The end is near
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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
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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You may want to check your first sentence.....;-)


I'd like to see Alonso and Raikkonen but one of them hasn't shown up yet.


I would hate to see Grosjean lose his drive. He had the measure of Kimi at the end of 2013, and it would be shame to see him go because of a poor car this season. Kimi, Max Chilton,Kobi and even Sutil have been quite ordinary, so i hope we get some fresh faces in their place. Sainz Jr and Simona De Silvestra would be exciting. Not that there arent any faster drivers than Simona, but she may well be just what F1 needs in terms of marketing.


I do believe in India Lotus said "you can overtake" .. to which Romain desperately replied "... I cant.. I cant!! " - this really summed it up.. hes not a gifted champion like Raikkonen. Unlike some people with blinkers on here and a pompous prejudice against drivers lifestyles. I prefer to judge drivers on how they drive- and Raikkonen is without a doubt the most talented racer since he entered F1

Someone here posted an interesting stats report which showed Raikkonnen comprehensively beat Romain over both years more than any other driver pairing. It was not so much the margin but the fact it was every conceivable stat. Yes Grosjean did well in the middle of 2013. But dont forget that was with the long wheelbase chasis which is why Kimi reverted back to the regular chasis- we saw 1 lap pace was almost half second faster at AbunDhabi before he retired from the race and Lotus woes..

I really dont get this talk about Grosjean -he learned alot from Kimi and despite many pundits rating him as the next Hamilton with his dramatic improvement- and well done to him for that. He was still nowhere near him despite ALL of Lotus support when Kimi announced his Ferrari deal. People making foolish comparisons to when he was a rookie and decimated by Alonso who was unconditional no1 at Ferrrari have no real sense of balance


I too, would hate to see Grosjean go. We know from last year that he can win races in a competitive car.


@ Zombie

"I would hate to see Grosjean lose his drive. He had the measure of Kimi at the end of 2013" - Very well put mate.

Yes, Grosjean looked much faster and improved the consistency in the later or second half of 2013 season, besides that Grosjean have always had more pace than kimi and he did put his illustrious team-mate back in his place 2013. I hope to see more of Romain grosjean possibly with lotus itself. He has all the credentials to become a top class pilot sooner rather than later in F1 world.

People may tend to disagree here more, Yet Gorsjean was faster and better than Kimi.


but my oh my... KIMI still stands as last ferrari champion which Alonso can only dream of. Fernando was labelled as the Ferrari Team Principal in disguise, look what that team leader has done. Let drivers be drivers and not political ring leaders.


@ nenad

[mod] fact Is grosjean was faster than kimi notably in 2013. I do not understand what makes you defend kimi at all costs. you comparison between alonso and kimi is simply delusional and hilarious to read. Kimi is a average pilot who was chastened by massa and beaten by grosjean. This is a fact. on the other hand what you have suggested between alonso and kimi is fantasy and a thought which will never exist in this globe you cannot compare apples with oranges.

Get used to the fact. even if you dislike the truth


@wade parmino; @krischar

you guys must be working for cnn or some political party. mr. wade parmino turned this into alcohol discussion and mr.krischar says "People may tend to disagree here more, Yet Gorsjean was faster and better than Kimi." how many victories for grosjean in lotus, points, championship position???

If i say "People may tend to disagree here more, Yet Kimi is faster and better than Alonso in Ferrari now", is that an argument, fact??


Grosjean had a measure of Kimi???? In what? Drinking lemonade maybe? Because in beer drinking and racing he did not.


No one can beat Kimi in beer drinking and racing.


I'm sure Romain Grosjean is far too responsible, respectable and intelligent to give a mod about Kimi's excessive alcohol consumption abilities. And yes, Grosjean did do a better job than Kimi in the second half of 2013, despite finishing the season with less points.

Too many people see binge drinking to excess and still maintaining consciousness (or not dying) as a badge of honor. I don't know if these people are just plain dumb to start with or if it is the alcohol that makes them this way. A little from column A and a little from column B, I suppose.


Be fair: There's not too many drivers that are going to beat Kimi at beer drinking.


Shouldn't the talk be about the expected line-ups for NEXT year? 🙂 First line of the article


I think it is time for Sutil and Chilton to go, they don't show any signs of ever being WDC caliber drivers. If they left it would free up space for two more juniors to have a go.

