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Big decisions to be made on F1 drivers during next few months
F1 team principals
Posted By: Editor   |  14 Aug 2014   |  6:29 pm GMT  |  147 comments

It’s that time of year where talk in the world of Formula 1 increasingly turns to the driver market and the expected line-ups for next year.

And there are some big decisions to be taken in the coming months, involving some well known names and some less well known.

Teams such as Mercedes (Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg) and Red Bull (Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo) have got their drivers under contract for next year but there remains a number of possibilities in the air at many teams and others who have stalled on announcing their plans.

Chief of those is McLaren, who have failed to commit yet to either 2009 world champion Jenson Button or rookie Kevin Magnussen.

The team is a very attractive prospect with Honda coming on board from next season and they will be keen to turn their fortunes around having produced two successive cars which have not been capable of challenging for race wins. They have made no secret of their desire to recapture Fernando Alonso, but for all that they may have forgotten the past, it’s hard to see Alonso wanting to work with Ron Dennis again.

Button has said he has no desire to race in any category other than Formula 1 next season and is keep to stay with the team when his deal expires at the end of the season.

Magnussen, meanwhile, has had some highs and lows in his rookie season, but has been steadily improving in recent months and looks an exciting prospect, but the Dane and Button will face internal competition from highly-rated GP2 racer and McLaren’s reserve Stoffel Vandoorne, as well as possible external competition too.

At Williams, Felipe Massa signed a “multi-year” deal starting this season, so is expected to stay. His team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who has been exceptional this season, is also on a “multi-year” deal, which began in 2013.

The Finn is mentored by Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff and could be in-line at some point in future for a seat at the works Mercedes team – based on his development – when one becomes available, although that won’t be next season following Nico Rosberg’s recent contract extension and Lewis Hamilton’s existing 2015 deal. An extension with Hamilton is being discussed.

Over at Ferrari, both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen have deals for next year (and 2016 for Alonso), but speculation as to whether they will both stay continues to swirl around the paddock following a hugely disappointing season for the Italian outfit.

Alonso has been discussing an extension, but progress is slow as the Spaniard has requested a higher salary in return for his commitment; perhaps to compensate for the uncompetitive cars he has been provided in recent times.

Ferrari president Luca Montezemolo said yesterday in a Twitter interview that he was sure both drivers would continue next season and dismissed the “inflated” figures being mentioned around Alonso’s demands,

Raikkonen has said that he will stay for the remainder of his two year deal and Ferrari is reluctant to pay him off again, having done so at the end of 2009.

Waiting in the wings is Jules Bianchi, who has continued his development this season, with some high points; the Frenchman producing a brilliant performance to score Marussia’s first points in Monaco.

He was also impressive when stepping in for Raikkonen at Ferrari for the Silverstone test, which the Finn skipped following a high-speed crash in the race.

In the absence of a 2015 Ferrari, the Frenchman has to weigh up whether it makes sense to stay at Marussia for a third season or to look for a seat further up the grid.

Romain Grosjean

Lotus are set to switch to Mercedes power units next season, which makes the outfit a more attractive prospect. Pastor Maldonado has already signed to stay for next season, the deal was done soon after the Mercedes deal was agreed, but Romain Grosjean’s future is less secure.

The Frenchman said after Hungary that he will use the summer break to think about his options next season, adding he “wants to win races in the near future”. With the seats available, Lotus – with in-coming Mercedes power – may be his best option to do that.

Russian Daniil Kvyat has been highly impressive this season, so providing he maintains that form in the second-half of the season, he is likely to stay at Toro Rosso for a second season. His team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne’s future is not so certain, though.

Now in his third season with the Red Bull junior team, based on the team’s approach in past seasons his time may well run out, with no opening at the main Red Bull Racing team.

Jean Eric Vergne

Admittedly, the team have been severely hampered with reliability issues, but in the competitive world of Formula 1 and in a team such as Toro Rosso, which has a bunch of drivers, like Carlos Sainz and now Max Verstappen in its junior programme itching to get their shot, two-and-a-half years without a significant result does not bode well for Vergne.

Dutch media is suggesting that Verstappen may be drafted in next season, but as he will turn 17 next month, despite his F3 results, it’s hard to see him being accepted in F1 at such a young age.

Sauber have an interesting decision to make. They’re on course for their worst ever season at the sport, but have shown improved pace in recent races.

Adrian Sutil has been unspectacular since moving from Force India, while Gutierrez has looked to have the upper hand in recent races and will be desperate to be on the grid next year and contest his home race in the returning Mexican Grand Prix.

