight talking Fin; in the same machinery and on the same level.

      If not to prove it to himself, then to prove it to everybody around that its not just the car that makes the driver. Everyone loves Kimi and speaks so highly of him, that to take him on head to head in the exact same car would provide Vettel with the challenge he needs.

      A No. 2 Driver would probably just create a stale environment for Vettel and he may Hamilton it to another team for a new challenge; plus it would make the whole “We’re looking for champions” from Torro Rosso seem absolutely pointless since it would be in fact “We’re just looking for someone to drive behind Seb and not actually challenge”

      Even so, I think its between Kimi and Ricciardo at this point, relying on Ricciardo to keep up to consistent qualifying and a more points scores; but as Kimi said, he’s not in this for the driving…he’s in this to win races and championships, and if he see’s Red Bull giving him that chance after the poor performance of the Lotus team in the last few races, then why not move.

      1. SH says:

        Vettel wants to beat Schumacher’s records – all of them. To do that he needs a compliant team mate, not a challenge.

        The team needs a solid number two to pick up points for the WCC, not epic battles and carbon fibre strewn the length of every track.

      2. Tornillo Amarillo says:

        It’s funny we do lot of calculations about drivers and performances in qualy and race, but it could be the new engines and regulations put everything upside-down…

        Maybe Mercedes finally gets the edge, but who knows?

      3. Veena says:

        They will get the edge after a secret tire/engine test in 2014.

      4. Jolgas says:

        Nick I doubt very much that Vettel “would relish the chance to go up against the straight talking Fin; in the same machinery and on the same level” He does not like a level playing field and demands to be treated as the number one. Kimi would be mad to go to RB. Much better for a nice guy like Ricciardo to go there who can be exploited as Webber has been. Vettel needs a number two driver around so that he can take pieces from his car as happened previously and get out of his way on the track. 100% it’s gonna be Ricciardo. When Webber does finish his career after his stint at Le Mans and the end of his RB sponsorship it’s gonna be very interesting what he has to say about all this.

    4. Kimi4WDC says:

      This rooster analogy is for old greedy man like Monte, who failed to bring Titles to Ferrari the day he sold his soul to Santander. Ferrari would had more titles by now if they would have stick to Kimi and Massa combination.

      1. Arnie S says:

        How?? I can support Kimi, but if ALO can’t win in a Ferrari, why should Kimi be able to do so.

        Ferrari’s problem is Ferrari, i.e. the car

      2. Veena says:

        Because he had already won them two Constructor and one Driver championships. Alsonso had lost his +2 secs.

      3. H.Guderian says:

        JUST PERFECT!!!!

      4. Haydn Lowe says:

        I have to disagree with that. Kimi looked ready to stop in 2009 despite seeming OK with Massa beating him in 2008, and I think that by anyone’s standards his performances after his sabbatical have been, on average, world class. Yes, as a Ferrari fan I loved having Kimi in the team, but if he’d carried on I think he might have imploded in 2010 and maybe quit for good, leaving the Scuderia in crisis and possibly depriving the fans of the participation of this most enigmatic and brilliant of drivers.

      5. H.Guderiam says:

        But ALO was not BEATEN BY MASSA in three years, right??? (Know what I mean???)

      6. Elie says:

        Yes but FERRARI AND KIMI allowed Felipe to win when Felipe was very quick. everyone knows since his accident – he was not the same driver- hence Fernando / Ferrari would never allow it – they can suck on it now can’t they- got them nothing !!- karma I love it.

      7. H.Guderian says:

        Elie, don’t get me wrong. Kimi is a top notch driver but simply cannot win in a Ferrari now. NO ONE CAN. ALO, HAM, VET… No one. Ferrari’s car is a JOKE. Alonso is doing a GREAT job in the last three years, considering the car he has.

      8. Elie says:

        Not too sure – on some circuits it was mighty quick- Canada , Spain it was mighty and Australia, Malaysia not too shabby either (forgetting incidents ).

        This highlight one thing to me- its not an easy car to get just right- when they do it is easily next best in race trim. That can’t be said for Lotus (or others – merc for eg) except for the odd really hot track.

    5. Grant says:

      You sound like a Vettel fan who’s scared that Vettel will be ‘found out’.

      1. Glennb says:

        Haha… I’m a Webber fan. I could care less who beats who at RB next year. Kimi vs Seb is fantasy league stuff but (in my opinion) not good for business.

    6. H.Guderiam says:

      Very funny the “harmony” thing.

      Thing is that Kimi will not “move over when directed to do so”. That’s why VET fans are having a nightmare with the possibility of see VET facing Kimi next year. Kimi will not tolerate to be ambushed by the team as well (as Mark was). Finally we will see how good VET really is.

      1. Dane says:

        Nobody seems to listen to team orders at RBR anymore. Webber (Silverstone/Brazil last season) or Seb (Malaysia). It would be business as usual with Kimi at the team.

  2. Dave C says:

    Hulkenberg is a really fast driver and would be a handful for any of the top drivers, in my opinion the Hulk should be in the Redbull’s choices for the 2nd seat next year, if not Ferrari should sign him up as there are small signs of decline from Fernando Alonso as well as Massa, if Redbull wants to compete with Mercedes next year they cannot afford to just put Ricciardo or Vergne in the car so you’re right James the stock of Hulk is highest of the midfield drivers.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      So fast in fact, that in his first season, Barrichello beat him soundly.
      Before you suggest that it was because he was a rookie, Maldonado had the measure of Barrichello before seasons end.

      1. Grabyrdy says:

        Not sure we watched the same races. Hulk usually works the same way. He takes a bit of time at the beginning to suss it all out, while always keeping it on the island, and from May or so on goes quicker and quicker. He did it at Williams and again at FI, against some pretty serious competition each time. I’m sure he’d do a Kimi-sized job at Lotus.

      2. Andrew M says:

        He was a rookie :)

        Anyway, Hulk has definitely had more stand out performances (pole position and challenging for a race win) than the other midfield contenders for a promotion. I’m worried his career will go the way of the Heidfelds of this world though – solid and unspectacular but never quite making the grade. Hope I’m wrong.

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        You missed the point, Maldonado was also a rookie. Yet he’s had a pole position, ok Lewis got dsq but he won the race. Yet he’s always called a pay driver..

      4. adityafy says:

        @hero_was_senna
        huh? Maldonado had only a point in his rookie season. He got the success in Spanish GP on his sophomore year. and he’s not consistent, unlike Hulkenberg who I believe have a lot more potential

      5. Phill says:

        hero was senna – So what you’re saying is it is unheard of for drivers to improve at differing speeds and how good they are during their first season is how good they’ll be for the rest of their career?? Haha what drivel!

    2. Skan says:

      I agree, Hulk is an underrated drivers who I will put in the same class as Rosberg. I am looking forward to seeing what he can do in a top car. Unfortunately, he will be vetoed by Alonso at Ferrari.

    3. All revved-up says:

      Hulk at Lotus would be a wonderful opportunity for Hulk to establish himself as a potential WDC contender.

      It’s great that Lotus is talking to him.

      1. Phil Glass says:

        I agree Hulk is the best option for Lotus if they can get him.

        But I fear that Lotus was really flattered with the presence of Allison and Raikkonen. With both of these out Lotus will be once again a lower mid pack team.
        Hulk will keep them there, for sure. But there will be no more wins. No more glamour. No more mixing with the folk at the top.

    4. Haydn Lowe says:

      Was Hulkenberg not Schumacher’s tip for the next great German driver before Vettel arrived on the scene? I agree that, if he’s not in a RedBull next season he should be in a Ferrari – Massa has had his chips as far as I’m concerned. He turned around last season, but he’s been a joke so far this one. Alonso has looked a bit flaky at times this year, and the team have really needed Massa to step up which he hasn’t done. Yes, he’s been unlucky at times, but performances moving between unlucky and crap are quite simply unacceptable.

      1. Oz Geeza says:

        Spot on,Massa use by date expired in Hungary
        ever since he has been just ordinary or below.
        He had five crashes in the last four F1.
        One have to wonder why Luca d M a shrewd and
        very capable man,being voted a European
        Business Manager of a year persevere not only
        with Massa but Tombazis and Domenicali they
        have fail miserably since their appointment
        to the top job.
        As for Hulkenberg, he’s Ferrari bound, has
        what it takes,youth and back bone.

    5. Elie says:

      He is a good driver but he is not a great driver- he makes mistakes – moving over on drivers when there is no need too.. Quite often costing him position or a DNF . Think Brazil 2012 on Hamilton it was a bit careless IMO. He has alot to learn but driving with a great driver- he may well become one.

    6. Tyler says:

      Signs of decline from Alonso? Not hardly, very few drivers could get what he has out of this years Ferrari.

  3. AuraF1 says:

    I could see Hulkenberg replacing Button in a few years time when Jenson calls it a day – although I’m sure the Ferrari seat is tempting, he’d always be second driver to Alonso and then (I’m assuming) Vettel when Seb moves over in 2016/17 to replace a retiring Alonso. The Hulk definitely needs a top drive though – but I think he can afford to wait. Apart from Bianchi (possibly) none of the rookies are really setting the world on fire (that wasn’t a pun based on Bianchi’s GP cookout BTW).

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      A day already called Button :)

    2. Dan says:

      Ah, silly season begins! Something to keep us busy at least.

      Any seats going for KOV? Outisde bet at Ferrari?

      And which of the rookies will get a second season?

      1. AuraF1 says:

        Does silly season ever end any more? We seem to start talking driver moves during the winter tests now!

  4. shri says:

    Very interesting.

    If Kimi moves to RB then all sorts of muscial chair can happen.

    However if RB ultimate (Dietrich) decides to go with RB juniors Daniel/JEV then lot would depend on Grosjean or Massa to NOT perform so that Hulkenberg can take their seat.

    While he is rated highly, this year not sure how much extraordinary things can Hulk can show with Sauber and hence the car struggling. His team mate is no yard stick. Obviously we do not want Sauber to fail.

