Long-term planning at BMW

As we suggested would happen, Heikki Kovalainen is going to remain in the Renault F1 camp in 2006, doing the test driving for the team in place of Franck Montagny. Montagny was last seen heading for the United States hoping a drive in Champ Car racing.

The news means that BMW will almost certainly now settle for Jacques Villeneuve in 2006 and what is more interesting is the identity of the team's third driver, who will almost certainly step in and replace Villeneuve in 2007. One of the men who would like the job is Dan Wheldon, the Indianapolis 500 winner and Indy Racing League champion, who is willing to spend a year learning the F1 ropes. But BMW seems to be baulking at the commitment and Wheldon is not going to be test driver without a solid deal for 2007. The interesting point is why BMW does not snap up Wheldon and the only logical conclusion is that BMW has big ambitions for one of its own, probably young German Sebastian Vettel. The problem is that he is only 18 and will need another year in Formula 3. He will drive in 2006 for the dominant ASM team and thus has every chance of winning the Formula 3 Eurocup and thus, in theory at least, might be in a position to race in F1 in 2007. This is pushing it, however, but BMW may not want to commit to someone else for too long. Nick Heidfeld has a contract until the end of 2008 and it would be logical for Villeneuve's replacement to have a deal running the same period to avoid there being changes every year.

Follow grandprixdotcom on Twitter

Print News Story