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Thoughts on the next driver market moves
Thoughts on the next driver market moves
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Oct 2009   |  4:33 am GMT  |  93 comments

The Alonso to Ferrari move has energised the driver market and it looks like we are going to have some very strong line-ups for next year.

Whoever wins the next couple of world championships will really have deserved them because the competition is going to be intense.

I’ve been thinking through the rationale behind some of the likely next driver moves I posted about this week.

Raikkonen to McLaren
This one struck me as odd, as regular readers will know, because firstly I didn’t see why the team would need another ‘ace’, second I wonder if they could handle the situation given what happened with Hamilton and Alonso in 2007 and third it seemed like something guaranteed to annoy Hamilton.
Kimi cool

When you think about it, there is some small benefit for Santander, who were keen to get Alonso in a Ferrari as soon as possible. From McLaren’s point of view the performance of Raikkonen this summer, since it became apparent that he was being pushed out, has been stunning. It shows that he still has the fire in his belly.

McLaren believe that he will perform at his best next year because he will be highly motivated to show everyone, but particularly Ferrari, what he can do. So it’s a good moment to get a very motivated Raikkonen. As for handling him and Hamilton in the same team, he isn’t someone who plays political games, so the atmosphere in the team will be one of straight competition.

Although Hamilton isn’t over the moon about the idea, he isn’t afraid of going up against Raikkonen either and he no doubt believes that he will prove the more consistent over a season. It means that the team will be a very strong force in the drivers’ and constructors’ championships next year and as the Mercedes partnership in its current form is coming to an end in two years time (when they move on to Brawn) it is an important moment to demonstrate that McLaren is a top class team, to build a platform for the next stage of the team’s development.

If it happens it will be the first time a team has had two world champions in it since Senna and Prost were together at McLaren in 1989!

Rosberg to Brawn
This will not be announced until after the season ends because Ross Brawn doesn’t want anything to detract from the team closing out both championships.

This makes perfect sense for Rosberg and is an ideal move. He will be driving for the world champion team in a car which should be capable of winning races. He is bang on his personal stated target for 2010. If he had gone to McLaren he would have been up against Hamilton, who usually had the upper hand over him in their early days. He will fancy his chances more against Button and the whole package will keep his stock very high. If he drives a Brawn the way he has driven a Williams this year, he will do very well.

Photo: Darren Heath

Photo: Darren Heath

The one risk is that Rosberg is not very strong on set up and engineering. He struggled last year without a Wurz or a Webber alongside him. Button is okay in that area, but he has relied on Barrichello a lot and has struggled quite a bit lately to get the car dialled in as well as his team mate.

From Brawn’s point of view, Rosberg is a strong package who has proven this year that, although he still makes the odd big mistake like Singapore, he is very consistent and still improving. He’s also German, which suits Mercedes and he’s young, marketable and great with the media.

Picture 36
Barrichello to Williams
This is the best story of all. Rubens is keeping his career alive and moving to yet another team, his fifth in 18 years of F1 racing. Barrichello will go through the 300 Grands Prix starts barrier next season and has become one of the sport’s treasures. Although Sir Frank Williams criticised him for laying into the Brawn team after he felt he was ‘switched’ in Germany, he also admires him for his speed and above all his ability to set up and engineer the car.

Williams has a super young talent in Nico Hulkenberg and putting Barrichello alongside him will give Hulkenberg a well set up car at every race and a fantastic reference point. I think the pair of them will be very fast and exciting to watch. It’s an exciting and very affordable driver line up. The engine choice will be important. It’s looking more like Cosworth than Renault at the moment, I’m told.

The key for Williams is to pay incredible attention to giving Rubens the brakes he needs. If he can stop the car the way he likes to, he will fly.

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I think the opposite will happen to what you have predicted James.

Kimi- Brawn

Rosberg- Mclaren

If Kimi can’t go to Brawn then he will retire from formula one and end up rallying.



