MAY 10, 2002
The silly season begins
THE signing of Rubens Barrichello for Ferrari in 2003 and 2004 is the start of the 2003 silly season as the best drive available is now settled and so the focus will switch to who will drive next year for McLaren, Renault F1 and Sauber.
McLaren is believed to have both of its current drivers under contract but there are believed to be options which could be exercised if McLaren wanted a change. The team is likely to aim for stability with David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen although the frustrations of this year may lead to a change. Renault needs to decide what to do with Jenson Button. There are believed to be different factions within the organization some of which want Button to stay for two more years while others want Fernando Alonso brought in alongside Jarno Trulli.
Sauber is in a difficult position in that Nick Heidfeld has reached the end of his contract and is rumored to be being courted by Toyota. Felipe Massa is believed to be on a one-year deal with a Sauber option but as Kimi Raikkonen showed last year Massa could move on if another big team were to show an interest. The possibility of losing both drivers is one that worries the technical men at Sauber and helps to explain the recent low-profile attempts by the team to find a test driver so that in the event of both drivers departing Sauber will have someone on the staff who knows the car.
No movement is expected until it becomes clear what is happening at Renault and Sauber.
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