However, the face competition for their seat from Giedo van der Garde, Russian Sergey Sirotkin and Simona de Silvestro.

Force India are having a strong season and sit in fifth place in the constructors’ one place ahead of McLaren. Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg are well matched and the engineers appreciate their qualities, so unless there is a financial imperative to change and as both signed multi-year deals when they joined this season, so look set to stay.

Kevin Magnussen and Marcus Ericsson

It’s difficult to stay what could happen at Caterham , who are restructuring after Tony Fernandes sold the team to a Swiss and Middle Eastern consortium.

They do have a pool of junior drivers to choose from depending on whether they want Kamui Kobayashi or Marcus Ericsson to stay – or indeed if those two want to sign up for another year.

Red Bull’s Helmut Marko seems to have some influence behind the scenes with the new Caterham management and there has been talk of Sainz getting a few Grands Prix under his belt at the end of the season as a contra-deal for gearboxes which Red Bull supplies to the team.

Marko placed Ricciardo with HRT for 10 races in 2012 and it did him a lot of good.

What line-ups would you like to see in F1 next season? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below

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Alonso must move on for Ferrari to succeed. Too much energy goes into making him happy. Honda can design for pure performance knowing reliability updates are allowed, so their power may surprise.


Hulk to Ferrari! –


“Marko placed Ricciardo with HRT for 10 races in 2012 and it did him a lot of good.”

Your calendar is a little different to mine, which says he raced for Torro Rosso for two full years (2013 and 2012) and was the TR reserve driver in 2011, which is also when he had the race stint at HRT to finish the season.


Alonso- I hope he leaves Ferrari but doubt it. He would be divisive in any team. Besides when Allison and Raikkonen finally develop a decent Ferrari- he wont want to leave. If he goes and I hope he does- Ferrari must sign Bianci- I even said he should be at Ferrari this year . People who said too soon- now what do you think…..

Raikkonen- if we’ve seen the worst of Kimi in 11 races and at least 2 of them he was actually faster than Alonso in a car he hates. I cant wait for a half decent car for him to drive. We have not seen the end of the flying finn- not by a long shot. He will do real well and will be the driving force behind Ferraris resurgence in 2015 his unflinching determination are evident in his words

Rosberg/ Hamilton- mercedes will retain both. But must be careful they do not alienate Lewis by continually putting Nico in the “box” seat. Lewis will probably go back to Mclaren in 2016 if Honda gain ground quickly.merc poster boy is Nico this is abundantly clear.

Button/ Magnussen- Button must go..& will come under pressure from Alonso/ Grosjean possibly even Bottas. Bottas is a Ron Dennis type driver and and he is a champion in the making. Magnussen needs and will get more time. Vandoorne to test

Perez/ Hulk- best driver pairing on the grid. Perez is an exact match for Hulk. I dont buy into this Hulk is the best hype – he is top 6- just like Sergio

Rbr- no change. T/ R – Vergne will make way for Carlos Sainz Jnr- make no mistake – this kid is as good as Kvyat.

Williams- need to get rid of Felipe/ maybe sign Button or anyone else. He is a disaster.

Lotus- possibly Button/ Grosjean switch but most likely remain the same

Sauber/- Sutil must go barely a match for Gutierrez. Maybe Bianci can step across in preparation for a Ferrari drive. Esteban will stay due to money

Cateham-Maybe same line up. Possibly get Sainz jnr in if he cant get seat at TR

Marussia- Chilton has to go. Maybe bring in Van de guarde or some other Lotus tester.They may need another junior if Bianci moves.


i am still wrestling with the concept of seeing hulkenberg getting a top drive? why would anyone do that? if he is even 90% of what some people claim then he would’ve been snapped up a long time ago. teams seem to simply bypass him and their actions belie what the paddock sentiment really is.

there is no doubt that he is good otherwise he wouldn’t be on the grid but but to extol his virtues as a future WDC appears to be a bit short of the mark. apart from his singular pole position in brazil for williams he has never been able to emulate that. it was simply an aberration…right place, right time with the right tyres. that is not enough to continue to make extravagant claims of his ability. i doubt very much whether we will ever see him in a top car but then again this is F1 and anything can happen…….