As someone who considers that Nelson Piquet returning to F1 is a bad joke at best I was alarmed to read your comment on the ITV web site that he was “floating around with a budget”. I have just read on another site that he is to drive for Manor Grand Prix next year and now I am horrified! Have you heard anything of this nature and do you think it is possible?

On another note do you think that it is at all possible that Button would risk being squeezed from his seat through holding out for more money, or indeed would Brawn be happy to lose him?


I think Button will do the deal and as for Manor, likely team principal Alex Tai has said he doesn’t want Piquet (who has a budget of around £5m)


James, I have read in couple of places that Nick might land in to Force India. If that is true, will Liuzzi get a boot again?


James, I was surprised to read that Rosberg is not considered a good development driver. I remember when Williams signed him Sam Michael said that on his “technical exams” Nico had scored as high as the engineers on the team…

Opposite Lock (Ken)

Rosberg to Brawn? That would be the worst possible move he could make. Brawn will not be as strong next year. They will go through a sophomoric slump. I will be surprised if they win more than one race next year.

They do not have the engineering depth to keep up with the development pace the other teams are able to maintain.


Totally agree.

8 has this year become my “go to” F1 site….the 1st stop… top of the list in favourites.

….so when I first read the title…

“Thoughts on the next driver market moves”

I got a bit excited, I thought James had a scoop, and don’t get me wrong,it’s an interesting enough post, but I was hoping for something a little deeper down the grid.

ie: What’s the goss on the new teams drivers?

How secure is Button’s seat? #1 or not.

Could Senna end up in a Brawn?…or a McLaren.

Has Danica Patrick been offered a test.

(if she was on the pace,Ecclestone himself should pay her to join F1).

Is there anyone else from outside F1 being mentioned?

I’ll bet James is relieved now that Alonso/Ferrari news is public.

Hope we get some more big news soon.


danica patrick sadly (imo) will never be in F1. she’s not interested, there’s nothing for her to gain, but everything to lose. scott speed and bourdais to team america!!


james, noble of autosport heard something shocking in driver market will occur what do you think is it?

kimis retirement?


Well he covered himself by saying that it might be a bum steer..


Hello James,

If McLaren drops Kovalainen, at which teams will he have the chance to drive in 2010?


Toyota, maybe Renault if Grosjean has a poor final three races


Lewis should not worry who is next to him in

the garage, He should worry about the company

he keeps,This high maintenace girl friend of his,Linsey Lohan,Puff Daddy,Wil I Am,Beyonce

Knowles.These people do not care about Lewis or

F1,They cant even name five F1 drivers,Lewis

go home and look in the mirror and be honest

with youself,where was these people when I was

in karting,where was these people when I was

in Gp2,They are hanging around you because

your the first black F1 champion so all they

care about is their camera time during F1 races

So Martin is watching this and he needs a driver who wants a fast car to drive and thats

it,What if you get hurt in a race and cant drive any more lets see if Nicole and her friends stick around.

so if


Jon Noble wrote his twitter that he had heard a rumour there may be a shock in the F1 driver market.

Do you know what is that rumour?




How else could a rampant egotist like Alonso play it ? Brand Alonso is totally based upon his utter dominance of F1, being beaten by Lewis has to be excused by a decade of snide sniping, trying to feed the lie that the cars were not equal. The vaguest allusion, real or not, to the McLaren cars has his fans working out ways of twisting the words to show how “unfairly he was treated”… it is a lie and it does get boring.

I believe Lewis would welcome Kimi back, he is a competitive animal and wants to beat the best.

Barrichello is surely being helped by the lack of testing now, his skills are suddenly more valuable than before, raising his value.


Kimi to Mclaren would be a big mistake. Lewis is Top Dog there and would make sure that Kimi gets the Kovalinen treatment.

In fact, I think Mclaren are going to struggle to attract any of the top drivers to fill the second seat while Lewis is there. They know what will happen.

Kimi would be best off replacing Webber at Red Bull, especially if they keep Newey and get Mercedes engines. He and Vettel get on well, neither of them are terriby interested in playing politics and the atmosphere at Red Bull is far more laid back than at corporate Mclaren. Add to that Red Bull’s involvement in WRC and you have the perfect mixture, much like Vodka and Red Bull.