  5. IanC says:

    Interesting that your colleague, Gary Anderson, thinks Bianchi would be a better selection for Ferrari than Hulkenberg.

    1. James Allen says:

      In time I’d agree

      Ferrari don’t take drivers with only 1 year’s experience though. He needs more time in F1 first

      1. Ezio Auditore says:

        Forgotten Gilles Villeneuve already have we? The canadian barely had a race’s experience and Enzo called him up to drive the T3.

      2. Athlander says:

        Enzo Ferrari died in 1988.

        Formula 1 has changed a lot since then – even more so than the late 70s when Gilles Villeneuve joined Ferrari.

        Ferrari is a different organisation these days. The “spirit” may be the same, but in all other respects it’s a modern operation, with different financial and commercial interests to consider, different F1 rules to follow, and more criteria to consider regarding drivers beyond them being fast.

      3. Jarv027 says:

        Jean Alesi got a Ferrari drive after just 18 months F1 experience in 1991

      4. Steve says:

        Gilles?

      5. krischar says:

        Agree james

        Yet for me Bianchi seems to be a better option than Hulkenburg

        Bianchi, well what i can say ? I am really impressed with this lad.

        Bianchi has whipped chilton apart. Some unbelievable lap times in a slow marussia

        One to watch out for the future, ferrari should bring in bianchi when massa is done. Jules can learn and improve alongside alonso.

    2. Marybeth says:

      Ferrari needs 2 new drivers. Since Kimi has experience with how Ferrari operates he could go back and take up his place as 1st driver there & they would not have to break in 2 new drivers at the same time. I doubt that Ferrari wants to run against Vettel & Kimi at RBR. Alonso went to them with Santander money and bamboozled them.

      1. H.Guderiam says:

        You forgot that Kimi was beaten *BY MASSA* and was fired by Ferrari. Why would they hire him again???

      2. Marybeth says:

        Michael Schumacher was afraid that Kimi would break his records so as a multi-million $ consultant he told Ferrari to try to get the WDC for Massa, making Kimi Ferrari’s 2nd driver in ’08 & ’09. After Massa had his accident in ’09 they reverted to making Kimi their first driver & he won Spa, Ferrari’s only win that year, in the F60 beast, & got 4 out of 5 podiums in a row, without any new updates since the summer vacation. Ferrari ask Kimi why he had not said anything before. He said,”I did’. They did not listen to him. They listened to Schumacher who controlled Kimi’s car development. The only time in Kimi’s career that he was not allowed to control his own car. Ferrari thought that for what they were paying him, they could trust MS to look out for Ferrari’s best interests. They were wrong.
        Kimi is presently making the Lotus look better than Alonso is making the Ferrari look.

      3. Sebastian says:

        Beaten by Massa after being rear ended by Hamilton when standing at the red light in the pit lane, loosing a very likely win. And some really crazy strategy mistakes by Ferrari. That season would have looked very different if it was only decided on track.

      4. Veena says:

        How conveniently forget that Massa was beaten by Kim for WDC, which was the last one won by Ferrari not to mention the Constructor championship. If Kimi was screwed up, it was after MS joined Ferrai.

        By the way where is that Super man Massa now? Why he is often seen eating grass? In a inferior car Kim has got more points than him in the last two seasons.

    3. Norman says:

      How about Bianchi to Sauber in exchange for engines

    4. Tim says:

      Interesting that your colleague, Gary Anderson, thinks Bianchi would be a better selection for Ferrari than Hulkenberg….
      I wouldn’t take too much notice of what Gary Anderson says, in a months time he will have done a complete u turn ;-)

      1. simini says:

        +1

  6. Sid says:

    Raikkonen vs Vettel is really mouth watering. Hope RBR take on Raikkonen and Hulk goes to Ferrari or Lotus

    1. H.Guderiam says:

      Forget about it. They will never put anyone who can destabilize the wonder kid (but I’m praying to be wrong).

      1. justafan says:

        They have Webber.

      2. Simon Mawdsley says:

        They = Marko + Horner

        Unfortunately “they” do not own RBR. Kimi could not be a better fit for the brand if he tried, and that’s what Dietrich (sp?) cares about

  7. LewisTheBest says:

    “although twice recently he has been instructed to let him through.”

    The team created the situation where TO is required.

    -In silverstone, kimi was way ahead of Romain and Alonso. Ferrari pitted Alonso, Lotus didn’t pit Kimi to cover Alonso instead they pitted Romain, leaving Kimi out longer. When kimi finally pitted, he was fallen behind Alonso and Romain.

    - In Germany, Kimi was ahead of Romain again, but they pitted him behind the traffic chaos despite still lapping faster on those old soft compound than those on medium compound. He ended up losing time to Romain that opted to stay out.

    Is that how they treat their no.1 driver?? Putting him on losing ground instead of fighting ground with the leader??

    1. Antti says:

      I agree, based on live timing I couldn’t understand why Lotus pitted Kimi so early for his first stop in Germany. I think it may have been due to Kimi not having done any longer stints on the softer tire during practice sessions; they didn’t have enough data to know how his tires would degrade and took no risks. As a result, he lost 10 seconds and the position to Romain, and while the safety car erased the gaps, the lost position definitely denied Kimi a better shot at passing Vettel.

      Also, both times Romain was instructed to let Kimi pass, Kimi really was faster than Romain, and given the WDC standings, it just makes sense that Kimi doesn’t have to use up the tires when passing his team mate.

      1. Elie says:

        I will go further and add there has Never been a moment when Kimi was not about to pass Romain when He was let by anyway. He may have been quicker at certain stints in a few races over the last 2 years but he has never been quicker than Kimi over a race distance – even when Lotus has made a mistake with strategy.

      2. justafan says:

        Romain was faster than Kimi in the last races. Hence why Romain was ordered to move over for Kimi, because Kimi is Lotus’s #1 driver.

      3. Elie says:

        Justsfan if he hadnt moved over Kimi was about to pass anyone as in every occasion over the last 2 years. The delay in letting Kimi pass quite possibly cost A chance to pass Seb

    2. Bruce says:

      You can’t have it both ways, complaining when they don’t cover and like in Germany, when they do.

      Do you really think that Kimi was faster than Romain on the weekend? I certainly don’t think so, and all the commentators that I heard were of the some opinion.

      1. Bruce says:

        I do concede that he was faster for a few laps when he was on new softs near the end of the race.

      2. Elie says:

        They weren’t new either – they were Used

    3. C Lin says:

      Yup. But you must know Boullier is not just team principal…

      Maybe we will see Kimi in RBR next year.

      1. Tim says:

        You are correct. I am surprised the conflict of interests has been allowed. If I was a team owner, I would not be very comfortable with the arrangement.

  8. Cuba says:

    Points mean money, a lot of money at the top. Kimi is a proven points machine, the TR guys, not so much.
    I think if Kimi swapped cars with a Toro Rosso driver he’d still finish ahead!
    On top of this, there’s big rule changes next year – who would you think is most adaptable?

    1. Tealeaf says:

      Yes Kimi is probably the most naturally talented driver and would be a better bet than Ricciardo for next year, I could be wrong but he won’t be a match for Seb.

      1. brandon says:

        I don’t think any of the TR drivers are capable of getting as many points in the Red Bull as Mark Webber did.

      2. Mark V says:

        I think Kimi’s natural talent makes him a big threat next year. There are huge changes to the regulations and with little testing an adaptable driver could have a big advantage, especially at the beginning of the year while everyone else is still trying to get up to speed. (Remember how quickly Kimi got to grips with the cars after two years away?)

        And since the cars will be quite different, this may erase a lot of the the advantage Vettel may have against a new teammate at RBR due to a shared unfamiliarity with the new car.

  9. Arya says:

    I will be the happiest to see Nico get finally his due. He is a fine driver with calm head on his shoulder. I can’t believe that Ferrari has not stitched him yet. What better options are they going to get? Vettel remains elusive and the form of the team in last 3-4 years will not help them to snatch Vettel from RBR. I do not see anyone else on the grid who is close.

    Keeping fingers crossed that Nico gets the best.

    A bit off topic but want to know about another fine driver who has been on sidelines thanks to Dr. Helmut. James, any idea of we will see Alguersuari in F1 anytime soon??

  10. Mojo66 says:

    Raikkonen’s body language just prior to the podium ceremonies looked to me as if he’s already signed at Red Bull. I think it is the best opportunity because RB had an alround car for the last couple of years, whereas Lotus seems to have found the sweet spot this year by chance. I’d guess the negotiations mainly revolve around how to deal with PR events.
    The Hulk is a wasted talent in this year’s Sauber. He should be in a Lotus or a Ferrari. Massa is history.

    1. Tyler says:

      I’m with you, (and Johnny Herbert said this too) I think the deal is already done with Kimi and RB.

  11. goferet says:

    Originally, I didn’t think Kimi would leave Lotus because of the nice environment and the fact that he’s the clear number 1 driver at the team.

    But after Lotus has made a couple of mistakes and Kimi let his unhappiness known especially after Silverstone and add that to the fact Hulkenburg’s contract has been cancelled, this can only mean there’s going to be swapping of seats come the end of the season.

    Also Kimi must have got assurances from his good mate Vettel that in 2015 he would leave the entire shebang in his hands and seeing as Newey/Horner would come with the package, this alone would really tilt Kimi to the winning team if he wasn’t sure on what to do.

    As for Massa, I think he will get another year every year till Alonso retires for in Alonso, he has a teammate that has got his back.

    As Luca said, it’s not in Ferrari organization’s structure to have the number 2 roaster taking points off the lead roaster and in Massa the team has the perfect teammate.

    As for those WCC points, Ferrari aren’t too bothered as they already earn much more £££ from the FIA irrespective if the win or not.