My Predictions for 2015 F1 Drivers:

1) AMG Petronas -Mercedes => Hamilton, Rosberg

2) Infiniti REB BULL-Renault => Ricciardo, Grosjean

3) WILLIAMS-Mercedes => Massa, Bottas

4) Scuderia FERRARI => Vettel, Raikkonen

5) McLAREN-Honda => Alonso, Button

6) Sahara FORCE INDIA-Mercedes => Hulkenberg, Peres

7) GenII LOTUS-Mercedes => Maldonado, Sutil (Jerome D’Ambrosio)

8) STR / CEPSA -Renault => Kvyat, Sainz Jr

9) SAUBER – Ferrari => Bianchi, Gutierrez (VdG)

10) CATERHAM -Renault => Frijins, DaCosta

11) Marussia – Ferrari => Max Chilton, Magnussen or Vandoorne


With all this speculation about seats at Ferarri, and possible champions they could put in the seat, I dismissed Button out of hand, but only for a few moments.

His value, as I understand it, is that if you get a driver regularly faster than him, and capable of showing where the car can get to, he is great at taking his car to that level as well.

So that worked with Lewis, but not so much with Sergio and Magnussen.

However, if Alonso stays at Ferarri, and the second seat becomes vacant, it does not seem inconceivable to me any more that Jenson would not be a fit there.

Doesn’t matter about making the second Ferarri particularly fast or powerful, just make it BALANCED, and Jenson should be able to, at least, put it on Alonso’s tail.


Just realised that by the same token, Alonso moving to Maclaren, with Button still there, would achieve the same dynamic.


Magnussen needs at least one more year to show what he can do. McLaren getting rid of him would be a huge mistake. We know he is quick, and he will improve.

McLaren really need to start preparing a solid driver for the future, with Button unlikely to be in F1 in a few years, and constantly changing their second driver before giving him a chance will surely get them nowhere. Look at how much Grosjean improved over time.


Plenty of exciting possibilities for next year, in the end, though, I suspect stability will rule after all.


Kimi Raikkoenen has seriously underperformed this year which I think is a real shame as I refuse to believe he has forgotten how to drive.

Nevertheless, fact remains he has been well behind Fernando Alonso thus far.

Funnily enough I feel Alonso being in the team is Raikkoenen’s best chance of hanging on to his Ferrari seat:

With all the “is he staying/is he going” with Alonso, Ferrari were almost compelled to bring someone of Raikkoenen’s caliber in to cover all bases.

It has not worked out that well so far, but there is nothing to say that Raikkoenen will not get the car he needs and start performing.

So, if Alonso leaves I consider it a given that Raikkoenen will stay; Ferrari need the caliber and will also hang on the hope that “the real Kimi” shows up; they are also not renowned for taking such risks as swapping both drivers in the same year.

If Alonso stays, well, he is the super-performer anyway and securing him will, somehow, beg the question of why rock the boat too much by booting Raikkoenen out; in other words, the assumption will be that Alonso will deliver anyway so they can afford to hang on to Raikkoenen and hope he adapts.

In conclusion, I think they will both stay put.

No change.


Rosberg is a given, irrespective of the outcome of the championship.

Unless Hamilton goes through a massive bout of throwing his toys out of the pram he will be in grey/horrible green overalls next year too.

No change

Red Bull

Ricciardo is not going anywhere, is he ? Why should he.

A lot is being made of the possibility of Vettel being tempted to go elsewhere but tempted by what, exactly ?

Ferrari ? Why, they are well behind Red Bull !

Mercedes ? No seats

Maclaren ? Similarly to Ferrari, well behind Red Bull, although the idea of starting a new Maclaren/Honda era may appeal to him.

Still, I anticipate no driver changes at Red Bull next year.

No change


First off let me state that I feel the “Honda factor” is overplayed, as far as year 1 impact is concerned, almost everywhere apart from JAonF1. I see also others in this forum are tempering expectations for year 1.

I have tremendous respect for Honda’s achievements in F1, starting with their efforts in the 60’s, but I cannot imagine that they come in next year, as the rookie engine supplier, having none of the on-track experience and learning the current 3 engine suppliers have accumulated, and, somehow, blitz the field.

Their last foray into F1 was also not that successful.

I believe and hope they will come good this time round but do not expect it in their very first season.

In other words and forgetting for a minute whether Alonso’s heart would allow him to go back to MacLaren (this is the guy who dreamt of going to MacLaren the way all other drivers dream of going to Ferrari and was so stressed/disgruntled when there, that he left after one season to, knowingly, go in a worse car) he must realise that MacLaren/Honda is a 2-3 yr project.

As is Ferrari . . .so he is bound to be wondering if it is worth it.

I think he is stuck.

Back to MacLaren, one would have to think that, having dropped Perez after just one season, they are unlikely to do the same with Magnussen plus I think he has shown maybe enough potential anyway.

Jenson Button is another story; if Magnussen is the archetypal driver that lights Ron Dennis’ fire, I would venture that Button is maybe the opposite.