I guess Kimi’s waiting to see who is going to supply Red Bull with engines. Yes, Webber has a contract for 2010, but then so did Kimi…

If not Red Bull, then replace Rubens at Brawn (if he is the one who leaves… Button might go chasing the dollars at Renault). They have a good chance of riding the momentum they carry from this season into 2010, not with quite the advantage they had at the beginning of 2009 but the car will be easier to set up next year and they still have Mercedes engines (and investment) and the mighty Ross Brawn.

If neither of these options appeal, then I’d rather see Kimi retire than go back to Mclaren.


I really don’t understand your logic behind Kimis proposed return to Mclaren. It baffles me why some fans believe that its a Number 1 orientated team. Drivers who race for Mclaren are treated fairly and equally It is the drivers themselves who create drama… Montoya, Alonso etc. Formula 1 drivers have very delicate egos Kimi aside, it was unfortunate that Juan Pablo was a feisty Columbian and Fernando was a emotionally driven 2 x World Champion, Fernando should have relished the prospect of humbling his rookie team mate and enforcing his mark on the team, instead he resorted to dirty tatics and blackmail. If at the end of the day you cannot beat your team mate in equal machinary then you cannot blame the team.

Drivers should only be intimadated at the prospect of joining Mclaren because Lewis Hamilton is the reigning world champion and a class act. The same goes for Micheal Schumacher and Fernando Alonso when they were World Champions knowone would dare take them on in the same car, however Kimi earns alot of respect if he does intend to take on Hamilton as a team mate because your credibilty as a driver is pitched against what can be argued as the bench mark of the grid. My point is your Redbull argument is deeply floored on a number of levels, Redbull have proven this season that they are not strong enough to sustain a championship fight both development wise and strategy wise. Plus Kimi has stated on many occasions that he will only join a top team something that Redbull isn’t, neither Brawn as an out right established World championship team. It’s either Ferrari, Mclaren or bust.


Interesting comments from Ferdy:

“I really think that Ferrari will be my last team,” he said. “Leaving Ferrari to change teams is always a step backwards. It has to be a step backwards because Ferrari is more than a team and I want to finish my career with them.”

Mind games with Kimi?

And talking about his time at Macca with Lewis:

“It will not happen again,” Alonso said. “I am more prepared than I was two years ago. And Ferrari is more important than any driver in that car.”

Is he implying that at Macca the opposite was true: that Lewis was more important than the team? Is that a coded warning advising Kimi not to go back to Macca?

“Felipe is a great driver and also has a very good personality. It will be fine, we will both work for the team to score points for the team.”

So things will be okay “this time” because his team mate “this time” has a very good personality …

All of the above can be true as statements of fact. But it is also possible to read a lot between the lines.

Seems Kimi is playing tough with Macca (talking about going to rallying even today) … which is the right thing to do as if he just rolls over now, Macca will end up treating him as a number 2.

Expect Alonso and Kovi have both given Kimi advice about what it is like at Macca when it is so focussed round Lewis.

Think Kimi could do well at Brawn. How about Kimi and Rosberg at Brawn?


… and what about the drivers in the new teams?

Could we see Sebastian Bourdais making a return to F1? And what about Bruno Senna? Lotus & Senna would be a great historic match.


I hope the new Lotus cars will be all seventies black&gold!


I think unlikely, sadly, because Red Bull and TR are already predominantly black-based colour schemes.


If my memory serves me right, that color scheme was determined by the main sponsor, the John Player Special cigarette brand.

It was great for the eye, but it’s hardly possible to have again, as tobacco advertising is banned in most countries F1 goes to.

Still, be it only the color scheme (without the logo) would instantly refresh the lost awareness of old puffers (if they are still alive after smoking all these years 🙂 )


Although JPS was indeed the first brand to use the Black and Gold livery Olympus also sponsored Lotus for many years and had too a Black and Gold livery as their corporate identify and as they don’t sell tobacco could come back in F1 with Lotus assuming they wanted too.


