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Driver moves to start in wake of Alonso announcement this week?
Driver moves to start in wake of Alonso announcement this week?
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Sep 2009   |  4:45 pm GMT  |  180 comments

Fernando Alonso will be announced as a Ferrari driver on Thursday of this week according to reports in Spain, Italy and Germany. This should in turn give rise to a series of driver moves which will establish many of the teams’ line ups for next year. It’s almost October, historically much of the grid is sorted out by this time, announcements made.

Picture 35
As I posted yesterday Kimi Raikkonen’s move away from Ferrari has been underwritten by Santander and by going to McLaren they get some return on investment. Nico Rosberg looks like he’s heading for Brawn, with Jenson Button caught in a situation where he’s under pressure to accept the deal on the table or possibly risk losing his seat, as Damon Hill did in 1996, his championship year with Williams.

Presuming they sort a deal out, the one to make way would be Rubens Barrichello, who is on Frank Williams’ list, along with Nick Heidfeld. But Nico Hulkeberg looks like he will get his chance and two Germans might not make sense.

Many sources are saying that Robert Kubica is destined for Renault, where presumably he will be paid more than he would at Williams – I thought a couple of months ago he would head there, but it seems that is not happening.

It remains to be seen what sponsor package Renault will be able to put together after their recent troubles, although the team made it clear that they want to stay in F1 and clean up their sporting credentials by racing on. Jarno Trulli could find himself back there again and it would probably be his best option. He fell out spectacularly with Flavio Briatore, but is still well regarded by the engineers, including stand in team principal Bob Bell. He is also well regarded by Mike Gascoyne, so I’d imagine there is a seat at the new Lotus team if he wants to go that route.

Toro Rosso are staying with the same two drivers, but there is a chance that Sebastian Loeb might do the final race of this season in Abu Dhabi with the team, according to Le Parisien newspaper today.

Heidfeld might find his face fits at Force India, which used to be Jordan when he drove for the team. It looks like Adrian Sutil will stay there for another year.

The Toyota team are not able to confirm their budget until mid November and that will be too late for many drivers to wait, so they may end up with second choice drivers as a result, if indeed they carry on racing.

Meanwhile Gazzetta dello Sport are reporting that Alonso has already been working with the engineers at Ferrari on cockpit dimensions for next year’s car and has requested some of his favourite engineers from Red Bull, McLaren and Renault be hired by the team, much as Michael Schumacher brought with him his favourites from Benetton when he joined Ferrari in 1996/97

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This is gorgeous, in that weirdly ironic way. Thank you.


Well it’s all out in the open now, a day early! Let’s hope Kimi doesn’t quit F1 completely and comes over to Macca 🙂


Hi James

I was just curious to know how the driver moves get out to the public/press in the first place?

How does it go from lawyers in a room negotiating to common knowledge, so long before the deal is announced?



I wonder if Ferrari really will be competitive in 2010. I know James has commented on this, but I can’t help but feel that the somewhat thirsty engine in the Ferrari (as exposed in Spa) will really hurt them, when they’ll have to carry enough fuel for 305km…

I suspect it was this, and not Bhp output, that Ferrari would have wanted to improve, if FIA had let them (and a few others) tweak their motor a bit, to catch up with McLaren. Presumably, now that FIA asked for Mercedes to ‘mute’ their engine a tad, they’ll be even better off, as far as fuel efficiency is concerned…

Kimi could turn out to be the luckiest driver in the 2010 grid..!


How do we know that Ferrari did not just bring in Kimi earlier than required at Spa at the same lap as Fisi, just to deprive him laps in free air? Remember, Fisi seemed faster than Kimi in free air and the only way Ferrari were going to win that race is by keeping Fisi behind them and their KERS system would take care of the rest….


Personally i think Lewis/kimi should bring out the best in both drivers albeit with Lewis maybe shading it only just…Aloso/Massa should be quite tasty on the basis that Massa already knows the characteristics of the F60 which is unlikely to dramatically change in 2010 giving him a little advantage although Fernando is as good as it gets.Should make for an interesting season next year.


We criticise drivers for making unforced errors and the mechanics for failing to attach various nuts and bolts but team managers are just a likely to be cause of their own downfall and they manage it in the comfort of board rooms.

It is a well-known adage in rugby that the only person who can score an own goal is the team selector. Some F1 team managers have the ability in driver selection that I have in picking business partners (another story).

Williams, with Hill the WDC, went for JV and then Head spent the whole of the season, and a bit of the following one, moaning about him, this despite a whole season for Head to know his failings. They learnt little from the experience and have made duff decisions since.