Having said that and while I fully understand that they want and need an even bigger name, such as Alonso, Hamilton or Vettel; assuming they get no one of the aforementioned and cooler heads prevail, Button with his experience may actually be an excellent choice to ease them (see develop them) into the Honda era.

I do not expect them going the full risk option and fielding Magnussen and Vandoorne next year.

Grosjean is a viable option but does not deliver the bold statement that “Maclaren are back on their way up” that Ron Dennis probably wants to see; similarly, neither does Hulkenberg which is a crying shame as I think the man is truly excellent.

Hard to call, this one.

I certainly expect mini-Mag and I will go with Button on a one year contract extension (sure, he will want 2, but . . .). Honda will be well and truly up and running in 2016 and there will then be many options out there for MacLaren to choose from and they will be doing it from a much better position.

No change


Bottas will stay.

He is a great fit for the team, they will be dead keen to keep him and given that the teams ahead of Williams are all pretty much locked down, I fail to see what would really tempt him anyway.

A mega deal from MacLaren perhaps but I somehow do not see that happening.

Massa will certainly want to stay and I think Williams are probably intending to keep him as well.

It will nevertheless be interesting to see whether the temptation of slotting someone like Button or, Grosjean or,again, Hulkenberg, next to Bottas proves too strong.

When all is said and done, though, I expect no change here either.

No change.

Force India

Unless someone poaches one of their drivers, which I do not think will happen, they would be crazy to even think about changing one of them.

No change


Maldonado has been confirmed which is further indication, if any were necessary, that Lotus is in true financial dire straits.

I expect Grosjean will stay in the end too.

No change


If their finances allowed they would probably change both drivers but I do not think they will have this luxury. Sutil has had his time in F1 and Guttierez, though improving, does not show either the ultimate potential or leadership qualities for a long term successful career at the top.

What with the Mexican GP back on next year, though, and his sponsorship, I see Guttierez staying.

Sutil should be replaced by Bianchibut unless Ferrari make it worthwhile for Sauber, Sutil may also get another year with the Swiss team.

Some change likely

Toro Rosso

Kvyat will surely be kept on whilst I fear Vergne will be waving goodbye to the team and probably also his F1 career too. Carlos Sainz Jr is top of my list of likely candidates to replace him.

Some change likely


Chilton’s sponsorship will keep him on the team and I think Bianchi will not escape just yet.

No change


All change, I suspect.

One seat may be taken by Red Bull, either Verstappen Jr or Sainz Jr

No idea who will take the other one but I doubt it will be either of the current incumbents. A shame for Kobayashi, I do not think Ericsson will be missed that much.

Just for fun, this is what I would LIKE to see next year


Rai, Hulk

(Hulk gets the break, Rai comes good again)


Ros, Ham

(no news, good news)

Red Bull

Vett, Ricc

(Vett comes to terms with new regs, epic battle)


Alo, Mag

(A FUNCTIONING Macca/Alo combination is soooooo promising and intriguing; I always felt the F1 community was robbed last time round with that constellation not working out.)


Bottas, Grosjean

(Both keep getting better, pushing the also ever improving team consistently further)


Massa, Button

(solid, fast hands live to fight another season; some sponsorship money to help the team regain some form)

Force India

Perez, Jucandella

(Perez brings potential and continuity, Jucandella gets a shot)


Bianchi, Frinjs

(Talent plus Ferrari money, sorted)

Toro Rosso

Kvyat, Sainz Jr

(Simply makes perfect sense, it is, in essence, the raison d’ etre of this team)


Maldonado, Guttierez

(Both fast enough, both sponsored)


van der Gaarde, da Costa

(They need money more than anything else. vdG is fast enough and level headed. Another RBR young gun gets their chance and Caterham get some money from that nice Austrian gentleman)


Mentioned it in the Verstappen article but I think JEV would be really unlucky to lose a seat off the grid completely and it says more about the talent Red Bull believe they have in their academy rather than Vergne’s actual ability. Think he would be an upgrade on either current Sauber driver but I guess Bianchi is an even more obvious choice for them to be a future Ferrari driver. Maybe Gutierrez deserves one more shot but I don’t see why Sutil would be brought back.

Grosjean seems to be in a bad position though at the moment, seems to have fallen out with Lotus a bit and if Boullier is looking elsewhere I’m not really sure where he can go which would be a better car than this year which he deserves. I suppose Sauber is an option for all of the Frenchies.

Force India should do everything they can to keep their current line-up, Hulk will probably have a few enquiries but I think he really should stay one more year. He has the speed of a number 1 driver but he keeps leaving a team after 1 year and I think it will help his stock if he comes back next year as a clear team leader alongside a fast teammate in Checo.

