Today has seen the bosses of Red Bull and Ferrari give strong hints that they will be keeping the same driver line up for next season.
First Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali said Felipe Massa was likely to be given an extension in an interview with my old sparring partner Martin Brundle on the BBC.
“Yes I think so,” he said responding to Martin’s question would Ferrari retain its drivers. When Martin asked if he was “sure” he said “Yes”
Massa has had a difficult start to the season and has been outpaced by team mate Fernando Alonso so far. But he has been part of the family for a long time and over and above his driving, Brazil is an important market for FIAT, parent company of Ferrari and it is also the number one market for Ferrari sponsor Banco Santander.
More unequivocally, later today Red Bull’s Christian Horner responded to questions about championship leader Mark Webber’s future with the team by saying, “We have been happy with the job that Mark is doing, so why would you change? When we sit down and talk about it, it will be very straightforward. Mark is an important member of the team, he enjoys driving for the team and we have a great balance between our two drivers. So, it is the usual thing – if it is not broken, don’t fix it.”
With McLaren’s driver line up already set for 2011, it looks like there won’t be much movement at the top in F1 for next year, so it could be quite a sensible “silly season”. It will be tough for aspiring drivers to find upward mobility.
That said, we do have a strong batch of drivers in good cars at the moment and it seems that the sport wants to keep it that way, which is good news for fans.
There is the question of how long Michael Schumacher will persist with his comeback at Mercedes and who will partner Robert Kubica, at Renault if indeed the door to Ferrari is closed.
My conversations in the last week indicated that Massa’s situation was not as clear cut as Domenicali’s words imply. Time will tell.