There seems little doubt that Ferrari are sponsor led in the pursuit of Alonso. One could say that he’s bought his drive, at least for 2010. With that sort of investment in him Massa stands no chance. He’ll be driving for another team in 2011. But for a while there will be excitement in the red team’s pits.

Rosberg and Button will also be a bit fraught. The outcome there will be fascinating. My money’s on Rosberg.

But Kimi and Lewis, that’s a difficult one. I can’t really get a handle on Kimi. For all the macho posturing of so many drivers in the past, he is the one who seems totally unflustered by the interpersonal conflicts that have beset so many other partnerships over the years.

I bet Lewis is a wee bit nervous. I have absolutely no idea whether Kimi is.

Williams needs drivers of some capability. If Rosberg moves on it will be a body blow, one which I am by no means certain they can cope with. Ed’s suggestion of Button drifting back in intriguing but not, I would suggest, likely.

Let’s face it, the modifier of silly for the season is inappropriate. This is certainly more exciting that the Singapore GP. That was really silly.


james, i don’t think heidfeld will be too keen on joining sutil at the moment!! 🙂 i think liuzzi is doing a fine job actually – i hoped he would.

drivers i’d like to see back in F1:





also, who was that japanese driver a few years back that the FIA removed his superlicense, but in reality drove about as well as massa did at the time


James, if Jenson left Brawn, what are the chances of him ending up at Williams… Can they forget his back track on the contract?



Do you think Mclaren & Ferrari will be in a better position than other teams as the KERS unit will be removed & replaced with larger fuel tanks so they won’t have to mess around too much with the weight distribution like some of the others now will?


i think ferrari have KERS (at least part of it) in their nosecone as with these big front tyres, you need a more forward weight distribution than normal.


Not really, they will all have to lengthen the wheelbase a bit. I expect both teams to be strong next year.


Have I got the facts wrong or is Red Bull the only team sticking to its 2009 diver lineup? That has to be some sort of record in itself!

Congratulations to Mr Allen for calling this one correctly months ago.


No, also Toro Rosso and maybe Force India if Liuzzi can have more weekends like Monza than Singapore in the remaining races.


Do you think Jacques will slot in anywhere next year or is he dreaming??


How desirable is a Brawn drive for next year? They were flying at the start of the season after having spent all that time and money on it (despite the winter worries), but they don’t really seem to have been keeping pace with their rivals’ rate of development through the season and I’m wondering where they’ll stack up next year.

As a Williams fan, I’m also wondering when they’ll announce their engine supplier – hopefully they’ll carry their good form through to next year and a Williams Renault will be winning races like in the good ol’ days.

James, while we’re talking about changes for 2010, what’s the chances of you replacing Eddie Jordan trackside so we can get some actual F1 insight, or replacing Legard so we have someone who at least sounds like they want to be there?


James to replace Johnathan Legard. Eddie does amuse. Even if its just the look on David Coultard’s face at the latest eddism.


legard wants to be there… problem is that no-one else wants him there (including martin brundle it seems to me, poor bloke)

agree that legard and EJ have had their chance and not impressed tho. legard just shouts out the obvious (mostly what’s happening on the screen) and offers no insight or knowledge. EJ just reminds everyone that he used to be a team owner, in between brown nosing bernie.


well said. JL is knowledgable but needs more passion. He’s too….british 🙂 Very reserved. lol. If I hear one more Jordon reference I’ll scream.

Even DC didn’t turn out as expected.

Jake is doing a good job though and MB is great as ever


I reckon Brawn are probably gonna be competing around where BMW were this time last season in 2010. The cars wont change much next season, driver style is probably going to be a bigger focus (i.e. who can nurse their tyres better over a race. Agressive drivers such as Lewis could end up making 3 stops for tyres).

Ross Brawn is a smart bloke, and I reckon he has another ace or two up his sleeve yet, maybe Brawn will try their own version of Red Bull’s pull rod suspension? On the subject of which, I’m sure Adrian Newey has a trick or two to come as well.

Brawn will have more sponsership next year as well, which will help fund their development program which has been their main issue this year. Then in 2011, they could become the Mercedes works team. I dont think 2009 will be a one off for Brawn at all.


Do Brawn not need to keep Rubens in terms of set-up work?

Rosberg and Button might not be the best combination.

Rosberg and Rubens might work a lot better.


Probably because he has beaten a world champion in the same team, has won races from 14th on the grid, has shown this year that he can overtake and win the race without having the best car or strategy and most importantly out scored everyone else in the last half of 2006,including Alonso and Schumacher, in a dreadful car. That in itself is probably the greatest achievement of his career.