James – Ted mentioned in a recent Sky video that there could be potential for a Bottas-Button swap? It makes sense for McLaren to be looking at Valteri but I just can’t see it happening, do you think there is any chance? Button’s hunger is sometimes unfairly brought into question but at the same time, I couldn’t really see him being too up for driving for Williams unless he really believes that they can be as competitive as they have been this year.


Wolff has a huge say in Bottas’ career. If he thinks its a good move then maybe, learn what Honda has up its sleeve etc

If I were Honda I would be nervous about that


A further note regarding Jenson Button.

Don’t forget that John Button passed away earlier this year and JB has to deal with losing his father like anyone else. It’s not an easy task and grief takes it’s own time. That deserves to be taken into account. JB is a winner.


I have a few comments about some, but not all of the drivers.

Alonso- Worth every euro he asks for. A pr expert and an apex driver. Gets the absolute most out the car and is ruthless on track.

Kimi-When he’s “on”, he wins. Who knows what the problem is now, but the clock is ticking. Still, he can be great. Tick tock, tick tock…

Vettel- See Alonso above. Struggling with the 2014 challenges though. Needs to confirm all those WDC’s and likely understands Mark Webber’s frustrations now.

JB- Obviously a class act and apex driver. Worth alot. Needs the equipment, though. Remember Brawn Racing after Honda stint anyone? He is capable of repeating that Brawn brilliance… in grand style.

Massa- He is one of the reasons Williams is doing so well, even it it’s not his results that are showing. When he gets it right, he is very very good. He deserves the best to prove himself and is thoroughly capable of doing so.

Bottas- Huge talent and still has more to give. Alot more.

Magnussen- See Bottas.

Ricciardo- A pr dream and a gigantic talent. Even Alonso says so. If you are a team principal, then you want Ricciardo.

Grosjean- All this guy needs is some good equipment and a bit of luck and he will instantly be a prolific winner. One of the best. GP2 champ, and don’t forget that. It is proof of talent.

Hamilton- One of the very best based on pure driving skill. Worth loads to any team at any time, but emotions can get to him at times. He is human, after all.

Rosberg- He is showing-now- that he is deserving of his place at the top of the WDC. A fighter through and through while keeping his cool even when the road turns bumpy. 2014 WDC is his to win or lose.

Hulkenberg- Another huge talent that given the right circumstances, will prove it to one and all.

Perez- Has shown flashes of top level driving, but has to back it up with consistency.

Kvyat- Showing talent and maturity way, way beyond his young age. This guy has the potential to reach the top and the talent to stay there for years. If you’re a team principal, then you should snap Kvyat up while the price is right. As in now..

The bottom line is that F1 is loaded with driving talent. But talent needs good equipment to succeed. Look no further than Mercedes or Williams for proof. Or, look to Ferrari or McLaren, or Lotus on the other end of the scale. It’s not the drivers who are underperforming, it’s the equipment. As for Red Bull/Vettel? It’s an adaptability issue. The equipment works better with Ricciardo. Vettel hasn’t suddenly become less than stellar. It’s the equipment.

It’s always the equipment.


A lot of people are being a bit pessimistic about the chances of Honda producing a competitive engine out of the box. I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be. After all Honda has built a reputation for looking at competitors products and making them more efficient, more powerful and lighter throughout history.

And don’t tell me that they haven’t had a Mercedes power unit to analyse the hell out of for a year while the other manufacturers are not allowed to make improvements to the design of their units.

If Honda/McLaren don’t consistently beat Mercedes next year I will be very disappointed.




The bashing of Kimi coming onto the Alonso team, and the Alonso car, out-of-line; the Kimi deal was always partly a development deal; there is little doubt that Alonso is not the ‘complete package’ nor ‘getting 120%’ in development, he’s a driver/racer. I am more inclined to think Alonso will jump ship: I DO believe there may be substance to the Alonso demand for more money; it must gual him that Kimi makes the same; depending on his ego swing, Alonso may go, and it seems fairly certain where he would go, Mac, except if…

Red Bull:

Will VEttel stay? IS he thinking it is now the time to go to the Red team; Vettel is extremely intelligent and the most strategic thinking driver at teh sharp end of the grid (kimi’s not bad). Vettel could go the Ferrari for 2015 to help finalize the development for the 2016 season, partnered likely with Bianchi.

If Vettel goes, Red Bull have a lot in the stable and almost anybody would drive there, if the offer was made, if not Alonso: take your pick: Hulkenberg, Hamilton, Bottas, etc… The crystal ball is liking Bottas, but if Lewy were to go, I’d think he’ll be the guy to get the second Mercedes seat.