I also think once a driver has had 3 seasons and there is doubt about their WDC potential then it is time for them to move on (Vergne). However, I can see the benefit of having a number 2 driver to help team harmony in the top teams (Vergne).

James, maybe you have already done a story on this, but it would be interesting to see a story on driver negotiations. E.g., if the top teams are filled up for a couple of years, how does this effect negotiations. Would McLaren play hard ball with Button if he has no alternative options. If Mercedes stays on top in 2015, would the fact they have Roseberg signed on a multi-year deal make them take chances with Hamilton's negotiations and try and make him sign a more attractive deal from Mercedes perspective.

Related to this is when a team signs juniors how long are they signed for? I would imagine teams can drop the driver if they don't perform, but if they turn out to be the next big thing that the driver is stuck at the team, even if the teams fortune fade.


"Would McLaren play hard ball with Button if he has no alternative options."

Well, they played hardball with Hamilton when they thought he had no options, reportedly offering to reduce his wages, and we had Ron Dennis jumping in with "Last time I checked, he works for us, not the other way around."

The attempts to ply Lewis with more money than he was on, only came about when it was realised that he was willing to jump to a currently under-performing team.


May I suggest the following:

JB out - HULK in
JEV out - Sainz in
GRO out -
SUT out -
CHI out -
KOB out - (ERI will stay thanks to funding)


both alonso and luca rejected the rumors that he asked for double the salary. That said, contract extension is usually a upgrade for top drivers in terms of salary, on top of that alonso has pretty competitive offer from mclaren, so no one should be surprised if alonso asked for higher salary.


or maybe the mclaren is a bargain chip, because i don't see Alonso getting along with Ron Dennis, nonetheless, he can -if there's an offer- use it for leverage..


@ Matias

Yes, Alonso will not like to work for Dennis again. Yet Dennis have already approached alonso quite a few time times this season, even whitmarsh last season tried to lure Alonso away from Ferrari. So the move Mclaren seems like impossible scenario yet this could happen if Mclaren can outsmart Ferrari in the development race. Much will depend on the second half of 2014 season and the start of 2015 season. If Ferrari do not improve and compete for the tiltles ASAP. Alonso have to leave otherwise the thrid WDC will only exist in his dream. Huge wages is not a motivation for any pilot if they had to drive for shoddy cars.


There's a lot of supposition that Honda will be immediately competitive next year - the key word being supposition. Nobody can "suppose" the Tokyo V6 is going to blow the Mercedes into the weeds! It could be a work in progress for Honda - ie, it needs a lot of fine tuning and head scratching to get it on par with the benchmark that is the Mercedes V6 right now. And that could, and probably will, take time.

Thing is, who will be doing that head scratching and fine tuning on the driver side? That really is supposition!

I suspect Vergne will say "au revoir" with Toro Rosso - If I was a betting man I'd put serious money on it - but who gets the second seat at Bull Junior is anyone's guess.

The silly season? Just about to get very, very silly.

Motor sport is just as competitive in the agent/managerial stakes is it is at the factory and at the track!


Honda and Macca want the engine to be very fast, so do fans of both marques.

But face facts. The last time Honda came to race in F1 they ended up giving the team away, which resulted in the team winning the championship. Then lets reflect on the successes in recent seasons at Macca... OK lets not - no sucesses, even with a Merc engine. Don't hold your breath folks!


I don't understand why so many people think Honda are going to magically be competitive first year back. The last time they were competitive was under a McLaren - you have to back almost 20 years for that. Under the BAR banner they weren't competitive; under the Honda works team banner they weren't competitive. It was only when they took the BAR chassis, turfed the Honda engine and stuck in a Mercedes engine that what was the Honda car, now BrawnGP, became competitive.

The most recent examples we've seen of them as a track record is hardly any reason to believe they'll be competitive. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if they turn out like Renault.


History would show that Renault will actually end up with the best turbo engine package over time. They have been by far the best overall package for a decade or more & it will not be long before they catch up (particular with RBR support, drive and innovation). Too many knockers of RBR and Renault who don't consider recent or past history with turbo engines.

