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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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268comments

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1

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..

2

“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.

3

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?

4

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!

5

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.

6

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?

7

It’s a good question.

Let’s wait and see

8

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

9

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

10

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.

11

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.

12

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.

13

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.

14

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.

15

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!).

16

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!!

17

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?

18

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.

19

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!!!

20

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!

21

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.

22

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.

23

Do I hear a Grosjean to Ferrari “rumor”? 😛

24

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.

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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.

29
Tornillo Amarillo

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.

30

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.

31

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

32

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!

33

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?

34

Felix Da Costa

35
Thread the Needle

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

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