Ricciardo is certainly staying at Red Bull.


I can’t see either driver retaining the 2015 Honda drive.

I am surprosed I haven’t sen anybody else suggest that the best Japanese driver of all time, well loved in Japan, is not part of the Honda plan; I see high probability of a Kobayashi at McLaren-Honda for 2015.

Other McLaren drivers, Alonso; if he doesn’t jump, I expect Nico Hulkenberg; despite the supposed rosy picture at ForceI, he couldn’t and won’t turn down the McLaren offer.


Rosberg certain to stay.

Lewy, if he gets managed into second in the championship, I think he’ll leave.

Top of the list, Bottas, despite the fact that Mercedes would then have 1.5 Finns on their team. If Bottas could not be got, then look for them to bring very fresh and marketable tallent onboard, or perhaps, Grosjean!?!

If Lewy goes, he might go Red Bull, or try to muscle in on Ferrari, and probably get it. I’d love to see a straight fight between Lewis and Kimi! There is no such thing as a straight fight with Alonso, and I doubt Lewis would be stupid enough to go the Ferrari against Alonso (not because he couldn’t get the measure of him, driving…)


the biggest question is, can they keep Bottas? Certainly he will have to get a pay raise to stay. One can’t be too certain over whether or not Massa will be kept, of they’ll go to the well for one of many talented ypoung drivers coming with money. I wouldn’t rule a Grosjean move to Williams out, either (though I see him most likely with a Renault-powered team, and not Caterham).


Grosjean is certainly gone if he could get a decent drive. With Nico Hulkenberg in demand, we could see Grosjean go to ForceI, but possibly Red Bull with a Vettel move. I’d like to see Ricciardo v Grosjean in a straight fight; I feel the outcome could surprise based on the now sky-high expectations most people have of Ricciardo.

Lotus will likely have to take on another pay driver, perhaps Guttierez, who will likely be out at Sauber, and won’t get another drive without a good bundle of cash.

Maldonado’s seat will only be secure if he is in the top two for how much money he can bring.


Woe be the unpretentious Swiss team.

Likely both drivers will be gone.

Possibly Sergei will get the drive, as long as he brings a boat load of cash.

Grosjean could go to Sauber. Otherwise, it will be two loaded pay drivers, just like Lotus.

If Bianchi doesn’t go to Ferrari, I’d like to see him move up the grid, in terms of machinery; though I’m not so certain that Sauber would be a move up.


who knows if they can keep Bianchi, who will go, if a better team asks.

they seem content to take the money from Chilton’s management for now.

If Bianchi were to go, we’ll see a loaded young pay driver in his place.


will they be on the grid next year? Who knows, and who knows who the driver will be, undoubtedly loaded pay drivers, but Filipe Nasr could be in the picture.


“I am surprised I haven’t seen anybody else suggest that the best Japanese driver of all time, well loved in Japan, is not part of the Honda plan; I see high probability of a Kobayashi at McLaren-Honda for 2015.”

I am not sure to what extent, the Japanese manufacturers maintain rivalries amongst themselves, but when this idea was presented to Kobayashi himself, he thought his own history as a Toyota driver would count against him.


Alonso to Williams, is it possible?



I think you are correct on Ferrari.

Kimi getting same pay this year and next (unless Alonso persuades them to raise his cash alone for next year) Obviously he wants more status, but it depends on whether Luca feels Alonso is utterly indispensable …. or not!

If (when I should say, not if) the car allows Kimi to start performing at his unbeatable best it will be more diff for Alonso. I’m certain Alonso will not want to stick around when Kimi is back to best.


Kenneth: But still possible if he brings his own pay cheque, in the form of Santander?


@ deancassady…, i don’t think it is even vaguely possible. why? because i cannot see FW ever paying alonso a ferrari like salary. although alonso has said in the past that $$$ do not surpass his desire for another WDC surely he wouldn’t accept a reduction of his current salary. FW still has 99cents of his first $1.00. that si why i doubt there being any chance of this happening.


Didn’t Ricciardo drive for HRT in 2011, not 2012?


Vettel to McLaren. Med probability. With Newey decreased participation on day-to-day activity in Reb Bull, Vettel will feel the vacuum. Without Newey Vettel is deemed there. Being exposed by Riciardo he could jump the ship.

Hulkenberg to McLaren. Potentially high probability if they remained with Merc, but with Honda it is med probability. Or elsewhere, HUlkenber is as asset, very toll but the asset!

Alonso stays in Ferrari to try Ellison’s design. If it is tomb #6 then he might jump the ship in the mid of the season with big scandal, in his style.