Me to, but I’ve heard it will be Green and Yellow.


That would be nice and it could happen if they could convince their old sponsor Olympus Camera to come back.


On the engineering point, you could put einstein in a F1 car, and he’d (probably) struggle to get the car setup.

While having a technical understanding certainly aids the setup of a car, a big part of the drivers input is ‘feel’ and translating what the driver is feeling in his belly into the almost binary language of engineering.

It kind of reinforces the point I made above, Rosberg seems slightly deadened to the feeling of the car. Wonderfully reflexive drivers like Alonso, and Michael got most of their speed from exploiting their keeness of feeling, perhaps more so than from their god given talent.

I question whether Rosberg has that. And his performances in cars that aren’t quite there relative to his performances in cars that are, demonstrates that. Brawn are taking a risk taking two wooden drivers, I think. Button and Rosberg are both quick – but seemingly, only when the car is quick.

Just A Bloke (Martin)

Must admit as a spectator I think you get the best when you see a driver hustle a car to point where it is ahead of where it really deserves to be. I think Mansell typified that wring its neck approach. I agree that Button does not seem to be from that mould, although I do reserve judgement on Rosberg jr. Rosberg Sr could do it !


There is speculation on other websites – not this site or Joe Saward’s – that Kimi might give up F1 and go rallying or something. Any thoughts on that James? Or indeed, my fellow contributors?


I hope for the Kimis sake his management team are just playing hard ball with Mclaren. It is a possiblity, but if I were Kimi i’d give it one more crack at challenging for the WDC, The Mp4-25 will be a contender if recent results are anything to go by. But who know’s, I think Mclaren also want to protect Heikki’s confidence in the hope that his performances will improve this weekend but I personally can’t see that happening as Heikki quoted last weekend that he ‘couldn’t go faster’… I wonder when Kimi will announce which seat he’ll be vacating, any thoughts when this might happen?


You are correct Jonathan. I think in effect, Heikki is McLaren’s driver for the immediate future. They want him to bring some points home to secure 3rd place in the WCC. Also, it does his confidence no good if he is under the gun, so to speak. Kind of like Brawn delaying their announcement also.

Personally, I would love to see Lewis/Kimi/Fernando/Felipe all going at it in more or less comparable cars with a few jokers like Kubica in a Renault, the two Brawns if they are still fast, etc, etc. 2010 has the makings of a classic season on paper. I suppose the only negative thought at the back of my mind is that the FIA does not try and mess it up either with dodgy rulings or equally dodgy stewarding.


So Nick Heidfeld’s getting the shaft again?


James, what do you think of Rosberg really? I can’t help but feel he is one of the more overrated drivers in F1.

The only benchmark we have to measure him against is Mark Webber, and Webber was clearly the superior driver. Now you can say Rosberg was inexperienced, but so is Vettel and he has been vastly more competitive.

Rosberg seems to me to be a bit of a journeyman. In the right car he will get some points. But if the car isn’t there, neither is Rosberg. While he deserves a place in F1, I don’t think he’s earned the exaltation he gets from some quarters. And he’s German by decent only, he’s never spent that much time in the country. So I never quite understand the exaggerated German connection. It’s a bit like saying Kevin Peterson is English. He might play for the team, but he’s certainly foreign.


I like him and think he’s done a great job this year, on the whole. He dropped the ball big time in Singapore which should have been Williams’ best result of the year. He is still improving, like Massa, so we will have to see in time whether he has what it takes to be a champion. Button was the same when he was younger and he’s about to become champion, so you never know.


Hi James,

Just a slightly off-topic question for you…

Do you think that Williams will race with KERS next year as has been stated recently and if so, do you think that they will be a strong contender in the championship next year??

Wouldn’t Rosberg kick himself if he left Williams the year that they became seriously competitive!!



Good on Williams for sticking with KERS (assuming they aren’t pressured out of it). The ‘agreement’ between the FOTA teams to shelve the system is an example of the teams at their selfish, conservative worst – a great opportunity to show the world that F1 can have some even vaguely green leanings has been squandered. Frank, Patrick – stick it to ’em!