  12. Twiinzspeed says:

    It is time for Massa to go. I am a Ferrari fan and have stood up for Massa in the past. But it is more and more obvious that he is not going to be consistant enough for a team like Ferrari. Hulkenburg would be a great wing man for Alonso. He is fast and pretty steady. Massa is just trying too hard to fix things. I hope Kimmi goes to RBR. That would put some pressure on Vettel and prove if he is as good as some peoplee say. On that note, I doubt Kimi gets the drive. Ricciardo is talented but is young enough to know his place in the team. Either way, RBR is in great shape. Back to Ferrari, I think there are several choices to replace Massa that would be great. Sutil should be in the mix as well.

    1. JohnBt says:

      [Massa is just trying too hard to fix things]

      Agreed and it’s making things worse.
      Very stressful for Massa.
      Sportscar in the card?

      1. Twiinzspeed says:

        Either that or maybe Stock cars at home in Brazil. If being near his family becomes a priority. Although he is better than many others in F1. I think it would be a pride issue to move to a lesser team from the Scuderia. But that would possibly remove the pressure and allow him to regain his mojo.

  13. SteveS says:

    I’ve heard that Sauber is in serious financial difficulties and may drop out of F1. Anything to that, James?

    1. Jordon191 says:

      Apologies for not being James, but he and others have mentioned creditable reports that Hulkenberg is not receiving a paycheck at the moment, and is therefore free to opt out of Sauber at any time. He is one of the few mid-field drivers that actually commands a decent salary that isn’t paid for by personal sponsors, so I guess the thinking for Sauber’s bean counters is to let him go and get in another well-sponsored pay driver.

  14. Rednas says:

    “Although twice recently he (Grosjean) has been instructed to let him (Raikkonen) through.”

    True, but on both occasions Raikkonen was much faster than Grosjean. He would’ve overtaken him eventually so I don’t think this really matters.

  15. Olli says:

    I personally don’t see why Red Bull would want to take the risk of destabilising the team with Kimi.

    Vettel obviously has what it takes to win titles, and with Daniel, Jean-Eric or Paul they’d probably have a second fiddler strong enough to secure them Constructors’, provided they still have a world-beating car.

    Worse yet, should there be any indication of favoritism – actual or perceived – toward Sebastian, it might prove a massive PR blow to Red Bull, given Kimi’s outspokenness and popularity.

    1. Andrew says:

      Vettel won’t get any credit even if he wins 7 or 8 straight titles if it’s against Ricciardo for the next 4 years. People will say that he just has the best all round car (which is still true).

      So for his own reputation he needs to go up against a proven top driver like Kimi, Alonso or Hamilton. Senna did it by beating Prost in his own team. Then afterwards beat Berger whilst Prost beat Mansell. So there is no doubt who was the best.

      Schumi never dared to do it until late and compared badly to Rosberg when he eventually did it.

      So even if it’s not Kimi who goes to Red Bull then it should at least be somebody with proven speed like Hulkenberg or Maldonado.

      If they get Ricciardo then it will just show that it really is Vettel who runs Red Bull, but I hope that he sees what he could gain by going up against Kimi for a couple of seasons.

      I do think Kimi would beat him over time.

      1. Bruce says:

        I don’t like Vettel at all, he has always rubbed me the wrong way. However, I fail to see how ANYONE can doubt his driving ability. He is at least the equal of anyone in the field, it is not his fault that the Bulls have often (not always) had the best car.

        The younger Kimi may have gone ok up against finger boy, but even experience can’t quite cover the loss of nerve and raw speed as you age.

      2. SteveS says:

        “If they get Ricciardo then it will just show that it really is Vettel who runs Red Bull..”

        It won’t show anything of the sort. If I were running Red Bull I’d probably go with Vergne or Ricciardo, regardless of what Vettel wants. It’s more nearly the opposite – if they go with Kimi it will be a nod to Seb’s wishes.

      3. andrew says:

        Well I’m envious that you’re so close to vettel that he can confide his feelings to you!

      4. hero_was_senna says:

        I am staggered that you mentioned Berger in any paragraph with the others.

      5. andrew says:

        Well after 1988 & 1989 there were those who said that mansell and Berger were faster but didn’t have a mclaren.
        Berger was as quick as Mansell, and could occasionally beat Senna.

      6. BenM says:

        It’s interesting so many people assume that if Ricciardo joins Vettel that it’s guaranteed that Vettel will domintate Ricciardo.

        I’m starting to believe that Ricciardo’s problem is that he’s out qualifying the potential of the car and is looking the worse for it when he has to try and drag it around out of position during the race.

        I suspect Vettel would have more of a challenge on his hands than people expect should Daniel end up at RB next year.

      7. Bart says:

        How is Maldonado supposed to be better than Ricciardo, who’s doing well at STR?

        Vettel doesn’t need to prove anything to boost his reputation, as he is currently the best performing driver on the grid. For entertainment value though, I’d love to see it be Vettel and Raikkonen.

      8. Andrew says:

        Winning in a Williams. Being flawless when he had his chance to win. His team mate at the time was a decent driver who matched Heidfeld but he, Senna, was nowhere near. Maldonado would fly in a Red Bull.

        Ricciardo may be good but he is totally unproven.

      9. Bart says:

        @Andrew –
        And that win, which I have to say, was very good, still accounts for over half his career points. That isn’t because Maldonado didn’t have the car to score points regularly, but rather because of the litany of mistakes and brain-fades Maldonado had. Maldonado shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a top team until he shows he can match speed with consistency.

      10. Bart says:

        Point taken about Ricciardo being “unproven” though.

      11. Jordon191 says:

        I think this is spot-on, Andrew. Vettel is a guy who craves a challenge; he doesn’t need yet another couple of WDC’s with a clear number 2 as a teammate and the best car. He is thinking about his legacy at this point, or certainly will be if he wins his fourth title this year. Beating a Ricciardo next year would do little on the ‘legacy’ front, but soundly beating Kimi certainly would (which, I fear, is what would happen — even Kimi half-joked that Vettel is ‘a bit better’ than him after Germany). I bet Vettel is making some strong statements to the RB power structure demanding that Kimi be given the seat.

    2. hugy says:

      Kimi’s outspokenness and popularity is precisely why I think they should choose him. If Red Bull is lacking something, it’s popularity with the fans.

      Besides, Kimi’s consistency would secure the WCC and Vettel is going away in 2016.

  16. Lewis Greaves says:

    Good! Hulkenberg deserves a shot at a top team!

  17. Anne says:

    Lotus is thinking about Hulkember.That´s interesting.It would be good for both of them. Recently I read that Di Resta said he wishes to go to Ferrari to honor his italian background(or something like that)I don´t think Ferrari cares much about background. What are the odds of that happening?

    1. Jimmy the Snake says:

      I rate Di Resta. Fast , steady and can make tyres last for ages. Reckon he’s far more rounded racer than Hulk

    2. Jeremy J says:

      Hulkember… Is that the month when he wins all his GPs?

      (this is a light-hearted comment)

      Di Resta in a Ferrari would be interesting, but I can’t see it happening with all his Mercedes connections.

    3. Martin says:

      What’s Santander’s presence in the UK like? Ricciardo’s chance at Ferrari is probably limited by the one branch in Australia. There is a compelling argument (which doesn’t make it correct) that from May 2008 Ferrari started working on a story about Kimi’s motivation to crowbar him out of the team for Alonso in 2010. Massa was kept over Kimi due to Santander’s presence in Brazil.

      Di Resta’s Mercedes connections are less helpful now as McLaren is no longer an option and Hamilton has locked out the non-German seat in the team (I believe Mercedes will aim for German drivers if competitive). He hasn’t been on Red Bull’s radar and Lotus is only #5 on budget at best and doesn’t have a secure engine deal. So Paul looking for a Ferrari drive makes a lot of sense.

  18. Andrew Carter says:

    Massa started the year well but since China has pretty much looked like the driver we’ve seen for much of the last 3 years and not the man that pushed Alonso hard at the end of last year. It’s time for him to find employment elsewhere I feel.

    It’s nice to see that Lotus and Ferrari are both taking an interest in Hulk, I’ve been a fan of his driving since he cleaned up in A1GP years ago.

  19. gumo says:

    Kimi to RBR! Lightning fast, immune to Dr Marko’s machinations, politics free… nah! too dangerous for blue eyed boy

    1. Bart says:

      Kimi is good, but he lost to Vettel on Sunday.

      1. Elie says:

        By .7 in a Lotus..not a Red Bull can you imagine- if he started p1 or 2 in a Red Bull .. Nuff said

      2. Bart says:

        You’re saying that as if Lotus weren’t fast. Lotus had the fastest race car in Germany according to the team themselves, and either Kimi Raikkonen or Romain Grosjean (who still both did well) should have won the race, but did not.

      3. Elie says:

        Yep they should have won. If they kept Kimi out longer in the first stint and bought him sooner on the last stint when he had a comfortable lead almost 17 sec to Romain and 16 to Seb he was by far the fastest in the mediums. Even with the strategy they had on the softs had they got Grosjean out the way sooner he might have attacked Seb sooner – Silverstone too they left Kimi out when he asked to come in- he was a real chance to take the win. Lotus must be smarter in their strategy calls it most certainly has cost them at least one victory already!

      4. gumo says:

        too right! and I think over a season on a fair and square fight he would probably beat Kimi. My point is that at the moment RBR WANT Vettel to win. With Kimi being so quick and so difficult to rattle with politics or machinations (jumping car noses come to mind) it may be too close for comfort for Sebastian’s garde de corp at RBR. Can’t see the rather sinister Dr Marko liking the idea

  20. All revved-up says:

    Kimi should go to Red Bull.

    He has not enjoyed a consistently strong car in his F1 career, and time is running out.

    Who knows if the Lotus or Red Bull will be a stronger car next year – but the odds favor Red Bull.

    The last 30 laps of the German GP I thought gave a taste of where Kimi would be in equal machinery. Right on pace or thereabouts.

    Who knows if Vettel/Kimi Red Bull would parallel the Prost/Senna McLaren dominance. But why not give it a go.

    F1 is full of uncertainties. I just feel there are more uncertainties staying with Lotus than joining Red Bull.

    At this stage of Kimi’s career, you don’t want another 2 or 3 years in a car that is almost but not quite there. Look at Hamilton and Alonso – a WDC drought despite their talent. The reason is simple – wrong car at the wrong time.