Symonds may help to lure Alonso to Williams, but Symonds is not Sir Frank who publicly said about preference to have Button rather than Alonso. Williams’s daughter has different thoughts about Alonso?

Hamilton remains in Merc. If he loses this season, he would try to win next one. I believe in conspiracy there, but James was right about non-conspiracy arguments. We have German top and English mids in the team since Honda times. Hard to imagine successful conspiracy for tops pulling for Rosberg nd mids pulling for Hamilton.

Riciardo stays at RedBull:)

If Williams keeps Massa, that would be strange… But money overcomes many strange things.

Raikkonen remains at Ferrari. Though McLaren may propose a seat to him. In 2016?


McLaren is a better choice for ALONSO than Ferrari in 2015:

– LOU DM: as indicated by his words, his mind is in the past : politics, proclamations, excuses, general ideas.
– RON DENNIS: as indicated by the spaceship looks of Mclaren HQ, his mind is in the future.
Both McLaren and Ferrari are behind this season, but the uncertainty is: who will pull ahead in 2015? due to the above difference in leadership, McLaren will pull ahead and enter an era of domination.

There is another plus for McLaren – the racing team managers:
– ERIC BOUILLIER: a brillant, proven, tough, innovative leader.
– MATTIACI: the poor guy will take a few years to learn the ropes by trial and error..

Engine department:
– FERRARI: from what little I know, they cannot change too many things for the next 2 years so they are mostly stuck where they are.
– HONDA: they start from scratch incorporating the greatest hits of everyone including Merceds. Just take a look at their MOTOGP engines: the best! I realise that MotoGP engines cannot be as peaky as F! engines, so maybe the Honda F1 engine for 2015 will have slightly less top power than Mercedes but make up for it with more torque?

-FERRARI barely has the new air tunnel up and running, and in words of Pedro de la Rosa, their simulator is years behind the MCLAREN one. It is going to take Ferrari 3-4 years at least to reach the McLaren level in air tunnel/simulator.

Ron Dennis, Eric Bouillier, Fernando Alonso: three tough smart guys that will DOMINATE the next 5 years!!


Hi James,

I grew up seeing McLaren and Ferrari dominate the sport. Out of interest, which of the two could you see returning to winning ways quicker?



It’s about midfield money, isn’t it?

Sauber, Force India, Lotus, Marussia & Caterham’s finances could all use improving: engineering, sponsorship & drivers can combine to create a positive outcome… but they don’t always end up that way when the music stops.

Williams have performed their way out of that position.

McLaren are big enough to survive time in the midfield.

And both are probably still open to dealing their drivers.

Merc & RedBull + Torro Rosso seats are locked to outsiders

Ferrari’s 3 seats are the wildcards [Alo, Rai, Bia]: other drivers will have contingencies in place. You’d surprised if anybody is able to move until Luca decides (& it feels like it’s his decision, doesn’t it?).

When it comes down to personalities, it’s hard to see Luca losing Fernando to Ron, isn’t it.

So just like last year…

[ie McLaren >> Perez + some horse trading over services, probably >> Force India, Massa >> Williams, with sponsorship eased by Bernie to keep a talented Brazilian in the field]

…this year will see the midfield scrapping for deals, to get the best kit, the cash to run it, and the best possible nut behind the wheel.

But only once the grandees have fired the starting gun.


Williams is a plum seat for next year. The team are making consistent progress and have the best engine around.

For me Massa is a waste of a Williams seat. They should be trying to get Alonso or Button in there for next year. They could win races.

Alonso needs to take the best possible opportunity availble to him now every year, just signing one year deals, bit like Fangio used to. He’s running out of time.


I agree completely. I think Massa’s seat is the hottest seat on the grid for next year.

In this day and age, we all know contracts mean nothing. Money ends contracts, and there is plenty of money flowing around.

For me the key to the whole driver market is Alonso. He should be seriously considering the Williams seat, though I think money will ultimately decide this too (Santander). Most likely he will end up at McLaren, in spite of any personal history he has with Ron. If he moves, I think nearly the whole grid will change.

The big question mark for everyone is of course the Honda-Mclaren next season. Honda will want a known, highly marketable champion as their lead driver. It is pretty much a certainty that button will be out, the rumors are too thick for there not to be serious question about his longevity. That leaves only a handful of options, and Alonso is the best choice.

If Fernando moves, I think the dominoes will fall, and Vettel will move too. DR has shown his ability, and if it continues at RB this way the rest of the season, they may well decide to build the future of their team around the young Australian. No one can deny that DR is a more “marketable” driver to the public. Vettel is a very private person, and not well liked in several international markets. Is this justified? probably not, but it is what it is.

