Street Fight
Monte Carlo 2018
Monaco Grand Prix
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.

Featured News
Editor's Picks
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

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.

Top Tags