As for Honda, my expectation is that they will struggle. Time out of F1 is a massive risk - the task to catch up with such minute tolerances now in F1 (very different to any past era) is mammoth. It could prove to be a very dangerous outcome for McLaren - they may head into the wilderness big time (taking the mantle from Williams).


100% agree with the Honda comments. As for the TR seat. It will definitely go to Sainz.


spot on, the Honda mystical factor is just that, they can't live from ancient times. The last F1 foray for honda wasn't exactly a dream, and toyota have it even worst than that. For that matter, besides Renault, Ferrari (Fiat) and Mercedes.. how well went for the bigger car manufacturers? ask Jaguar (ford), ask Peugeot, ask Honda, ask Toyota... (i was going to say BMW but they weren't that bad, they just folded too early to say) and how come GM never invested in F1?


@iceman that's true, but mercedes did a good work with engines and with a team. Maybe you have to hire the right people (don't forget that Brawn GP nearly was Honda...)


Honda's fortunes in F1 went downhill when they got distracted by owning a team. When they've supplied engines, they've usually been good. Nevertheless, past performance is no guarantee of future performance of course.


I think even Honda are saying they will be slightly behind and remember they are not producing the rest of the power train that is all in house McLaren - so there is virtually no chance of 2015 being a jump back to the top flight - at best it will intermittently beat Mercedes - although Honda will be paying most of the driver salaries so I guess financially it gives them a boost.

I think Button will stay - they'll just use the uncertainty to drive his contract value down. And he knows and I think he'll take it. At this stage Button is insanely wealthy and he'd rather have two years in a resurgent McLaren before retirement than moving on and starting relationships again.

K-Mag I'm concerned for. He was due to get a year or two in a Force India (Whitmarsh's plan) and then graduate up - but he's had to weather the main team and the pressure of performing from day one.


Hoping Grosjean stays at Lotus; the team is sure to improve with a stronger power unit next season, and he undoubtedly has the talent. Kobayashi and se Silvestro at Sauber would be a good lineup I think.


I think Ferrari will return to the front quicker than McLaren, neither team is in good shape but the silver team appear to lack direction still even with Ron's return. Alonso should stay where he is unless Mercedes become an option.

knowing McLaren won't get one of the top 3 next near so he's McLaren's best option, I presume JB will only sign a 2 year deal to make sure his seat is safe in 2016 when Lewis and Vettel are available.


@ RIchb

Ferrari will not return to winning ways anytime sooner. They are in far poor shape than Mclaren. Mclaren have proven pedigree when it comes to the car devlopment and the ability to produce a fast package. Furthermore the internal politics and Shenanigans of LDM at Ferrari will not help the cause as well. James Allison may have joined the team. Yet Ferrari are a team who does adapt to the CFD and their wind tunnel issues are still not sorted out. Mclaren will overcome the pace deficit to the frontrunners sonner than Ferrari maybe in the second half of 2014 or for sure in 2015.

Ron also knows there are better pilots available than JB in the market Alonso or Lewis for that matter. sadly for JB he needs Alonso, Lewis and vettel to certain extent stay where they are now.


I agree Ferrari are in poor shape and their engine isn't as good as Mercedes yet they're 3 places ahead of McLaren. I saw on sky that Honda are behind on their power unit too.

either way I think it'll be a while before one of them is challenging at the front


agree with you, but as for Button securing his drive until 2016.. well, i think that if Hamilton, or anyone else become available before that, Ron won't hesitate to sack him in a blink of an eye


checo didn't have a water tight contract.


about having a contract, how did it work for Checo Perez, in McLaren?


if JB has a water tight contract for 2015 and '16 it would be far from easy for Ron to sack him


I think Button would sign any McLaren deal right now, as long as the money wasn't a big drop off. I can't see McLaren offering him a 2-yr deal, and I'm not sure they'd be offering the same money either (16m euros).

The rumour is that Alonso has a get-out clause if Ferrari finish lower than 3rd in the WCC, which is totally possible this year. I can't see him wanting to work with Dennis, or vice-versa, but stranger things have happened.

It would be interesting to know what the real deal is with the Hamilton-Mercedes negotiations. If anyone is stalling, who is it? Does Hamilton want to sign this year, or wait 'til next year to see if the Honda PU is competitive? If it is, and the cars are presumably closer anyways, it will heighten his value. Plus then if he were to lose the title to Rosberg this year, he won't have committed, and can get out for 2016.