Williams performance next year will depend a lot on the engine. They may go with Cosworth, especially if it turns out that as a new engine Cosworth are able to do more to their engine over the season than the other builders.


Hi James.

Interesting and well thought out analysis as usual. Do you have any view on where Jens might end up if the Brawn deal does not work out? McLaren?


No I’m sure it will


I was wondering the same thing! If I were Mclaren I would take Jenson over Kimi any day! But I you, James, say itll work out Im ‘sure’ it will, you have this annoying habit of being right! But how ‘sure’ are you?


Completely off-topic, I know, but partial rss feeds are back, and this is a shame… 🙁

Or was that a glitch?


OK we will look into it. Thanks


I know I keep harping on about this, but I would love to know if Williams really will be the only incumbent team on the grid with KERS next year. Can you imagine if they do manage to secure a Renault supply AND have an extra 80hp AND a fired up Rubens with something to prove to Brawn? An exciting prospect.

James, my knowledge is weak here – but has Rubens won a race with every team he’s been in?


Not Jordan or Stewart


Yes, but he made some interesting upsets in qualifying, with Stewart at least!


How do you think McLAren can move on to it’s next stage? Another Manufactuer? If so any ideas on whom they might be targeting – perhaps David Richards and his access to Aston Martin might have a role to play?


If Brawn need a good set-up man, why not keep Rubens and team him with Rosberg?

Any idea if Bruno will get a seat when the music stops playing?


Hi James, Kimi to McLaren seems to be a perfect counter to Alonso-Massa at Ferrari. Not sure why you thought it didn’t make sense, as your paragraph above seems a compelling argument for this union.


Personally I would rather see Rosberg go to McLaren. However, Brawn would be a good fit for him and his driving style, whereas Kimi to McLaren leaves the prospect of either a) a fantastically successful partnership or b) the final closing of the “is Kimi motivated” saga. In the end, being partnered with the under-performing Kovalainen hasn’t really harmed Hamilton, and neither did being Alonso’s team-mate (say all you want about them taking points off of each other, but even had Alonso not scored in the final races of 2007, Hamilton wouldn’t have been champion).

Personally, I can’t wait. Williams will be a natural home for Rubens, and Kubica has what it takes to put Renault amongst the big four.


Hi James,

I’ve read rumors of “Kimi to be announced at Mclaren before Sunday’s Japanese GP race”… How credible do you think this is and do you subscribe to it?



Latest interviews by Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso:

KR: “Hello I am a Mac! Once I was a Mac, then I became a PC (*), soon I’ll be a Mac again”.

FA: “Hello I am a PC! Once I was a Mac too and soon I’ll be a PC too”.

(*) PC= Piccolo Cavallino 🙂



So it is official.

i heard alonso has requested to bring some people who worked with him in the past. Who is he bringing?

Massa’s race engineer worked with alonso during his F3000 year. Is he staying with massa, or is he one of the people he wants.


Domenicali says that this is false, he is not bringing anyone with him


Slightly off topic but still related

Do you think McLaren are possibly aiming to build their own engines – I dont knwo but are the new McLaren road cars 100% Mclaren including engines?

As for driver line ups it sounds fantastic all round and I think McLaren will have the strongest driver line up.


Hi James, many drivers are attempting to come back to F1 in 2010 (Villeneuve, Davidson, Klein, De la Rosa, etc…).

What about Takuma Sato? I like the guy very much and would love to see him back. Do you think there is any chance of this happening. Nobody is mentioning him but maybe he is working

on his return too?


Not heard his name around too much, it must be said


Thanks James! As you are in Suzuka you might bump into Taku in the paddock as he might show himself. I am sure if you spot him you’ll ask him what his prospects are for next year.


It looks as though next year is going to be a vintage season. I am genuinely excited about it.

If the cars are as evenly matched as they are this year then we will have all the good drivers in potentially race winning cars, and at least 6 drivers capable of winning the WDC. I actually feel sorry for Vettel in all of this. If the Ferrari and Mclaren cars are as good as we all think they will be then Vettel has pretty much had his best chance of winning the WDC for the next few years.