    Senna’s clarity of thought comes to mind – he left McLaren for Williams to be in the best car. Was he 100% sure Williams would be the best car? No. Just make a judgement call and go with it.

    Red Bull have a stable and proven technical team, under world class leadership. And well funded. There are more uncertainties with Lotus.

    1. Bart says:

      “He has not enjoyed a consistently strong car in his F1 career, and time is running out.”

      2003, 2005, 2007, 2008 at least.

      1. Elie says:

        2003/5 his Mercedes powered Mclaren blew up many times and would easily have beaten Michael a Schumacher and Fernando Alonso respectively – so no it wasn’t consistent.& yes he would be triple WC -many know this.
        2007 he was WDC
        2008 Ferrari whilst fast was not a match for Mclaren

      2. krischar says:

        2008 Ferrari whilst fast was not a match for Mclaren ? What are you talking about

        2008 Ferrari was mighty fast, if anything massa showed plenty of pace and one the key reason why massa fought for the WDC is simply because the F2008 was lot quicker than mclaren

        Kimi was beaten and outpaced by massa, this alone reflects how mighty the F2008 was.

        Credit to lewis because he kept slower mclaren in the title hunt

    2. krischar says:

      YOu have summed it up very well

      ” Look at Hamilton and Alonso – a WDC drought despite their talent. The reason is simple – wrong car at the wrong time”

      I could have not put this any better

      Alonso and lewis are a cut above the rest easily. Yet they have not titles to show for it, because of the poor machinery consistently.

      It’s painful to see two of the best drivers in the grid fighting for the scraps and not for the titles.

      Kimi to BRR will be a mouth-watering prospect. I am no FAN of kimi yet i still believe kimi will wipe the floor with vettel easily and win WDC.

      Pace is a common aspect between kimi and webber. If any thing Kimi is more consistent than webber.

      1. Bart says:

        If I’m not mistaken, you think that Kimi and Webber have the same pace(?), but Kimi is more consistent than MW, and that will somehow wipe the floor with Vettel?

        If so, your post is laughably wrong on so many levels.

  21. Oli Campbell says:

    About time. I hope the Hulk gets a good seat. One of the few midfielders who’s properly earned their pass into F1

  22. Ronnie says:

    The silly season is in full swing!

    I’d love to see Vettel and Kimi together in RB. The two were quite flattering to each other on Sunday. Vettel admittedly “looked up to” Kimi, and Kimi, to my great surprise, said that Vettel was a little better.

    Don’t know how much Kimi is paid right now? On the web it seemed to rang between 3-5 million Euros? Mark is paid 10? Lotus is not flush with money, right? Kimi cares about money and wants to win races and championships. Kimi embodies the spirit of the red bull drink in my opinion without having to do anything. They’d be good for each other I think as well – a little bit more Vettel in Kimi and a little bit more Kimi in Vettel will make the two greats even greater. Also, it’s an opportunity of a life time for both of them to prove themselves how far they can go. And RBR will reap huge reward as a result. Plus Kimi likes to be left alone. Horner and Newey can continue their love fest for Vettel without having to deal with accusations of favoritism…adding those all together – not a bad case at all!

    As a long time Vettel fan, I don’t mind the risk of Kimi beating Vettel. It would be great to watch how Vettel overcomes it.

    The Hulk is great. Would love to see him against king Alonso in the red car.

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      Don’t think Kimi cares much for money, especially after his Ferrari stint, he is packed!

      1. Ronnie says:

        What I meant was that in the F1 interview he admitted that piggybank was part of his consideration.

        http://www.formula1.com/news/interviews/2013/7/14775.html

        “Q: People dismiss lightly that money could be a decisive factor for you but, on the other hand, it is no secret that money makes the cars go round. What role could a well-stocked piggybank play in the decision process?
        KR: The money is one part of it but there is also another side to the coin. Whatever the decision will be, it will be very similar to what the situation is now in terms of the ‘piggybank’.”

  23. All revved-up says:

    Red Bull should go for Kimi.

    Red Bull will be fighting a very strong Mercedes team next year – two strong points scoring drivers.

    Red Bull needs to get the best drivers its budgets allow.

    Not the best driver from its junior squad driver training program.

    To say that Red Bull has spent a lot of money on Torro Rosso and therefore it should limit its choice of drivers to the TR drivers, is reverse logic and penny wise pound foolish.

    The driver training programme is to open up to possibilities that the best driver available may not be in the other top teams, but may be a Schumacher/Senna/Vettel – just needing that opportunity.

    It is not meant to limit driver choices.

    RB needs the best driver pairing going into 2014 against Hamilton/Rosberg. Mercedes are not going to stay rear end limited next year.

    Look at Ferrari – they have not been competitive in WCC with Massa. No matter how good their car.

    In 2014 – a team contending for WCC needs the two best drivers its budgets afford. Whether that driver is from the junior team is irrelevant. You want the best you can get – if you are serious about competing against the best.

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      I think you right sir, if that Merc will get anywhere close to Red Bull’s all around pace. Nico and Lewis will be pushing them like there is no tomorrow.

    2. krischar says:

      “Look at Ferrari – they have not been competitive in WCC with Massa. No matter how good their car”

      You are wrong mate

      When was the last time Ferrari produced the quickest car in the grid ? 2008 (F2008)

      Why Ferrari have not won any WDC or WCC for the past 5 years ? Stefano and the engineering crew were dumb and ineffective

      Massa has not performed well over the past 3 seasons ? TRUE

      Is it entirely massa’s fault ? Not really

      What about Ferrari’s in season development sucess ? Zero and beaten by a drinks company consistently

  24. jmv says:

    It is true that Red Bull could look at its junior drivers first, however Kimi has had a few Red Bull outings too:
    - WRC entry with Red Bull sponsorship
    - Snowmobile race with RB sponsorship
    - Nascar outing with RB sponsorship

    And even in F1 during his Sauber debut, the team was Red Bull sponsored.

    In this sense Kimi cannot be disqualified as not being associated with the Red Bull family.

  25. Hiten says:

    Anyone knows if Paul is going to stay with FI next year?

    1. Rob says:

      Can’t see where else he’d go. It’s not like Red Bull or Ferrari or even Lotus would want him above other available options or why he’d leave FI to go down the grid to… Sauber, Williams, Caterham? Unless he’s kicked out, or can no longer afford seat at FI

      1. Hiten says:

        Thanks

  26. Daniel G, says:

    If Kimi ever lands a Red Bull seat, the team will break all records in WCC points achievement. I sincerily think that the opponents won’t stand a chance because Vettel is an outright winner and Raikkonen will always be there or thereabouts, sneaking the odd win from Vettel’s hands and also being there when Vettel isn’t. Alonso, Hamilton, whoever is on Lotus and McLaren will be thrashed.

    This will be the best team with the best driver pairing in a long long time.

    1. K says:

      Unless the Mercedes engine will be superior to the Renault one and it won;t matter if you have Newey or Vettel or who ever on your side, Merc engined cars will dominate.

  27. Chris says:

    I hope Kimi goes to RB and Massa retires so there are openings at Lotus and Ferrari. I would like to see Hulk move to Ferrari and Kobayashi return in either a Lotus. I think Grosjean is still too inconsistent to hold a seat at a top team. He should spend some time at Sauber or below and see if he can improve his consistency.

    1. u2jewel says:

      1 seat opening at ferrari and 1 opening at Lotus.

      Hulk and Kob should fill those places up. Undecided who should go where… either combo makes sense. Both of them going to Lotus can also make sense. Good blend of youth and experience from both drivers.

      Grosjean… What can I say?
      I know life is not fair and that not everyone can get the same amount of chancecs, but he has had more than his fare share, and has produced more negatives than positives.

      He has had surreal protection from a biased manager who also happens to be head of Lotus. The speed of his people talk about, let me tell u guys, almost all of the current drivers on the grid can show (if they had the luxury of knowing, like Grosjean does)if they could afford to overdrive or drive a lot closer to the limit with higher risks.

  28. David Goss says:

    Red Bull have to think about the long term as well as the short. It looks like they’ll lose Vettel to Ferrari in a few years, and by then Kimi will be over 35. Who will be their number 1 in 2016 or 2017?

    1. hugy says:

      JEV or Ricciardo will be experienced enough by then. Their time will come. Right now, they are a gamble.

    2. Bayden says:

      There’s a good chance Red Bull won’t remain in F1 (as a manufacturer at least) once Vettel departs, there is a sense this would be perfect time to get out having achieved its’ objectives.

      1. David Goss says:

        That’s a good point, I didn’t think of that. No guarantee they’ll stay when Vettel/Newey leave and/or their winning streak ends.

      2. Rockie says:

        Why do people keep saying this rubbish that redbull would pull out of F1 they sponsor a lot of high adrenaline and performance sport competitions and have never pulled out, since 09 been earning a lot for their participation in F1 so why would they pull out not like the owner is short of cash?
        Also they have the highest investment in F1 as a company.

    3. Elie says:

      Very Good point david.. I just saw this earlier which kind of backs this up :
      http://www.autoweek.com/article/20130709/f1/130709841

  29. Rob Newman says:

    I also have a feeling that Kimi won’t be going to Red Bull next season. Kimi is very talented and not cheap. But his consistency makes him very attractive.

    Ricciardo is good but is his performance consistence? Can he keep it lap after lap for an entire grand prix?

    Compared to Kimi, Ricciardo won’t be a big threat to Vettel. Drivers like Alonso wants a bigger say in who their team mate will be because they are scared to have a stronger driver who will beat them. But Vettel won’t care who his team mate is. After all it will not be his decision nor Horner’s; It will be Herr Mateschitz.