I would also expect RBR to open up Ricciardo's contract, to put him on a more representative salary.


@KRB alonso going away from Ferrari is like jumping from the frying pan to the fire itself. I don't see him take such a risk of going to mclaren, when at best they'll be getting somewhere in 2-3 seasons... if i was him, i'll stay at ferrari (and if i was him, i surely will have a lot of things cooler than i have now.. advantages of working for Ferrari 😀 )


I don't think JB should sign any deal. if McLaren can't sign Alonso, JB is their best option in my view therefore he could use that as leverage to insist on a 2 year deal. I agree he wouldn't get his current wage.


Even if Mclaren get rid of Button, which of the top drivers will go there? That leaves a punt on some highly rated youngsters, not exactly a recipe for success, and I will be amazed if the Honda is great out out of the box. Grosjean, would he go? maybe a swap with Button would work. OK looking at this another way does any team need Buttons reliability? If he had been in the Williams they would have scored a bucket load more points this year, Nah, cannot see it happening. Button and Magnusson for another year seems the most likely scenario.


Button no doubt would've hauled in more points than Massa with Williams, but he doesn't bring the sponsorship that Massa brings. Plus Bernie wants a Brazilian on the grid, and helped arrange Massa's move to Williams. I don't think Williams is an option for Button.


Sergio Perez was on a "Multi-year" contract with mclaren and look what happened


I would like to see ALONSO at MCLAREN !!!! Ferrari is zig zagging under the influence, it will take them at least 3 or 4 years to be regularly competitive, if Lou DM makes the right choices in the first place.

Alonso and Ron wil forget everything from the past and be thrilled to make history with several world titles.

Alonso and Mclaren will produce EUPHORIA!


I think James is spot on regarding Alonso ie he won't ever want to work with Ron Dennis again.


I agfree with this.

Alonso's history makes it clear at any given moment in time the relationship is doomed to fail.

Breiatori committed career suicide when pressure made him commit to the atrocity that was crash gate.

Dominacali was never the same after engineseal gate - his departure was so sad and the following interviews so painful to watch - career suicide again

Ron being Ron will never succumb to such BS. Thus spygate has left him untarnushed.

I do believe he would take Alonso back but on his terms not Alonso's.

For that reason I cannot see McLaren and Alonso together again.


When Alonso signed for McLaren I thought it would become another great pairing like Clark/Chapman, Stewart/Tyrell, or Michael/Braun. Was I wrong!

I obviously am missing something because I, once again, think that given the current state of play it would be fascinating to see Alonso back at McLaren. However, as others have remarked, year one with Honda is unlikely to be better than Ferrari.


If Alonso would jump ship now he would be branded forever as the the driver who miserably failed at Ferrari. I don't think this is how his fans would like to remember him.


... remember that when Alonso signed for Mac Lewis was a rookie and a completey unknown quantity, so no one except yourself expected great pairings. Well done.


If Alonso, does decide to leave Ferrari for McLaren, who is the most likely driver to take up his seat?

Also, for Jules, who is a part of the Ferrari Driver academy, would it be a wise choice to switch to another team with Ferrari power (Sauber) if not the Scuderia and is he allowed to go race for a team with some other engine?

And when the Kimi/Alonso era does get over at Ferrari, which superstar driver will they want to get?


Initially I thought Alonso will definitely go to Mclaren and rekindle their relationship.

But the more time passes, I'm starting to get this feeling that he will stay at Ferrari until he retires. In his later years, he has matured like no other and he would have weighed his options properly. Ferrari has a higher chance than Mclaren to rise and give him a competitive package.

As long as he can remain competitive driving wise, then I can't see no reason for him to win another WDC with Ferrari. His drive at the moment is coming from wanting to revive Ferrari into winning ways.

Kimi will be there but only because Ferarri would not want to pay him out for a 2nd time. Such a shame the one we all looked forward to the most has been such a let down. Massa was right all along when he said Alonso was the fastest teammate he's ever had.


wait till he say same about Bottas......