I am not deluding myself that he is the greatest driver in history, but all the bashing going on in this thread is unjustified. His weakness is excelling with a less than perfect car, but even Alonso had to change brake suppliers in 2007 to feel comfortable in the car.


For some reason this is against the wrong post, sorry.


Suppose Brawn becomes Mercedes works team in 2011, what do you think will happen with McLaren?

Would they still be able to just retain the McLaren Mercedes name and just become a ‘customer engine’ team?


I think McLaren will start producing their own F1 engine in the not too distant future.

It wants to break into the road car market as a serious contender to Ferrari and Porsche and I think building their own engine gives them that credibility.

Have no idea if they’ve been investing in the appropriate F1 infrastructure, however given the new MP4-12c roadcar is using an in-house engine then it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.


What about Kimi & Rosberg at Brawn and Lewis & Kovy at McLaren to satisfy both the german requirement and the lewis requirement?


The team in it’s current form has been built around Lewis, not for him. An F1 team involves two drivers. No driver is bigger than the team, no matter how much they may think it.


Was Andretti really a much quicker and more consistent driver than R. Peterson? The evidence that year says he was, but sometimes “the team” has other agendas, James. WADR.


Indeed. Remember that whilst the WDC is the championship with the most cache, the WCC is where the teams earn their prize money. Even if Macca had favoured Lewis in 08 they still should have won the WCC given the fact they had the best car. It was Kovy’s poor performances that season which lost it for them- when Lewis faltered he should have been there to pick up the points.

This year given no championship is at stake it’s unlikely they wouldn’t have given him a fair crack of the whip, but he’s shown nothing to demonstrate that he has the consistency even to be a solid #2 driver. He will almost certainly have a home next year, but it won’t be at Macca.

Also worth noting in 08 he was Ron’s third choice- Rosberg was the first but Williams wouldn’t let him go.


Very well said. I couldn’t agree more.

Kovy has let down the team on more occasions than I care to remember.

He was a POOR rear gunner during 2008. He lacks the competitive edge and people pass him far too easily.


In glad to see people behind kimi. I’ve always been a fan and thought ferrari would never accept him. The way they have publicly put him down is shocking


Agree with the media thing. When Kimi eats an icream he gest huge ctitics when Lewis crashes into the wall its because he is so much a racer he was pushing 110% and I have no problem with Lewis.


Exactly. Evenwhen he was eating the ice cream he’d already retired because his KERS was flooded from the rain


It’s great all this speculation! I am quite looking forward to next season. Fairly stable rules following on from this year. That is a first for many seasons. But what is getting me stirred is the potential McLaren/Ferrari battle. My hope upon hope is that both cars are evenly matched. Or that one or the other teams gains an advantage before the other claws it back… then the pendulum swings again. Next year could be a classic with four great drivers. Then throw in a few jokers like Renault with Kubica perhaps to mix it up. And look at Williams – they are moving nearer the front each season so will they be there also?

Just one question James. Regarding Force India, you do not include Liuzzi. Does he not have a race contract with them for next year? A considerably underrated driver IMHO. Be interesting to see how he goes at Suzuka this weekend – a more open and traditional racetrack.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

I wish there was also a transfer market for TV commentators! Off topic, I know but thought that some of you might find this a little amusing:



A little lightheartedness for this afternoon.


Very good!

The BBC are hyper-sensitive about Legard at the moment. Any critical posts on their blog (of which there are plenty) are being removed.

I hope we’re not stuck with him next year, especially if the red button is not working as it was not for Singapore. Could not even change to Croft/Davidson so had to put up with his inane drivel. We need James back, with his trousers on fire like Murray.


Here, here.

Would much prefer James Allen to Jonathan (lets-quote-another-inane-statistic-while-talking-over-team-radio) Legard…

James, you considered doing a live streaming audio commetary during races?

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Yes please. Legard is just not up to the job, he’s just an old school BBC gravy-trainer.

James, I miss your commentary and your technical and strategy knowledge.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Interesting that none of the top teams want Button.


why would a top team be interested in someone who has spent most of his career being out-qualified by guys like Fisichella?!

OK, Button, lucked into the best car this year, and made the most of it, but that does not make him a Nando or Lewis…

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

My thoughts exactly. He’s not up there with the big boys and when Martin Brundle said that the two best drivers were Fernando and Jenson I almost fell off my chair from laughing too much.