    1. krischar says:

      “Alonso wants a bigger say in who their team mate will be because they are scared to have a stronger driver who will beat them. But Vettel won’t care who his team mate is’

      Complete joke and makes no sense

      Vettel does not fear anyone ? Do not KID yourself

      There are plenty of drivers out there who can beat vettel in the same car (Kimi, Nico, Alonso, Lewis, JB)

      Webber matched vettel for pace only his consistency has let him down otherwise webber could have added few WDC”s to his name as well

      1. Bart says:

        Webber doesn’t match Vettel for pace at all dude- look at their qualifying record- 63 Vettel, 21 Webber.

        I understand that JB didn’t disgrace himself against Lewis, but no way he’d be better than Vettel in the same car. Nico is alright, but Webber beat him at Williams. Kimi, Alonso and Lewis would be pretty close with Vettel (even then, they’d still be unlikely to be ahead of the triple champ IMO).

  30. Olli K says:

    Kimi to RB, why? Simply because RB is clearly after constructors title! LH and NR at Mercedes is too risky next year to take a second class driver. SV with 4 titles anyway next year isn’t their main consern, the other title really is.
    And Kimi hasn’t got his salary from Lotus this year, i’ve heard, and that closes it. Kimi to RB.

  31. Jonathan says:

    Kobayashi to Ferrari, the Hulk to Lotus!

    1. Chris says:

      That wold be exciting!

  32. NoMU says:

    Any one for Kobayashi back to Sauber or in at Ferrari?

    1. K says:

      Sauber backstabbed Kobayashi, so no.

    2. T Nelan Esq says:

      Bring back Kamui!!!

      1. NoMU says:

        Bless you Sir! Yes, its all so sterile without Kamui San.

    3. Rob says:

      Hahhahahahahahahah

      1. NoMU says:

        We shall see who laughs last.

    4. u2jewel says:

      For Kamui’s sake, he should not return to Sauber.

      If Ferrari are serious about replacing Massa, the contenders are Hulk and Kamui only, IMO.

      Fisi has been away too long, Jules Bianchi not mature enough.

      Kamui has had a session in the SPIDER simulator at Ferrari already, in preparation for future development works…

      1. NoMU says:

        Yes, his recruitment into the Ferrari WEC team was no accident. A shame they were outclassed at LeMans – looked to be down on power to both the Astons and the new Porsche.

  33. cc says:

    Perceptive of you James to note SV’s praise of Kimi. I’d take that to mean he knows Kimi is not coming. Can’t imagine Seb wanting Kimi as teammate. Do you attach any significance though to Seb only re-signing for only one more year (I think that’s what it was)? Do you know if Red Bull had wanted a longer contract?

    1. James Allen says:

      Well he was sitting 10 feet away from me when he said it, so not that perceptive.

      It was only fair to give Kimi a chance to respond, which I did

      1. Ronnie says:

        That was great! Thank you.

        Now why would Kimi say that? Understood that he’s straight talking and all, but is it ever good to say that someone else is a bit better than you in F1?

    2. K says:

      And Kimi said that Vettel was a little bit better than him, right after Vettel finished. So it’s not just Vettel praising Kimi.

  34. Jonathan says:

    Some very interesting points but I think there is something else that needs considering.

    There are likely to be some big shocks next year. The cars are going to be significantly different. We will not find out until next year just how the engines are going to work out for reliability. One is likely to be faster but less reliable… but which one? One chassis is going to be more able to cope with the changing torque levels – but which one?

    Adrian Newey is known for producing very tightly packaged cars – will the Renault engine cooling work out? Newey was at McLaren when a very tightly packaged new design ended up left at home in favour of the previous year’s car.

    Next year is likely to be a lottery. Significant driver moves might be better left until the following year.

    Add to that Alonso and Massa, Button and Kimi are all in their twilight years with Vettel potentially looking for a change soon.

    I cannot see Kimi going to RB without some knowledge about a short term move by Vettel. Ferrari need to plan a future team leader and need a new second driver now. The future of F1 is very uncertain. Maybe the floatation of FOM is further away than Bernie thinks!

    A future WDC for Rosberg looks quite likely… Paul Di Resta could luck into a WDC if he stays at Force India.

    The only thing certain for next year is that there will be some big surprises. It might even make F1 fun to watch again.

    1. Rob Newman says:

      ‘Ferrari need to plan a future team leader’ … do you think they have got a team leader currently? If they have, then clearly he (or she) is not doing the job.

  35. Zombie says:

    Does Sutil has no takers ? The man is incredibly talented and consistent. I wish he would get a stab at one of the top 5 teams.Trouble is, except for Massa, none of the other 9 drivers in top 5 teams look as if they have any threat to their jobs.

    1. Chrishb says:

      Had one stab so far

    2. Pat Byrne says:

      You just mentioned ‘Sutil’ and ‘stab’ in the same paragraph :-). He’s a bit dominated by Di Resta this year – can’t see him being a candidate.

    3. Midnight Toper says:

      He’s ready had a stab at Lotus, ask Eric Lux.

    4. Matthew Cheshire says:

      I’m counting 6 seats are almost certain- Vettel,Alonso,Hamilton,Rosberg,Button,Perez. Obviously Kimi will be somewhere, so that leaves 3. If Sutil has proven to be a better proposition than Massa, Grosgean, Hulkenberg, or even Ricciardo, then he should find a seat, surely?

      1. Matthew Cheshire says:

        Ok probably not at Lotus..

  36. Valerio says:

    It would be great if Davide Valsecchi (current Lotus third driver) would find a seat next year. It’s kind of crazy that the current gp2 champion didn’t find a seat in f1… but I guess money talk$.

    1. wenner says:

      Just shows how far GP2 has fallen in standing compared to WSR. GP2 has priced itself out of the market for the young talents and is more a rich daddy pay driver club nowadays. Red Bull and McLaren have placed their juniors in WSR, the current 3 times F1 champ went the WSR route, never bothered with GP2 … after Grosjean no top team touches these old GP2 guys anymore.

  37. "Martin" says:

    IMHO the best ‘up and coming driver’ is Paul Di Resta.
    Horner should get out his cheque book and get an option for him for 2014 in case Kimi doesn’t want to come.
    And Lopez should do the same in case Kimi decides to take the RB shilling (millions of…).
    Paul would be foolish to bet his future on a chance that Ferrari will call NOW.
    Regards,
    “Martin”

    1. Irish con says:

      Come the end of last year when nico settled in at force India he smashed Paul di resta. His Brazilian drive was way above anything Paul’s done in f1 up till the crash. Paul’s a good driver but nico is a very good driver.

      1. Philip J Fry says:

        You mean at the end of the year when Di Resta’s car had chassis damage that went undiagnosed for the last few races?
        I would say it was pretty even between them with Di Resta ahead after Singapore and then falling behind in the last 3-4 races with the chassis damage and the mental blow of losing the McLaren seat on the back of a lack of sponsor appetite for 2 british drivers at McL again.I fail to see how Di Resta was smashed at any point. Infact there were at least two instances last term when Di Resta still managed to bring the car home in the points whilst suffering fairly major issues such as lack of DRS for a full race and a knackered gearbox. Such things are the mark of a very good driver. Hulk managed to throw away a podium in his excitement at Brazil which is pretty unforgiveable imo. I would say that Di Resta’s drive to 4th in the sauna of Singapore showed a level of control and consistency way above anything Hulk has shown so far. I can only conclude that on their day in the right machinery they would be a match for anyone in F1 and I’d like to hear how the engineers at FI found both of them from a development point of view.

      2. Irish con says:

        Hulkenburgs results after British gp last year- 9th, 11th, 4th, 21st, 14th, 7th, 6th, 8th, DNF, 8th, 5th.

        Di Resta’s results- 11th, 12th, 10th, 8th, 4th, 12th, 12th, 12th, 9th, 15th, 19th.

        That’s a smashing in my book in the same car considering in Italy his car broke in first lap of q1 so he started last and also in Singapore the safety car cost him on strategy. Nico is a future world champion. Paul isn’t. The end.

      3. Philip J Fry says:

        You might want to average out those placings! Also, remember the safety car in Singapore also cost PDR a podium. If you average out the season, even if you remove the DNFs and the best/worst finishes to remove flukes there is still less than half a place between Hulk and Di Resta and half a place does not a smashing/domination make. It actually swings in each drivers favour depending upon how you cut it. Even if you review their head to head season by bringing in qualifying and including or excluding strategy errors and team mistakes there’s basically nothing to choose between them. Using the same methodology across all teams shows just how tight it was between PDR and Hulk. Most teams had approx 2 place diff. There are alot of people with short memories here. I also think there’s a little bit of fashion following going on. Hulk demonstrates his personality better than PDR (Andy Murray syndrome) but if you watch some of the FI home videos when they were team mates they are both very humourous guys.

    2. Ronnie says:

      Di Resta’s been saying bad things about Vettel for years now. Yes he beat Vettel in F3 and is a great driver. But the man carries a piece of loud over his head on a constant basis. Feels very negative.

    3. Elie says:

      It make it simple for you Martin Paul Di Test – Pffff

  38. Thompson says:

    I am alwasys amazed how some drivers have the ability to convince those in the paddock, media & observers they are the real deal – even though they have proved nothing or achieved very little.

    Hulkenburg as done nothing to warrent any sort of kudos in the sport. The defection from FI proved a disaster and maybe with the exception of Brazil last year I don’t recall him doing anything outstanding.

    Saying that I don’t want to see Kimi at RB, he’ll slip into ice cream eatting mode – once he realises just how fast Vettel is in a Adrian Newey designed RB with RB budget – to try to keep is Iceman image alive.

    Kimi is a grown man now, he no longer has the do or die attitude or desire to achieve the times Vettel can produce at every race.

    Ferrari should consider Kovi – the 2nd RB seat is a tuff one – they should give Heifield a call, maybe.

  39. Michael S says:

    Kimi to RB could be a nightmare, We see it takes time for a driver to get used to a team and them used to him. Kimi looks a ton better this year now that he bonded with Lotus. Hamilton has taken some time to get to terms with Rosberg at Mercedes. RB is built for Seb. The biggest advantage they would get with Kimi is a driver with a HUGE fan club and Seb could say “I beat a WDC on my own team”.

