F1 : Driver Market Update

15 Jul

With the summer break just 2 races away, the driver market has already started buzzing with news of drivers extending contracts with their existing outfits, many others being linked to changing teams and few others losing their race seats altogether.

The first major news is from the reigning constructor champions and current leaders Red Bull Racing that has re-signed Mark Webber, second repeat winner this season, for the 2013 season. Webber is happy to continue for the 8th season with the team and so is the RBR management. No particular driver from previous year’s Torro Rosso line up showing potential also made the decision straight forward. Despite showing potential over the past few races, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa’s race seat is still very much under threat. The fourth place finish at Silverstone can only work in his favor. Alonso has been doing exceedingly well for the Driver’s championship but Ferrari will be looking for a candidate who can help the outfit compete for the Constructor’s championship with 2 cars.

Lewis Hamilton has been in the news for the past few weeks for a possible contract extension with McLaren or a high profile move to Lotus or partner Alonso at Ferrari. That might not be such a good idea looking at their history during the 2007 season. McLaren are rumored to have offered a multi-million dollar multi-year deal to Hamilton. Jenson Button’s season has taken a hit after the first few races but his position with the team is secure. Lotus had taken a big gamble by taking 2 drivers who had both been away from Formula1 for 2 years. Romain Grosjean has particularly been very impressive and looks the best bet for the much awaited win for Lotus. Kimi Raikkonen has not done too bad either but he wouldn’t have expected such competition from the Frenchman. Grosjean is most likely to be retained by Lotus for the 2013 Season while Kimi already has a contract with Lotus.

The team synonomous with Germany, Mercedes AMG, could very well resign the seven time world champion Michael Schumacher for the next season as well. He has not had the best return to F1 but the fastest time in Monaco Qualifying and 3rd place finish at Valencia would here made him hungry for more. We can expect more details in the next 5-6 weeks. Schumacher has recently hinted at extending his contract.

The midfield is much closer to the top teams this year, Sauber and Williams have a couple of podiums and a race win to their name. The recent outburst against Pastor Maldonado and poor form of Bruno Senna is a worry for Williams. This could just mean that both their seats are open. The Sauber driver’s contract runs out at the end of current Season but both, Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi are likely to be re-signed. Vijay Mallya’s Sahara Force India also looks set to re-sign Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta for 2013 but di Resta parting ways with Anthony Hamilton has added a new angle to this.

Torro Rosso has tried a new line up in 2012 and we may only get to know by the end of season if they will retain the drivers or look for new talent. They desperately need to prepare at the least 1 driver to be able to move up to Red Bull to grab Webber’s seat once it is vacant. Caterham, Marussia and HRT will all take time till December to finalize their line-up with fund inflow being a significant factor. Hiedfeld, Sutil, Kubica (fitness permitting), Algersuari would also be eyeing a return to the grid.

We can expect lots of high stakes poker for the next few months till the end of the season but for now, we’ll shift our focus to Germany, Hockenheimring for the Round 10 of 2012 season. Will we see a new face on the podium or will it be the same old faces?

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