Button as World Champion = beat his team mate Barichello while Rubens was getting used to the car. As soon as the big boys started to catch up and Rubens got comfortable, Button dropped back while his slightly above average team mate has fared much better.

Evo IX (not II, sorry :))

It looks like Button will return to his dear old playboy days, getting trashed by average drivers!

Unfortunately (for us), he will join the ranks of champions… as one of the least worthy though



A question for you. Its been mentioned that Kimi and Lewis like oversteer where as it was not the case at Ferrari.

How much does a driver’s driving style have an impact on the design of the car itself? How much can be accomplished my a set up change over a race weekend?

Would like to hear some technical details on that.


Great insight James, thanks. It’s also hard for me to buy the classic excuse of underperforming drivers: “car not suiting me, suiting my teammate’s driving style who has #1 status in the team and blah blah blah…”

Anyone into racesims knows that there’s quite a few ways to turn oversteer into understeer and viceversa: aero, antiroll bars, camber, differential and so on… So if you master setup you just need the car to be fast out-of-the-box and you should be able to adapt it to your style via setup.

Which leaves me in total darkness about what the hell did Ferrari change in the F2008 to make it so hard to drive for Kimi. Especially considering that the F60 seems to be undrivable by anyone but Kimi…


A lot can be done by changing set up, You can make the car handle like a roller skate or a shopping trolley. as for design, the really good guys can drive anything as long as it’s balanced.



If the “really good guys” can drive anything, then what’s the reason for the great drivers like MS and Alonso to take an entourage of engineers with them where ever they went?

Surely, good working relations and friendship may not be the only reason. Don’t you think that they knowing his driving style has anything to do with it?


“the really good guys can drive anything as long as it’s balanced.”

I feel this is what Lewis has been doing, (Driving ‘around’ the car) much like Schumacher used to do. Kovy may not be the best driver, but Lewis is probably making him look worse than he is.

Maybe it’s me, but I think LH, like MS is a cut above the rest, and he’ll prove it next year alongside the 2nd best.

I know I’m straying off-topic here, but if next years McLaren is half decent…it’ll be 1988 all over again…and I’m a Ferrari guy.


No, Ferrari will be strong next year. They’ve had a big focus on the 2010 car and they have ideas, I’m told. It’s one thing to spend lots of time in the wind tunnel quite another thing to do it when you have good ideas.


Reminds me when Frentzen had his name hanging for as many teams around 1999. Jordan, Ligier(Prost), McLaren, Sauber, Williams etc. I know Jacques is present at most races, how many teams is his name being considered for? Are they not supposed to allow 3 car teams for 2010? I’m very interested in how USF1 will do with Youtube sponsorship and seasoned pros at the helm. It’s always hung on Alonso, as he is the best, and when they give him the best car again, you will know he is. (Aside from his stupid dedication to Flavio (good riddance btw) he is still superior to most of the new drivers, and the blossoming old ones.)

Opposite Lock (Ken)

I can’t help but think that a part of Renault’s negotiated settlement with the FIA prior to the hearing, for damage control of their public image, was that Renault will stay in F1 for the next year or more in exchange for a suspended sentence and no fine. They fired those involved (except Witness X) and are trying to compartmentalize the cheating by saying it was done by three rogue individuals.

Whether the sponsors will buy it or not, who knows? The negotiated stay in F1 will be much cheaper than a massive fine and irreparable image damage that would have come otherwise.


Witness X is nothing new in F1 really 🙂



James, where is Kovy headed? Williams, or in a testing role for McLaren?


It says a lot about Heikki that so many people on this blog are asking where he is heading for next year. I saw him beating Schumi at the Race of Champion in Paris a few years ago and he is a brilliant driver. At Mclaren something did not click but at some other team I am sure he could do well.



Im guessing two germans at Williams not make sense but two Germans at Force India would be ok is because of the Merc engine deal.

Why has a german driver with a german engine became so important to them? They have passed Frentzen, Ralf Shumacher and Glock in recent years and I dont recall in a golden era of german drivers there ever being a german mclaren tester.


Norbert Haug has stated he wants a german driver so it sounds like Mercedes will be buying into Brawn if Rosberg (who’s clearly talented..) goes there. I would be amazed that Kimi is going back to Mclaren after leaving the team so noisely and who frankly has looked even less interested in F1 recently.. only Massa’s absence has made him look good. I would have predicted Rosberg to Mclaren and Bruno Senna to Brawn if JB is champ. but not heard anything about Senna recently..


James, where’s Livy headed, Williams?


Same place my mum used to tell we were going on holiday – Kerbst-on-edge.

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