I think Fernando would leave Ferrari were there a seat in a better car available. But there isn't. Both Mercedes and Red Bull have the drivers they want for the forseeable future. Williams currently have a good car, but with their limited resources, they surely won't remain at the front of the grid for long. If he can't go to either of those teams, his best chance is to stay with the Scuderia.


Lack luster performance from Sutil and Kimi. McLaren does not seem to be thrilled with Button. Vergne may face Axe to give way to new comers.

Will change happen is hard to say.


Why is McLaren all of a sudden attractive with Honda is they cannot challenge with the best possible engine on the grid today?


Beacause they'll be able to build their chassis around the engine and will get all the engine data earlier


@Stephen Flynn

McLaren is just a Mercedes customer, they didn't bulid this year's car around the engine. From all Mercedes-powered teams only Mercedes GP did it


They've been building their chassis around the engine with all of the engine data for the last 15+ years and look how well that's turned out ,especially recently.

This years chassis was built around the engine and they are comfortably the poorest performing Mercedes powered team. Remember the "that's a dog of a car" from Eddie Jordan - that was a car built around the engine...

I'm looknig forward to see what the Honda lump can do, but I suspect it'll be problematic for some time.


+1 Very good point. They are not even close to being second best Mercedes engined team at the moment. I fear the expectation (from many posters) that Hondas arrival will immediately propel them straight back to the front, maybe some what wide of the mark.

Matthew Cheshire

Didn't Button drive for Honda in 2008 and got 3 points to finish 18th in the Championship?

Honda couldn't power a BAR/Honda to compete 6 years ago. MacLaren can't win with a Merc engine in 2014.

Surely Button+MacLaren+Honda can't be anyone's idea of a dream team.?


I would not be so sure that it is a bad idea. Remember that before Merc turned up with a complete works team, McLaren was the works team for Stuttgart.

Next year it will be the works team for Honda. Now, Jenson is very close to Japanese culture and not only because he is the boyfriend of Jessica MIchibata, he spends a lot of time there.

He is well liked by the Honda brass, and even though I a am a Lewis fan, I gladly agree that Button is an extremely wise and able driver.

He may surprise us all next year again. If I were McLaren I would keep both my drivers for 2015.


Because everyone knows that McLaren + Honda = Awesome.


Only if history repeats itself !

Matthew Cheshire

That's handy because Honda+Honda = gone in 2 years.

But I'm sure MacLaren is only struggling because the Mercedes unit isn't awesome enough.


Williams were in a much worse situation last year with the championship winning engine.

Next year's front end of the car will be different (more like the Ferrari/Merc nose) and the redisgn will have major consequences for the rest of the car aero.

You never know, they may come up with the goods.


Good point! I think it's the Ron Dennis factor. Things will be running to his liking by then.


Will Honda prefer to work with Button due to their past, or can Mika Haakinen draw Bottas away from Williams to McLaren? Would Williams then sign Jenson, or try to sign up RoGro? Signed contracts have a way of being worked out if the price is right, which it usually is in F1.


I seem to recall that Williams signed Button once before so that bridge may have been burned though Frank did make a profit on the deal !

Rubinho's keyfob

To be honest, all the talk of "multi-year deals in place" may or may not mean anything. We all saw what happened with Raikkonnen at the end of his last stint at Ferrari.

The detail of employment contracts are mosty a civil matter and they can be bought out or broken (as long as any penalty is acceptable to the party that breaks them).

Also, we don't know what the content of the various contracts are (and it is entirely likely that each one is finely tuned) - if they include performance criteria (on either side, such as the driver or team being in a certain position by the midpoint of the season - or even the driver's pay being up to date to reference an occurence that has been reported a few times in the last few years), then there may not even be any penalty as the other party may have failed to live up to their side of the deal and the contract may not be enforceable as it has already been broken.

I have no comment on a particular pairing that I'd like to see other than it would be interesting to see VET up against another WDC to try to get a real measure of the guy, because the juty's still out for me (in prefrerence order, HAM/ALO (can't decide), RAI, ROS (should he do it this year), BUT).


If he can't beat DR, or at least match him by the end of next season, Vettel might desire to go to another team with a top driver, saying the Red Bull cars suits DR's driving style better. I would assume the criticism of him mainly winning those WDCs because of the car, which some people are already concluding (I think prematurely) would get to him.