  40. Kirk says:

    Ferrari has said they just want to be worried about next year’s regulations and I think the same as someone said above, Massa will be in Ferrari as long as Alonso stays there or Massa retires by himself. In my opinion, that’s bad for Ferrari and Alonso (because defeating his current team mate is too easy), we would need to search when was the last time Ferrari had two top drivers.

    1. Glennb says:

      1990
      Prost & Mansell

      1. justafan says:

        And both screwed up, while only Schumacher and Räikkönen delivered Ferrari titles. The first ones since Scheckter in the 70′ies.

      2. buttox says:

        no, they did not screw up, Prost would have been world champion for ferrari if senna hadn’t deliberately taken him out in japan!

  41. Irish con says:

    Everyone agrees that nico is a top quality driver but just how good is the question? I think he is the best driver in f1 behind fernando, seb, kimi and Lewis. That’s how highly I rate him. If I was Ferrari he would be in the 2nd Ferrari next year for sure.

  42. "Martin" says:

    PIT STOPs procedure.
    Gary Anderson is suggesting that pit stops should be slowed down in the interest of safety, perhaps by limiting the Nos. of pit crew to 10 (currently it’s 22 ish…)
    but in my view that doesn’t necessarily make it safer.
    I suggest it need three observers to release the car safely. Two standing at the back, pressing their green light only when ALL removed tyres, wheel guns and hands are 10″ from the car’s wheels.
    Third observer monitors the pit lane, driver can only leave on seeing 3 green lights.
    It, or something like it might have to be mandatory.
    A minimum time of 3 sec. would probably be sensible idea too.
    Regards,
    “Martin”

    1. JohnBt says:

      Can you imagine team principles in helmets for the whole race? Safe but strange though.

      Maybe the should use a leash on the cars, until all is clear, like a wild animal caged up wanting to burst out.

      Motor racing somehow will kick up new unusual incidents all the time. Safety is at all time high IMO.

    2. Neil says:

      The problem with slowing pitstop lane speeds is you take away different strategies available to the teams. In Australia, V8 Supercars has a pathetic 40Km/h pitlane speed limit and therefore, if a car has to make an additional stop or drive through for whatever reason, they may as well park the car and go home, such is the disadvantage. Maybe everyone on pitlane should be made to wear helmets instead – lets not have F1 go down the nanny state route that seems to be out of control in so many places.

  43. dufus says:

    Daniel deserves the drive. Kimis been in top teams. Lets see what a hungry junior can do in a fast car. Thats where the excitement will be for fans.
    Daniel is young and will in my opinion bring a much younger new legion of fans.
    Did i mention he is also fast.
    Ticks all my boxes.

  44. Luke Harrison says:

    Of course Kimi has already had talks with Red Bull, he was part of their driver roster anyway in the WRC. Both Citreons were sponsored by Red Bull and when they stopped running the Junior team he carried on being sponsored by them.

    Whether he would fit in with the Politics in the F1 team is a different story and whether he’d want to. I think he’s a bit like Webber in that he wouldn’t take the nonsense but I don’t think he’s really in the sport for the “team” anyway, just his mere personal satisfaction.

    I do think though if Red Bull don’t take a STR driver then there’s no point them even owning that team, it’s a joke that they’ve already let two drivers go and are probably preparing to let another two pass by. The whole point of their development programme is for this very opportunity.

  45. Pat Byrne says:

    Hasn’t Hulk pretty much won championships in most of the feeder series he’s contested on the way to F1? That’s usually a sign of a top talent.

    However as previously mentioned he did not quite stack up against Barrichello as well as Maldanado. Is he perhaps lacking that last tenth or two in qualifying? I don’t believe he out-shone Di Resta either.

    I wish Bottas had another year under his belt to judge him. As I see it he’s at least as fast as Maldonado (who I think is flawed but VERY fast) and never throws it off the road. He also seems to have a Kimi-like unflappability…

    1. Greg (Aus) says:

      He’s certainly held up well against Maldonado this season. Hopefully Williams can improve next year and give him a chance to show what he’s capable of.

  46. Kobayashi & Hulk to Lotus. (Strong Team for Lotus)
    Kimi to Redbull.
    Ricardo to Ferrari. (Perfect Fit IMO)
    Roman to Sauber.
    Massa to retire.

    1. u2jewel says:

      I agree with u 99%, except I would say Hulk and RIC to Lotus and KOB to Ferrari, since he is there already, and has done some works in the simulator.

    2. Robert says:

      Nope, nope nope. Paul is the man for Lotus and Kimi should stay at Lotus,if Kimi leaves.. Lotus should really consider their superstar Kubica! He should be back in F1

  47. J says:

    Having Kimi at Lotus gives the viewing public 4 top teams to follow, I honestly prefer this than a dominant redbull where the whole championship is a two way competition between vettel and Kimi.

    Plus, and no one seems to be considering this, what if Ricciardo comes in and beats/matches vettel. It’s in the realm of possibility.

    That’s a season I’d want to watch.

  48. KevinL says:

    Bianchi to Lotus would make sense, no? A Frenchman for a Frenchman? Bianchi is more consistent in his first year than Grosjean ever was.

    Kimi should should stay with Lotus, they’ve built the team around him. Plus, he’s horrible at politics. But Hulk wouldn’t be a bad replacement should he decide to leave.

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      How about both Hulk and Kimi at Lotus?

      1. KevinL says:

        Surely the sponsors would prefer a French driver. Or would they want the best driver?

    2. krischar says:

      Bianchi is a top notch driver

      Very quick and too consistent in a slower Marussia.

      Impressive jules

    3. Robert says:

      Ah.. Do not forget Lotus is located in GB + Bianchi was in the young drivers program of Ferrari..

  49. Phil R says:

    Does anyone know how long Hulkenberg signed to Sauber for? If only this year (which I can imagine him wanting, and Sauber at the end of last year agreeing to) then surely the contract cancel doesn’t mean so much as its better for his career to keep driving and impressing, even if it is for free. If it is a multi year deal, would it not be the case that sauber have given up an asset that they could be paid for in the same way that McLaren Mercedes paid for Raikonnen?

    I imagine the twist of a future Ferrari deal for him/cheaper engine deals complicates this. I don’t think Sauber have confirmed their engines for next year yet?

  50. SteveS says:

    I get the sense that Nico Rosberg is not entirely happy with the extent to which he’s being asked to take a back seat to new boy Hamilton. If a spot opens up at another good team (Ferrari, RB, Lotus, McLaren) he might decide to throw his hat in the ring.

  51. JohnBt says:

    Kimi can have anyone as his teammate but can Vettel or Alonso, nah I don’t think so for one bit. Simply because the iceman is no brat.

  52. C Lin says:

    Next year it would be great if we see

    - Vettel & Raikkonen in RedBull
    - Alonso & Hulkenburg in Ferrari
    - Hamilton & Rosberg in Mercedes

    fighting for WDC & WCC!

    1. Robert says:

      Nope.

  53. Methusalem says:

    I think Hulk has a very good chance of joining RB. He is better motivated and more passionate than Kimi. I also believe he could beat Vettel there.

  54. Anop says:

    James, I know we won’t know which engine manufacturer has got the V6 turbos right maybe until January next year but what does history tell us? Which engine manufacturer had the edge when last time such a change was introduced? Thanks!

    1. James Allen says:

      Good question, Renault was a bit behind when the V8s were introduced, as I recall

      This is different technology though and it has a lot to do with the manufacturers existing expertise in small capacity efficient turbo hybrid engines

  55. hulliby says:

    Does the fact that Webber has such a good relationship with Dietrich, combined with his personal financial backing and mentoring of Ricciardo, help Ricciardo’s chances in any way? Or is it all far less political than that (as one would hope)?

  56. Endres says:

    Seems to me that nobody is asking the more obvious question.

    What driver is a better “Red Bull” driver?

    Which driver is going to solidify, high expectation, market penetration for RB products and sales?

    Kimi is a world brand unto himself.

    (Schui is an empire) (Ricardo is a convenience store)

    F1 is not a sport, it is a Business. The two will (hopefully) always be mutually exclusive.

  57. Rob G says:

    Kimi’s run of consecutive points finishes is exactly what RB wants and needs. The money comes from the constructors championship so they’ll want to give themselves the best opportunity to win that while either driver wins WDC. The only reason Ricciardo/JEV gets the drive is because RB has spent $$$ and time building up their young driver academy and so far only Seb has come out of it.

    1. DC says:

      RB currently needs marketability – I am sure booing of the winning driver in Montreal didn’t pass unnoticed. They need a new star and there is probably no better driver to fit RB marketing strategy than KR. I expect announcement before August brake.

  58. ShaBooPi says:

    I’m torn about all this. I like Kimi, I want him to factor in races. In Lotus he has an occasional shot at winning races, in Red Bull he would have a definite shot. I guess I do want him to go to Red Bull. As for Sebastian Vettel’s feelings, I couldn’t give a damn. I view it this way, if a true team boss were in charge, he’d bring the best driver he could in next year, because his current number 1 is only in contract one more year. The problem with this theory? Vettel is the real team boss. Ruh roh.

    As for Hulkenberg, he’s excellent and I want to see him fight for race victories. Going to Lotus would be an upgrade, except we were begging Ferrari to hire him last year. Are they really going to let him go to Lotus? The truth is, after all this time, I don’t know why people talk about Ferrari like they are a top team. They aren’t. They are truly mediocre compared to Red Bull. Only this year have they provided a better car than Mclaren, in the last few years since the championship with Kimi they have always provided worse. So in my mind they aren’t even the 2nd best team in F1.

    I believe the Ferrari is a tougher car to drive than the Red Bull or Mercedes. As much as I like Hulkenberg, Alonso isn’t afraid of him. Hulk should be afraid of the Ferrari. To be fast consistently in a second rate car that always looks a handful just shows. My take is Hulk will just be slightly faster and slightly more consistent than Massa, after a steep learning curve. And when Alonso’s contract at Ferrari runs out, I hope he leaves and joins a team that can actually give him a truly fast car. Ferrari’s only chance of winning anything is when the rules change next year and remove a lot of aero areas. If they don’t, it’ll just be another sad excuse in public relations for a bloated name, and I won’t be surprised.