The key is going to be tyre management and you would have to say that not all of the front runners listed above are always that easy on their tyres.

Jonathan Cheung

I would REALLY want to see Antony Davidson return to F1.


Not sure i agree with your comments regarding Hamilton being not too happy with Kimi going back to McLaren

My understanding of sportsmen at the top,which admittedly is only hearsay, is that they relish the chance to be pitted against the best of the rest Hamilton has already matched Alonso who most people feel is the most “complete” driver on the grid This he achieved in his rookie year.

Kimi is widely regarded as the fastest, although many feel that should now be Hamilton or Vettel,So i would have thought Hamilton would relish the chance to go head to head.

Having said that interesting time indeed.



Lot’s of talk on all the sites about Kimi’s move to McLaren, but have you heard anything about what this means for Heikki? Do you think he will retain a race seat for 2010, possibly with one of the new teams?


hi James,

What do you think about Bruno Senna? He is on record saying he has options at some ‘strong teams’. Do you expect to see him on the grid next year, and if so, in an existing team or one of the new teams?


Having the privilege to see Rubens racing for another year is, for me, the best news of all!

I wonder if he’d thought that would be possible, just 10 months ago…


I cannot wait for 2010 – So we have Alonso in a Ferrari vs. Lewis in a McLaren and probably Kimi in a McLaren too? I’m putting money on Alonso to wipe the floor here 😀

2010 is going to be MEGA – and the first season since 1999 with four champions in the field – and no refuelling! I can’t wait…

On another note, it will be the acid test for Rosberg, who has disappointed me so far, but a lot of people reckon it’s the fault of the car. So we will see his true skill against a proper team mate in a good car next year…

Finally, it’s a shame that Brawn are getting rid of Barrichello – but with all his experience and setup knowledge going to Williams, it may finally be the year when Williams become a front running team again 😀

Aww man, I’m so excited now!


I’ll be delighted to see Kimi come back to McLaren and it will indeed be very interesting to see how he gets on against Lewis.

While the events of 2007 are still fresh in the memory however, I agree with you that it will be a straight competition. Indeed I can’t think of a driver on the grid who would be less likely to start a political row with the management and get into a war of words with the team than Kimi!

On another note, which overalls do you see Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock wearing next season?


hello james, why are you so sure mercedes is quitting mclaren in two years. is the deal done?


NOt quitting necessarily, but taking a majority stake in Brawn which will make it Mercedes own team and therefore its main focus. McLaren needs to move on to its next stage


In that case James what is the next stage for Mclaren? The Mercedes-Benz engine is the with out a doubt the best engine on the grid anything else would be a step down surely?


Yes but we are talking about 2012, which is the final year of the current formula. In 2013 there will be a whole new engine concept


Which is constructing engines and chassis? The ‘British Ferrari’ route we’ve heard about since they launched their latest road car?


And will that next stage be that McLaren will be building its own engine, like it does for its MP4 road car?


James, are we talking about Mclaren producing their own engines? With the road car operation, are we looking at them essentially becoming a British Ferrari?


I’m looking into that


Great news for Brawn and Mercedes really. Brawn get major investment and Mercedes get a team that hasn’t got a repuatation for cheating. It’s a win win situation that one, probably not for McLaren though given the Merc is the best engine on the grid and their KERS system is the best too.


Which would be building its’ own engines? What do you think James?

The key for me is “Vision”. Ron Dennis has a vision of becoming the British Ferrari. They are already building their own engine for the Mclaren MP4-12C and it would follow that they start building their own race engines to give the marque some thoroughbred race heritage. I suppose the next stage after that is to supply engines to other teams ala Ferrari.

Whatever anyone thinks about Ron Dennis, when he starts talking about his vision you really ought to listen.

Alistair Blevins

I’m guessing McLaren will start producing its own engines within the next couple of years.

Will help give them credibility with their entry into the road car market – the new mp4-12c has a house unit from what I recall.

