NOVEMBER 3, 2009
Who goes where in 2010?
The Formula 1 season is over and there are expected to be decisions soon over who will be driving where in 2010. The situation at the moment is that World Champions Brawn GP has yet to confirm a driver. However it is almost certain that Jenson Button will re-sign and will be joined by Nico Rosberg. Rubens Barrichello is confirmed with the Williams team.
Red Bull will stay with Renault engines and has deals confirmed with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, so will go through the winter with no major changes to the team.
McLaren had Lewis Hamilton under contract and will continue with Mercedes-Benz engines, although there are doubts about whether the relationship will be the same as it has been up to now. The team will probably replace Heikki Kovalainen as he did not score sufficient points this year. It is not yet clear who will join Hamilton. Kimi Raikkonen is likely if he will agree a deal that is financially realistic, if not the drive could go to someone else. Several drivers would like to join McLaren, notably Adrian Sutil, but the team could spring a surprise if a deal with Raikkonen is not possible.
Ferrari will change both drivers in 2010 with Felipe Massa returning from his injury and Fernando Alonso switching to Maranello from Renault.
The future of the Toyota remains uncertain at the moment but if the team is still in business it is safe to assume that one seat will go to new boy Kamui Kobayashi. A number of drivers have been mentioned in relation to the other seat but no decisions will be made until the future of the team is clear.
The future of Toyota to a large extent will also dictate the future of the Sauber Qadbak team. This will switch from BMW to Ferrari engines but nothing can be done until its entry is certain. If Toyota pulls out the Swiss team will become the 13th entry. If that happens Nick Heidfeld will be retained. There has been no real discussion about the second drive.
Williams is switching from Toyota engines to Cosworths and has announced that Rubens Barrichello will lead the team with new boy Nico Hulkenberg alongside him.
Renault's future ownership is under discussion but the team has already signed a deal with Robert Kubica. It is expected that Timo Glock will get the second seat as Romain Grosjean has done nothing to warrant any further chances with the team.
Force India will continue with Mercedes and Tonio Liuzzi is believed to have a 2010 contract already. Adrian Sutil will probably stay on but the tem has recently done some simulator work with Neel Jani and Karun Chandhok and if Sutil moves on Jani is the favourite to get the drive.
Scuderia Toro Rosso is building its own cars in 2010 although these are likely to be developments of the current Red Bull design. Neither Sebastien Buemi nor Jaime Alguersuari is confirmed for 2010 and the team might benefit from a driver with a bit more experience.
The four new teams have yet to say much but Campos Meta will have Bruno Senna in one car, probably with backing from Petrobras and other Brazilian companies. Pedro de la Rosa is thought likely to be the second driver, but he is believed to be waiting to see what happens with the second McLaren drive before committing himself to Campos. There has also been talk of de la Rosa at USF1. The name Nelson Piquet has also been mentioned in relation to Campos.
The Manor team will become Virgin F1 at some point in the next few weeks, if all goes according to plan. The word is that Lucas di Grassi will bring funding for one car and Christian Klien has been talking hard with the team for some weeks.
USF1 has yet to name any drivers but as there are no Americans around with superlicences the team will probably have to rely on European veterans. The obvious choice is Pedro de la Rosa although Jacques Villeneuve may also get a look-in. The long term goal is to get an American and the men most likely to move up in the years ahead are GP2 driver Alexander Rossi and Jonathan Summerton if he can get himself into GP2.
The Lotus team seems to be pretty well organised with backing from a Malaysian joint stock company. Jarno Trulli is being strongly rumoured as one driver while the Malaysians would like to see Fairuz Fauzy in one of the cars. The other name that has been mentioned is that of Anthony Davidson, who may aslo be on other lists as he is a highly experienced test driver and thus his experience may get him a chance with one of the other new teams. However this will largely depend on who has money as the budget sare going to be important in some cases.