Matthew Cheshire

+1. There must be a big draw for Vettel to prove himself away from red bull. Also now pressure from inside the nest from Dan and Kvyat. Imagine if Kvyat beats Vettel in testing like Dan? Won't be seen as a fluke this time.

He has to be sizing up Ferrari. He has said so many times and it's a chance do match Schumacher and revive an ailing Ferrari. Full pay packet and he can blame the car if it doesn't work out.

So Ferrari pray for Alonso for one more year with Vettel in 2016? If Kimi can work his way up to number 2 driver, that could save him, but better to have bianchi next year for continuity into 2016. Or would Vettel insist on no new guys in his contract!?!


Don't you think Ricciardo is giving us a real measure of Vettel?


What about max chilton ?


He'll be there at Marussia ... money talks.


But will Marussia still be there?


Looking at Ferrari, I believe we shall have the same driver line-up in 2015 for with the team being every driver's dream team, the only way they get to leave is if they're dismissed or retire.

Regards Bianchi, I don't know how the team will play it as they do not like putting unproven young guns in the car so it may take a while.

At Williams, despite having a multi-year contract, I think the team will get tempted to buy Massa out of his contract if Bottas keeps doing well against him.

As for Mclaren, I think Grosjean may have a chance as Jenson's replacement because team principal Eric is Grosjean's manager.

I think it would be difficult for the team to replace Mini-mag because he was Ron Dennis' choice.

Mercedes look pretty stable for a number of seasons as both drivers work well together with the sharing of data and so the team would love to have this continuity.

Red Bull on the other hand is a little doubt for with Newey stepping back from 2015, this would give Vettel the best opportunity to move on at the end of his contract in 2015.

If I were Hulkenberg I would be pushing for a Ferrari drive as replacement for Kimi in 2016 and so this would mean staying put at Force India in 2015.


I think when Kimi leaves, whether in 2016 or mid 2015 if Kimi gets bored, Bianchi will come to Ferrari rather than Hulk

IMHO he has a better chance to go to a renewed Williams in place of Massa for 2016, if Williams is still beating Force India consistently

Ferrari should push for Bianchi in place of Sutil at Sauber next year, maybe do a bit better than with Marussia

GUT might stay at Sauber with funding, Mexican GP and some driving improvement

Matthew Cheshire

Dan said Ferrari wasn't his target. And I think Alonso is dreaming of something else, especially for his birthday...

Kimi is dreaming if he expects to see out his contract without improving. Montezemelo's job is in doubt now. Why is Kimi safe??

Mattiachi is saying he wants a 360 degree change. Given that primary school kids will tell you 360 degrees is full circle, he's either aiming low, or he's thick as 10 pizzas.


I think before you insult someone you should maybe try viewing things in a different perspective as english fans do. When he says 360deg change -he is looking all around him and making changes everywhere - not going round in circles. A little perspective people -a boss is at the centre of all decisions not on the outside going round in circles..


The 360 comment about Mattiachi is a little unfair, because he obviously wasn't talking about a circular motion but rather a radial one, either from the centre outwards or viceversa. He meant that change should go in all directions (or come from all directions, if you prefer)


Reminds me of that scene in Last Action Hero with Charles Dance...


As long as they all give 110% whilst implementing the 360 degree change, it'll be ok.


@ Matthew Cheshire

I think Kimi has another year at Ferrari because terminating his current contract would mean Ferrari have to pay him again for no work done.

As for the 360 degree change I guess Marco didn't realize what he implied but am sure everybody knows what he meant in that the team are going to make radical changes.

kenneth chapman

a bit of a laugh really....if you are aiming for a 360Deg change then you will finish up where you started and if that position is merde now it will be merde when you arrive next....NO?


I think it's all about going for the bigger number. When talking about changes, a lot of people won't just stop at 180° and instead will go all the way down to 360° which is pretty much the starting point


I can see Mclaren moving JB out, but I think it would be a mistake.

For all that is said about KMag shaming him this year, the results actually suggest otherwise. He has more points, better qualifying (just, but that has always been his Achilles heel) and better race finishes.

Also JB has a big following in Japan, unless they get Alonso I don't think there is a better fit in terms of experience and marketability.

I could see Grosjean at Mclaren though...