Paige Michael-Shetley

Which is…

McLaren, the manufacturer entry?

Paige Michael-Shetley


Kubica to Renault? You’ve been discussing this one for a while, and I’m surprised you didn’t comment on the fact that it’s apparently going to be announced next week.

What do you feel like the next major wrinkle in the driver market would be? Quadbak/Sauber being guaranteed a spot on the grid? Surely, they’ve got to be the next best option for drivers on the market after Ferrari, McLaren, Brawn, Red Bull, Williams, and Renault. I have a really strong feeling that if they stay, Heidfeld will stay with them.

Also, on the point of Rosberg’s technical ability, I have to question your argument. Recall that Rosberg was offered a place to study aerodynamics at Imperial College before he went full-on with his racing career. It’s also been reported that he scored the highest on Williams’ technical aptitude test of any new driver in the team’s history, so I’m not quite sure the statement that he’s “weak in the area of set up and engineering” is very accurate.


But you also have to remember what patrick head said this very season. “We are in boutsen territory”. A fast driver not necesarely has to be tecnically knoledgable. I remember alan jones being impresed by jean pier jaboille knoledge on technical matters, but alan and villeneuve were the fastest guys during those years.


Yes, and that’s why it’s all the more surprising….


Having an aptitude for technical issues and an engineering background doesn’t necessarily translate into make for good test driving ability.

A good test driver can lap all day at 9/10ths of the car’s limit and give detailed feedback on its behaviour – but doesn’t attempt to do the job of the engineers. I wonder whether Rosberg is over thinking set-up issues.

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. I once engineered a driver who insisted that, despite various set-up changes, his car was still understeering at a critical corner. Turns out he’d confused understeer with oversteer…


“…since it became apparent that he was being pushed out, has been stunning.”

Fact, or coincidence?

The car was pretty much a dog for the first part of the season. Neither Kimi or Felipe were able to produce much. I don’t recall many comments about Felipe’s motivation.

I just find it curious that Kimi’s motivation is constantly questioned. His time at Ferrari hasn’t exactly been one filled with underachievement. I’m not really sure why Kimi seems to always be doubted.

Are people reading too much into his demeanor, etc? Or, is there something substantive to back up the claims about lack of motivation?


The thing I noticed from 2008 also is the fact that Ferrari was very adamant in developing the car for Felipe, or in Felipe’s manner.

This year, it looked the same way, as if they owed Felipe a WDC after losing it by 1 point last year.

Even Kimi said that now the car feels right with him. Maybe now that Felipe was out, they actually listened and concentrated on Kimi’s way of developing the car because they know they have to rely on him for the Constructor’s Championchip.

At McLaren, I know the old days they just designed a neutral car and let the drivers pretty much figure it out on their own and extract the maximum from it. This is where Kimi was at his best, because you could see he was the one that was putting his talent at use and making that car work for him.

Now, you might say that why didn’t he do this at Ferrari? I speculate that he was, BUT because the car was being developed in the opposite driving style direction, it was like swimming against a giant tsunami wave.


The huge swings in his performances perhaps? This season he was outperformed by Massa until the Hungary accident. Last season he seemed to lose the plot completely after Spain, and in 2007 he only woke up halfway through the season. There must be something else to it other than the car. His time at Ferrari has been very inconsistent.


Kimi was ahead of Massa until the Hungarian GP (round 11) last season, but failed to score any points in the next 4 races (1 engine failure, 2 accidents, 1 non-points finish in Italy) which effectively ended his championship bid so he played 2nd fiddle to Massa in the last races. They had the the issue of getting the tyres upto optimum temperature so they struggled in the wet.

In 2007, he was on the podium in 12 out of 17 races, the same as Hamilton and Alonso, and won 6 races to Alonso’s and Hamilton’s 4 each. In the other 5 races, he had 2 retirements (electrical failure in Spanish GP, mechanical failure in European GP) and got 4th in US GP, 5th in Canadian GP and 8th in Monaco GP, scoring points in every race that he finished). Inconsistent? This performance may give someone a world chammpionship in some seasons (Button has done worse this year and he may win it easily at the end), but the competition was very tough that year with both Alonso and Hamilton doing exceptionally well in that season.