Vettel needs to prove to himself that it was him that one the last 4 titles, not the car. Taking a seat at Williams, a team with a strong car but not the strongest, and then winning races, would help his ego a bunch.

Plus I think that he and Sir Franks personalities would work well together, as well as Vettel having no manager to interfere in the situation.

I must confess, my theory is partially based on the idea that Massa ends up at Lotus with Pastor.

I would really like to see a team we can call “The Bang Brothers”.

They would keep the Carbon Fiber manufacturers in the black for a long time, all paid for by the drivers large sponsorship dollars (which Lotus desperately needs).

That puts Kimi in the #1 seat at Ferrari, along with Bianchi.

Rossi and Chilton at Marussia (if the team makes it till next year)

Grojean and Ricciardo at RB.

But again, it all depends on Alonso. If he chooses to stay at Ferrari, I don’t think much will be different next year, with the exception of a little shuffling in of rookies in the backfield.


To be honest, I think teams would be better off sorting their cars out rather then worrying about swapping/changing drivers.

A slow car is a slow car, whoever is driving it.

And on the back of these new breed of cars, I think it’s unfair to make any defining judgements less than 1 year in.

But, if we were to speculate driver movements, I’d be looking at Button, Massa, Chilton, Vergne, Kobi & Ericsson.

Mainly because, relative to their team-mates, they haven’t impressed me.

I would put Maldonado in that list, but there’s no way he’s going anywhere with the pay cheque he brings.


Chuck Sutil and Gutierrez on that pile aswell.


Its all gone Pete Tong at McLaren . Think they need to get yheir new drivers quickly before some other team grabs them.

Think Button will go to Williams for his last hurrah.

Bottas to McLaren then Vettel or Alonso may swap or

Alonso will go to McLaren. He’s had his fill with Ferrari.

Until Rutger Hauer (LdM) is given a sideways promotion or sent on Gardening leave to “The Prancing Horse Resting Home of elderly Ferrari CEOs” Ferrari will wallow in avreage 3rd place podiums while Alonso watches Tumble weed blow across the Ferrari garage & the blood slowly drain from his title chances.Alonso needs to get out of Ferrari, he deserves a better car & new team.

Lewis will sign a mega deal at Mercedes.

Force India will stick with their drivers.

Sauber…well they have their lips permanently attached to the sphincter of the Russian Rouble

So there choice will either be a Russian Bear or a Cossack dancer with shedloads of Roubles 😀

I hope they give a drive to their lady driver just to see the green envious look on Mrs Toto face :-D…a Kodak moment 😉 ( the last sstatement is tongue & cheek regarding Mrs Toto 😉 )

Caterham will fold at some stage.

Murussia will at some stage go the same way as Caterham.

I hope JAV gets another go at Torro Rosso but that looks pretty thin with the Red Bull junior drivers knocking eagerly at Torro Rosso’s HQ.

Note this is silly season so it deserves abit of a humourous forcasting.




Jheir = Their 😉


The drivers market right now is stagnant with possibly only Bianchi worth considering if you want to take a chance on an unknown.

All the drivers are quick in F1 but non appear capablle of pushing the development of the car in the right direction – with the exception of Hamilton.

I”ll say it again the McLaren is probably much quicker than we are being led to believe – likewise the Ferrari, Williams, and RB – devils in the detail though.

Like some have said on hear before being fast is not enough. I would not look at the current grid if I was looking for a new driver.


@ thompson re hamilton being the only driver capable of pushing development? any evidence to support this emphatic statement?



We go back to 2008 and look at the relative performance of his teammates. Leading up to today.

McLaren – in the hands of kovalinan & Button if development had been left to them the McLarens leading to the present time would all be as rubbish as 2013 and 14 cars.

The Merc – likewise would be firmly in the midfield if development driver/engineers working together had been left to Rosberg.

(Button having to borrow Hamilton’s set up – he was lost remember.)

Recognise as good as the Merc Pu is Williams, FI, McLaren are not fighting Merc for the WCC – devils in the detail.

Remember how we all scoffed when Hamilton joined merc and started making changes – it started with the steering wheel?

I have already said this in the ‘ed thread’

Look objectively at the past few years it’s plain as day.


Chilton, Ericson, Maldonado, Sutil, Vergne are the ones who should make way for new talents, in that order.


Ahhh, August, I like this time of the year – silly season!

I just learnt Kimi is going to be a father! Which unfortunately doesn’t mean he will get quicker… quite the opposite I think. May be Ferrari indeed thinks of getting someone else…

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