I like the sentence by James "it’s hard to see Alonso wanting to work with Ron Dennis again."

In fact it was Alonso who blackmailed Dennis, NOT the other way round.

Dennis called in Whitmarsh to witness the event. People forget Alonso was nearly kicked out of F1!!


I don't think Ron will ever hire Alonso again, he respects himself too much.

He'll say anything to destabilise Ferrari though.

So Alonso has no choice but to stay where he is.


@ Heinz

You have stated the obvious. Yet it was Whitmarsh last season and Dennis this season have already tried to lure Alonso away from Ferrari? Could you enlight us why? Despite the off track controversies and bust up the team Mclaren had both championships covered back in 2007. Had the Mclaren team reacted in smarter way than they did Mclaren could have won both titles back in 2007.

Why the heck Ron still want to sign Alonso still after the shambles they had in Mclaren back in 2007? Alonso will deliver irrespective of the car he drives for, He is the best in the F1 grid when it comes to racing and performances. Ron know this and he needs someone with huge hunger to deliver results.

Remember it's Mclaren and Ron dennis are interested to hire Alonso again, it is no the other way around. Alonso can still snub Mclaren. We do not really know what happens behind the scene in driver markets

AT the end of the day. It is all about results and performances on the track that counts. It does not really matter who blackmails who off the track.


What if, next year Ferrari becomes more competitive than they are now and Kimi feels cozy enough to grab some more points be it beating Alonso or not?

I would think Ferrari would never need Bianchi unless Alonso bails! It could happen you know. It is obvious that we can't suggest Kimi has lost speed.

1 good year with Ferrari, Kimi might re-consider calling the quits.


@Krischar, if this is so then why teams are not so keen to grab Alonso. RBR did not and so does Mercedes this year does not seem to be too keen to get best driver in their team or if they think HAM/ROS pairing to be the strongest. Alonso has one biggest drawback (his ego) which could destabilize teams.


wait till he say same about Bottas......


As a spectator, surely the most hoped for outcome is Alonso going to McLaren! Just to see what happens!

However, as Ferrari and Red Bull proved in the past, and Mercedes are proving once again, you need to take the long view to win championships and develop a package over time. McLaren have the cash, motivation, experience and resources to do this with Honda and Alonso. So potential fireworks aside, they could actually pull off something quite memorable.

Ferrari, in comparison, I'm not so sure about. Cash, motivation, and experience they have in abundance, but they seem to have a cultural problem in management that's stifling results. The times have changed around them and I'm not so sure the team (i.e., Luca) is willing to change with them. Ron, even though he seems just as stubborn and autocratic as his Ferrari counterpart, is much more adaptable and open to change.

Whether Alonso would replace Button or Magnussen is an interesting question also. Alonso could help Magnussen develop, but going on Alonso's track record I don't see that happening. Alonso and Button might prove the stronger team, even though Magnussen deserves further opportunities.

Regardless of what happens, I think it's fair to say that Ferrari - at least in the eyes of it's star driver - is no longer necessarily seen as "every drivers dream team" as mentioned above. The Prancing Horse needs top down changes to succeed - someone call Alitalia!


I think the biggest change predictably would be at mclaren but also Williams. I think that button and bottas will swap places with button finishes his career where it started and bottas being the consistent performer this year. I can also see Williams wanting button for new sponsors. Alongside bottas I'd love to see the Hulk but can't see a change with K Mag.

I think sainz will also replace Jev, can't wait to see verstappen in action though


The top drivers move to the top teams when they have a proven good car. There is no way Alonso will make a move to Mac next year. His only option other than a Ferrari is Williams ( which I would love to see ) but equally will never happen.


"The top drivers move to the top teams when they have a proven good car"

Recent history would disagree with you. Lewis and Kimi both moved to teams that were not performing well.

Matthew Cheshire

Using the questionable list of driver salaries currently circulating, you get some crazy numbers comparing driver cost for each point they earn. Excluding drivers on Zero points-

Median drivers are Massa and Perez, both costing 100,000 Euros per point

Lewis is slightly worse at 105,000Euros

Alonso is tidy at 191,000

Vettel and Bianchi both deliver points at 250,000 each

Button charges 266,000 Euros

Kimi is costing 850,000 each point, easily doubling second worst Grosgean at 375,000

At the other end of the scale Magnussen is 27,000 and Bottas is 10,000.