In 2009, the car has been terrible from the beginning and still he got them the 1st points and podium. Neither Felip nor Kimi scored any point in the 1st 4 races, so it’s even to that point. In the next 6 races (upto the German GP), he had 2 retirements (hydraulics failure in Spanish GP, cooling problem in German GP), 2 times he finished ahead of Felipe and 2 times he finished behind him. How does Felipe outperform him by a big margin, as people say?

And there have been mistakes from Ferrari during pitstops and strategies as well, which has affected his result in some races (e.g. Malaysia 2009 – gamble for wet tyres, Britain 2008 – again wrong tyres in 1st pitstop). If only we could look beyond the statistics of points/wins we could understand a driver’s performance better.


CORRECTION : Neither Felip nor Kimi scored any point in the 1st 3 races.

Paige Michael-Shetley

I think his main issue at Ferrari is that he just doesn’t fit into the team.

This is a team that was built not only around Schumacher for so many years, but really around the idea that Ferrari is a “family.” Schumacher not only embraced the concept fully and befriended everyone in the team, but he endeared himself to the team by going the extra mile with them off the track and truly took leadership of them. Massa learned from the example and has done the same.

That just isn’t Raikkonen’s personality. He’s not a guy who is going to see his team as a “family” and make it what his life is all about like Schumacher did. He wants his own life. He drives in F1 because he enjoys the speed and going fast, and while he’ll do what he needs to do to be on his game as a driver (for a long time, for example, he was seen as the fittest driver in F1) and put in effort to give the best feedback he can, he leaves the engineering to the engineers and goes on about his life in other respects.

The difference in the Schumacher and Massa approach to Ferrari and the Raikkonen approach may not seem to be all that significant. But disparities in such approaches are how, for instance, the development of the F2008 ends up suiting Massa’s style more than Raikkonen’s despite the latter being the reigning world champion.

Raikkonen is a much, much better fit at McLaren. They don’t ask him to be a part of any “family” construct. They ask him to go fast on the track and tell them what he thinks can make the car go faster, and that’s all they need. They’ll sort out the rest in the wind tunnel and CFD simulations.


I think it also has to do with the design of the car, and the difference between Felipe’s and Kimi’s driving styles. Ferrari have had a world champion in their car for the last two years and done nothing to bring the car around to him. You’re right, people question his motivation, but there was never any question about that in his Macca days.


these are just paddock rumours at the moment, or have your been nudged and winked at by insiders?

i’m surprised you mention rosberg does not have the ability to set-up a car well – i thought that was one of his strengths, generally being regarded as one of the sharpest drivers on the grid intelligence-wise. i know that doesn’t necessarily relate directly but he will have probably a better fundamental understanding of the complex interactions of car set up such as tyre pressures / suspension and ride-height / geometry / aero etc. than most? i always considered him to be basically like an engineer in the car

as for williams and bari – firstly, does bari still have the motivation to continue? he was only 95% sure earlier in the year… and can williams continue their push to the front again?


Hi James, I am a bit surprised to see you say that Nico is not very technically sound and cant set his car up. I on the other hand thought he was one of the more technical racers. I also read that he had scored the maximum marks in the test in history that the Williams team conducts for its new drivers


Very interesting analysis, James. I haven’t thought about Barrichello’s switch to Williams, but it seems perfectly logical (now that Williams seems to be parting with Toyota), I suspect it’s out the door for Nakajima as well. Barrichello-Hullkenberg would be really interesting to see, and I think both drivers this year have shown their class. My big question is, who will be Williams’ engine supplier for next year? Will it be the old Williams-Renault once again?




The amazing thing about F1 nowdays is that the relative competitiveness between teams changes so much from one race to another. The grids are so close and things can be turned on their head from one week to the next, even for teams with a very strong driver pairing. The only thing missing is the overtaking – if they get that part right F1 will be like never before!

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