  59. sandman says:

    About 13 years ago, Marko persuaded Mateschitz to withdraw their sponsorship from Sauber because they hired Raikkonen instead of the legendary Enrique Bernoldi. I wonder if Mateschitz will bother to listen to Marko this time.

  60. Elie says:

    Red Bull have a massive job next year with the new regs and powertrain . The Mercedes juggernaut has already kicked in and everyone needs experienced engineers and drivers to match them. In this regard I think Raikkonen holds the biggest key to Red Bull with his experience and speed- it’s no surprise to me that every team he joins is instantly competitive- he seems to find the best in the car very quickly- ironically exactly the same thing Mark Webber had to offer.

    James is it just me or does it appear that Lotus seem to be “showing” more support to Romain lately. Are you hearing that Lotus are pushing Kimi for a decision sooner rather than later ( even if that’s not what their saying)- because they now have options with Hulkenberg.? I don’t think Kimis open (& rightful) criticism of the strategy call went down well and his comments of “when he’s ready he will make an announcement” must surely not sit well with Lotus. I think we would all see the greatest pairing since Senna and Prost if he went to Red Bull – even for 1 season- but I just dont like what Red Bull did with Mark and I would think Kimi wouldn’t tolerate it – not even for 1 race. If Red Bull can agree equality then it should be done.

    I’ve still got this strong feeling that Kimi has already agreed in principal & it’s just Red Bull working through the finer elements of what details Kimi needs in his contract. I could be wrong but Matesitchz praise of Kimi a while ago got the ball in motion and its certainly not every day you get that sort of praise from a billionaire.

    Hulkenberg would be good either at Lotus or Red Bull but I think Lotus will miss an experienced guy like Kimi. The next few races are crucial for Romain. Despite his good performance at Germany – he’s been given far too much slack from a top 5 team and 35% of the points are simply not good enough even against a maestro like Kimi. It’s gotta be a French thing – think Rugby- they can beat anyone on a given day and then are nobodies for months. ! Massa too must go- Bianci is the man and come 2014 he will be at least ready for a no2 seat at Ferrari- if you ask me he has shown tremendous maturity so far already and he is at least as fast as every other driver after the top 6. Ferrari would be silly not to grab him.

  61. SEENAQLD says:

    ricardo lotus?

  62. Denis 68 says:

    James

    Any chance Davide Valsecchi could get an F1 race seat for 2014?. I know has no chance of getting a Lotus drive but he at least deserves a chance to race in F1 in a lesser team.

    He does have two GP2 titles to his credit. Granted he’s no Vettel, but I do believe that he is better than a number of drivers currently on the F1 grid.

  63. Mitchel says:

    I’d like to see:

    Raikkonen to RB
    Di Resta to Ferrari
    Koba to Lotus
    Hulk to McLaren

    1. Robert says:

      I can live with this one..

  64. Grant says:

    Vettel has been running upfront ‘unchallenged’ for quite a while now (collecting victories and stats).

    Teaming up with will only serve to legitimise his greatness, which naturally in question at the moment.

    Many feel his success has been mostly car and not so much him, since so many drivers in F1 today have beaten him comprehensively before.

    1. Grant says:

      *eaming up with Kimi

    2. Bart says:

      “Many feel his success has been mostly car and not so much him, since so many drivers in F1 today have beaten him comprehensively before.”

      Which drivers? You mean Di Resta in F3 again? By 11 points? Maybe we ought to still hold Webber beating Alonso in F3000 against him too.

      If it was mostly the car, his teammate (who is a solid driver himself), would finish 2nd in the championship or at least perform as well as SV, which typically does not happen.

  65. DC says:

    There are currently 2 drivers in lower teams that are worth paying attention to: Bottas and Bianchi but both are still unproven for a top team like Ferrari or RB. Maybe one of them could be grabbed by Lotus as a second driver. Otherwise, there is not too much in between Sutil, Di Resta, Hulkenberg, Kobayashi, both Toro Rosso drivers. Grosjean and Maldonaldo can also from time to time give blistering performance but are too inconsistent and I believe Alguersuari’s career is cut too short before he had a chance to prove his worth.

    1. Robert says:

      Paul is VERY consistent! I have to say you are right about Alguersuari..

  66. forzaminardi says:

    I do like Kimi, but so far as I’m concerned he’s had his time in a genuinely front-line car. I’m not especially a fan of Vergne or Ricciardo, or indeed of Helmut Marko, but one has to wonder what a driver has to do to merit promotion from STR if Red Bull choose Kimi. Obviously the answer is ‘win the Italian GP’ but in retrospect Vettel’s STR win, although completely deserved, was very much a freak result that is unlikely to be repeated. Ricciardo, and before him Alguesari couldn’t really do much more to justify promotion.

    As for Hulkenberg, I have to say he’s one of my favourite drivers, and one that has impressed every team he’s been with. Massa is a nice bloke and overall performing a tad better this season than the past few, but fundamentally speaking he’s still not much cop. He’s had more than enough chances, surely to goodness it’s time they moved on? A straight swap Massa–>Sauber and Hulkenberg–>Ferrari would give Hulkenberg the chance he deserves and let Massa round off his F1 career where it started and where his experience might pay dividends.

    1. Ronnie says:

      Vettel didn’t just win Italian GP. He had more points than all the other three RB/RB junior drivers combined. He would have beaten MW even if he DNF at Monza. And it’s accomplished with 5 Ret vs. MW 3 Ret.

    2. Robert says:

      Do not forget… Hulkenberg musn’t think doing something at Ferrari, Ferrari is the best example of 1st and second driver.. he wouldn’t get any chance.. Massa is a good driver for this, he knows he is number 2 and that it will never chance, he hasn’t got any problem with it.. I am sure Hulkenberg has a great thought about himself.. it wont work at ferrari, he is self- centered.

    3. Bart says:

      I think Alguersuari’s problem, was that in qualifying, his record against Buemi was poor. 32-14 in Buemi’s favour. And even with the 2009 points converted to the current system, Buemi beat him there too- 33 points to 31, with Buemi winning in 2009 and 2010. Jaime just wasn’t that impressive to me.

      Ricciardo is better than that. For entertainment purposes, I’d have Kimi at RBR, but I hope Ricciardo and Vergne remain in F1.

  67. Peter says:

    I think the approach that the young driver development programme should definitely lead to the top team is wrong. The goal should be to help young talents to get into F1, the sister team should employ the best drivers available regardless. JEV and Ricciardo are already in F1, if they show the same talent as Kimi, Lewis, Alonso, Vettel than O.K. they can get a top drive, but if not they should be happy to race in F1. Kimi scored points in his first ever F1 race in a Sabuer. So, qualifyig 6th twice in a row in his second year in F1 is good performance by Ricciardo, but not exceptional.

  68. Matt W says:

    Kimi to RBR would be a good move for all. It gives Vettel a chance to prove himself directly against a highly rated rival (something that is still missing from his CV), gives Kimi a top car that his performances deserve and gives RBR leverage over Vettel who has too much influence and is sure to leave at some point in the not too distant future.

    I’d wager Alonso will retire once Vettel’s contract comes up at the end of 2015, Vettel will move to Ferrari and then RBR can start promoting from their dev programme.

  69. Thread the Needle says:

    Yes, the Red bull seat is a great opportunity

    But the second red bull always seems to have its problems, starts, wheels falling off, kers
    etc

    I think Ricciardo will get the seat, they have put a lot of money into his career, plus I can’t see Vettel wanting Kimi, even if he did say he didn’t mind in germany

  70. Robert says:

    Who is the next young Red Bull driver off the rank if they give one of the current Toro Rosso drivers a shot at the big time?

  71. Trixie says:

    Kimi should continue with Lotus because I doubt that at Red Bull will a radio message be ever sent to Vettel that Kimi is faster than you and not to hold him up! At Lotus he is No.1 provided that he continues to dominate his team mate, and as complaisant as Grosjean may be, he’s been too inconsistent in his 2nd outing.
    Hulkenberg will make a fantastic replacement for Grosjean. He’s always up there for a fight given his current equipment. I’ve always rated him highly.
    Under that nice, friendly demeanour, the Hulk has steely determination and racing skills that’s capable of bringing in valuable championship points where Grosjean fails to do week in week out.

    Lotus just needs to assure Kimi of their financial viability and technical development for next year. Read that Lotus has finally paid Kimi for back salary, which obviously is priority to retain your top driver.

    Ricciardo should be given a chance at Red Bull where he can be moulded and learn from Vettel in a championship winning team.

    Good to see that the Iceman is hot property once again!

  72. Ross says:

    I noted on the BBC website that has a similar article to this one written by Andrew Benson wrote

    “The reports they are getting from Sauber about Hulkenberg have not been positive, despite the obvious promise he has shown in some races”.

    I have to say I was quite surprised to read that. The BBC don’t tend to throw about speculation. I think Hulkenburg has been excellent in a car that is clearly one of the worst on the grid. I can only imagine they are refering to his attitude. After making what on paper looks a poor career move and then not getting paid, I too would not be a happy chappy.

    1. James Allen says:

      Force India and Williams people I speak to talk warmly of him

  73. Chris says:

    Hulkenberg is a class act. I support Force India, and he’s the best we’ve ever had. Sad to see him go, but even though he went to Sauber (a competitor of ours), us fans were hopeful he’d do well and get the seat he truly deserves. If he isn’t getting paid, it shows you his first class attitude for not moaning, especially as the car has let him down a little. This type of mentality deserves a top drive.

    1. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      Ferrari should hire rightaway HULK, he beat Di Resta 63 to 46 last year, and also Schumacher, Kobayashi, and winner Maldonado. HULK is Champion material at 25 years-old.

  74. mjsib says:

    I’m reading that Sauber aren’t impressed with Hulkenberg. Does anyone know where this comes from and any reasons why?