Bargain of the century is Ricciardo at 5,700 Euros per point- 44 times cheaper than Vettel and 143 times cheaper than Kimi.

It is unbelievable that the Kimi's contract doesn't have a performance clause. He cannot be sure of returning to Ferrari, no matter what his contract dates are.

Button must be looking at a pay cut if he's 10 times more expensive than Magnussen

Surely the teams will be looking at the performance of old vs new talent on the grid and deciding that the established drivers aren't the best investment?

Especially Ferrari. The only leading team without a rookie and they are suffering for it. And they have Bianchi sitting on the bench?


I could try and score points for free if they let me

Matthew Cheshire

I'd prefer Maldonardo's deal and take millions to score zero.



Compared to LH, NR is also a bargain at 62,000 Eu/P, even though LH is probably not quite as expensive at 97,000 Eu/P. Doesn't put LH in a strong bargaining position right now. But add a second title, different matter.

NH at 43,500 Eu/P is also a bargain. FA and SV (not quite sure what you think he makes, but my source quotes 16.5mm Eu/ season) at 185,500 Eu/P are quite evenly matched.

This comparison makes for interesting comparisons and puts more pressure on drivers to perform, all things being equal with reliability and accidents and "other" circumstances.

Matthew Cheshire

I think it shows the expectation from the team and driver for what they planed to achieve. So roughly everyone north of Massa and Perez have underachieved - by their own reckoning.

Bianchi and Grosgean are exceptions in that they have taken 3rd rate seats and everything they have scored is really a bonus.

It would be interesting to see what the bonuses are as well.


very cool stuff


Just speaking of Bianchi, of course he'd like a faster car for 2015 but if there's no chance of a top drive next year I think he might as well stay at Marussia.


There's no real expectations of success at Marussia, so when he bags points he looks good.

When a seat does become available at Ferrari he's pretty much a shoe-in.

Of course I could be wrong and he could end up at Sauber for example, but we'll see.


I would like to see Hulkenberg in one of the top teams, especially after the comments Perez made recently. Also I hope Grosjean either moves to McLaren or stays at Lotus and they improve next year with their new engine supplier. If Button says sayanora, or if Honda say it to him, I wouldn't be too bothered. He's had a good run and when young drivers perform like RIC and BOT this year it really makes things exciting.



What did Perez say?


The best team mate he has ever had and a complete driver.


Actually if I were Williams I would ditch Massa and sign Hulkenberg. That would be an exciting team.


I would love to see Hulkenberg and Grosjean drive for McLaren. I don't see Hamilton or Alonso returning yo McLaren.


Sutil, Vergne and as much as I'd hate to admit Kobayashi will probably have their last year in F1 this year.

Mclaren I'm really unsure about at the moment. I'm not sure why everyone thinks they will be world beaters next year when they can't even make the most competitive engine (Mercedes) work this year. Mclaren and it's current drivers need each other next year but neither wants to admit it yet. It seems both sides are bargaining. Perhaps Grosjean will be an outside shot at Mclaren but it's hard to tell since there really hasn't been any mention of it. The only link we have is that Boullier is the Mclaren principal.

I believe all others will remain in their current drives.

kenneth chapman

some interesting comments and thoughts but personally i doubt whether there will be any changes to the ''big guns'. mercedes/red bull/ferrari will not make any changes for '15 unless the second half of the season throws up a few curve balls.

williams and FI will most likely not make changes either but sauber and some of the lower teams may well do. lotus has only one seat in doubt but for grosjean the alternatives are not that great. perhaps he would be better off staying at lotus with the pending arrival of the mercedes engine boosting their chances in '15. TR are another that may implement change but it will only be JEV's seat that will be under scrutiny. it is time for him to go. he is no better or worse that either of the two predecessors, buemi/algersuari and based on them then it's time for him to move on...where is anyones guess.

the next eight races will be notable as those with a 'change' tag around their neck will be doing everything humanly possible to put on a good show.


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...


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


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.


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 😉


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.


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.



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.


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?


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!!


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?


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




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?


@, 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.


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.


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 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.


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


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)


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.


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.


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


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.......


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.


"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.


Hulk to Ferrari! -


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.

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