  75. Olivier says:

    Why not extending Ricciardo’s contract at Torro Rosso with another year? It’d be crazy for Torro Rosso to start the new era with two rookies.

    Here’s my guess:

    Red Bull = Kimi and Vettel
    Lotus = Hulkenberg and Kovaleinen

  76. Paige says:

    As is usually the case in F1, very few top seats and lots of drivers chasing them.

    The way I see it going:

    Kimi stays at Lotus. He is a good fit within the team, and while he has had his moments in which he has told them off, it’s still a good fit. He’s comfortable and going fast, and if they give him one more step up in terms of car performance, he is back in the fight for the championship.

    Red Bull promotes one of the TR drivers. Which one is a question. Ricciardo has been fast in qualifying but inconsistent in races. Vergne hasn’t been as flashy in qualifying, but he has been a more consistent race performer. My guess is we won’t know which one will get the seat until later in the year. The favorite is probably Ricciardo, given the speed he is starting to really show. Either way, Red Bull needs to get something from the TR program. And since they have a few others in the pipeline who could be Red Bull drivers in the future, why not give a chance to someone who is really starting to show some speed to show what he can do in the top car on the grid?

    The big question marks for me are the second seats at Lotus and Ferrari. Grosjean and Massa both need to step it up on a consistent basis. If they don’t, there is no shortage of drivers ready to take their places. Hulkenberg, Bianchi, and di Resta are doing their level best to justify such promotions.

    A scenario I could easily see is that Grosjean and Massa lose their seats. I see Hulkenberg and di Resta taking them. They’ve been around the longest, and they are doing a very good job this year in the limitations of their respective situations. After they take these two seats (which one gets which is up in the air), I see Bianchi taking di Resta’s seat at Force India, now that he is really showing he belongs in the sport. He is already in the Force India network, and it would be a sensible step for him to take into a team that has shown it can put a car on the track that lets a driver show what he can do as part of his development.

    1. Robert says:

      I think this is the best comment I’ve read..

  77. Arya says:

    Do I hear a Grosjean to Ferrari “rumor”? :P

  78. yassin says:

    Dear James,

    I was wondering if you agree or disagree with the following regarding kimi’s options for 2014.

    2014 driver changes are not straight forward as one should think. The new engine regulation and aero changes mean Redbull are not a sure favorite for next season. We all know Red bull strength comes from their aero package.
    With more focus on engine’s next year and less on aero Kimi moving from one Renault team to another may make no difference.

    Merc seam to be confident of their 2014 engines than other teams. The fact that Williams F1 have jumped ship to Merc for 2014 proves this.

    I therefore argue Kimi to Redbull is not a big news.

  79. Sleeves says:

    After reading the comments from Dr. Marko, – ‘long-term contract and he wants Sebastian Vettel’s next teammate to do plenty of “simulator work” whilst working “awfully hard” with the team’s technical boffins ”
    This is not for Kimi!
    He will stay at Lotus!

    1. Sri says:

      That means they are looking for a donkey to help Vettel who would just come and drive after all the set-up work. Funnily Kimi also wants to be in Vettel’s position, so may be they could use their test drivers to do the donkey’s work.

  80. NoMU says:

    All this Kimi hysteria. I seem to remember him failing rather dismally when confronted with a real challenge…WRC. There is a fellow out there as nuts as hell who is so far proving he is a driver apart and surely ready to return to F1 at some point – KUBICA!!!

  81. Lap says:

    JA, I would like to see Lewis Hamilton get out of his Mercedes contract and into the second seat at Red Bull next year.

    How hard would it be for Hamilton to do this? Nothing is impossible in F1, I remember JB had a contract with Williams but was able to stay with BAR.

    Do F1 driver contracts have performance clauses on the F1 team side which would allow them an exit clause if they do not score this many points and so forth – kind of like football?

    1. Tim says:

      I think the bigger problem would be convincing Red Bull to hire Lewis as a driver ;-)
      He tried to get in for this season and Red Bull, as I understand it, said no thanks.

  82. Jon says:

    Get Ricciardo in there ASAP. As much as i like Raikkonen, i think it would be great to see an up-and-comer get the chance to de-throne Vettel or at least really really push him. Ricciardo wont be an easy beat but really, at the end of the day, only Hamilton or Alonso would beat Vettel……IMO PEOPLE!!

  83. Richard D says:

    It seems quite simple to me; Red Bull operate a “junior team” and a variety of young drivers have been given an opportunity there. This is just about the first real chance to promote one of the juniors to the senior team. They have a 3 times world champion(probably 4 by the end of the season)in Vettel so it is time to look to the future and bring in a young driver to take the second seat. Ricciado looks favourite (and the team are already accustomed to an Aussie accent!).

  84. John Turner says:

    To be honest I’ve not overly impressed with either Ricciardo or Vergne since they join TR. I think RB need to decide what type of Team they want to be, after Malaysia they said they wanted there Drivers to Race, in which case they should go for Kimi and give Vettel a challenge, but if they want to be a Team Set up around Vettel they should go Ricciardo, Vergne, Di Resta or the Hulk.

    I also think it is time for Massa to step down, while we seen glimpses, we’ve never seen a Consistent return to form. Again I think Di Resta or The Hulk would be good fits. There were also rumours not too long ago about Kimi returning to Ferrari, although I don’t see that Happening.

  85. David Goss says:

    This is really interesting to think about.

    From what James has written recently, it seems like there is some disagreement internally about whether they should go for RAI or RIC.

    Despite this, I think the seat is probably Kimi’s if he wants it – it seems like DM is keen on him and surely he can force the issue if he wants to.

    However, does Kimi actually want the seat? I get the feeling he likes it at Lotus and would be happy to stay as long as he’s assured that the performance will continue its upward trend and he will be paid on time.

    Red Bull has its obvious attractions, but it’s also very much Vettel’s team, as Webber has consistently found to his cost, and I don’t see Kimi getting on with either Christian Horner or Helmut Marko.

    Whether or not Kimi leaves, Lotus need to think carefully about Grosjean and whether he’s doing the team more harm than good – if he had scored even 2/3 of the points Kimi has so far, they would be 2nd in the WCC, but instead they are 4th.

    Hulkenberg must be kicking himself for leaving Force India now.

  86. Fellowes says:

    Whilst it would be interesting for us to see Raikkonen versus Vettel, I cannot believe such a move would be good for Red Bull – they need a solid No.2, not another title contender with mood swings (remember Raikkonen in 2008).
    I would prefer Lotus to get their act together and give Kimi a genuine title chance.
    For Red Bull, Ricciardo should be the right choice for them to support their driver program, but it would be great to see Di Resta there (otherwise Lotus).
    Hulkenberg for Ferrari should be a no-brainer.

  87. P.Relli says:

    Even more than Webber leaving, I have the feeling that the driver market will be determined by whether Lotus can snag a well-heeled sponsor.

    With enough funding, they will be able to cut Grosjean (and his 5M in Total backing) away, which would REALLY open things up.

    I expect Kimi to stay with Lotus, Hulk to Ferrari (or Lotus, if they can get another sponsor), with Riccardo going to RB (they need to show something for their Young Driver Programme):), and Massa out.

  88. Ding wamage says:

    This seemingly endless speculation will have no effect on what will happen. Kimi will decide on the basis that he will pick the team that is the best for him, and if it turns out bad, he will only have himself to blame. End of. I really like that man.

  89. Colin Watt says:

    Paul di Resta’s name missing from the rumours again. Will he ever end up in a top seat?

    1. JoeP says:

      Hopefully not. The intent shouldn’t be to reward mediocrity…

  90. JoeP says:

    If Kimi gets the seat, will that serve to confirm the irrelevance (or at least failure) of Dr. Marko, James? Since what’s the point of “developing” young drivers if you never actually succeed in getting them to the condition of being front-line/top-tier employable?

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s a good question.

      Let’s wait and see

  91. Robert says:

    PEOPLE!!
    Nico Hulkenberg?
    And seriously, did I read Maldonado? Maldonado brings a lot of money, but the amount of money the team has to have to pay all his silly, stupid and dangerous shit is huge. Maldonado is the worst driver F1 has known in the past 10 years!
    And then yes Paul di Resta!! He is competent, he is smart, he drives like many of the greats drove – by using his brains. If he is in a fight with a redbull, he won’t fight to secure points! he will back off, that’s just very smart (if you think about it). Paul is definitly the best driver of the midfield, by far!! + he is loved in the paddock, seriously Maldonado and Hulkenberg? They’re the greatest dickheads in the paddock.
    Paul is the man, he is consistent, something you can’t say about Maldonado! and Hulkenberg is maybe more a Ferrari type not Lotus… I think Paul is the man for Lotus and Hulkenberg for Ferrari (MAYBE), f1 should get rid of Maldonado.

  92. Robert says:

    Grosjean doesn’t give Lotus the results that are expected from him.

    Yes thanks! Jules Bianchi! He is good.. he is really good! He will without any doubt drive for Ferrari in a couple of years. You can be sure of that!

  93. Robert says:

    I am convinced that Paul is the best driver in the midfield for the moment.. Never forget – when Paul en Vettel were in the same cars it was Paul who was the better!! AHA..

    And yes thank you!! Robert Kubica!!! He is one of the best!A podium in the third F1 race he drove! I want to see him back as soon as possible!

    But I have to say something about Redbull.. Everybody is talking about Ricciardo.. Do you guys forget that Toro Rosso has had other BETTER drivers also? I want to read the name JAIME ALGUERSUARI !! He was good! and Sebastian Buemi? he is Redbulls testdriver AHA… Don’t forget about those two..

    1. Bart says:

      “Paul en Vettel were in the same cars it was Paul who was the better!! ”

      Yeah, just like we should judge Alonso and Webber by F3000… yeah right. Di Resta has still not made the impact Vettel did in 2007/2008, despite PdR having similar, or even better cars.

      1. Robert says:

        Bart, what do you expect from the 2014 season? driver line-ups? What you say makes sense, yes.. But can you deny that Paul is a good, smart driver?

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