The War for Talent: F1 2010

August 14, 2009

This period in the F1 year is normally referred to as the silly season as most of the teams look to secure their drivers for the following year. Drivers are of course a very important ingredient in the performance of an F1 team. The fact that Michael Schumacher will not now be competing at the forthcoming Grand Prix in Valencia is bad news for F1 fans and particularly for the Valencia race organisers, but it is potentially good news for many F1 drivers who, in Bernie Ecclestone’s view, would have been given a bit of driving lesson by the German maestro. But the other good news for the drivers is that next year there should be a 30% increase in seats available with 26 planned for 2010, so experienced drivers, who know how to win Grand Prix, are going to be at a premium. This also means that established performers may be able to exercise more influence than usual over the identity of their team mate.

So who will end up where? If we look at ‘number 1’ drivers then we can reasonably safely say that Lewis Hamilton will be at McLaren, Jenson Button at Brawn and we also know that Webber and Vettel will be in Red Bull Racing for 2010. The interesting question is who will be at Ferrari? The favourite seems to be Fernando Alonso, with Kimi Raikkonen having a contract for 2010, this suggests that it will be Massa who is out of a drive at Maranello. I suspect this to be unlikely, Massa, presuming he is fit, is a well regarded part of the Ferrari family, it is more likely that a deal is done to release Raikkonen and pair Alonso with Massa, but at this point this is pure conjecture on my part.

So I suspect that some of the old stagers such as Trulli, Fisichella and Barrichello will still be around next year simply as a reference point for some of the new teams, I’ve also guessed that Kimi will retire and concentrate on more Scandinavian activities such as rallying (alternatively Ferrari could loan him to a team such as Toro Rosso for whom they currently provide engines), I could be wrong of course, let’s see.

A Guess at the 2010 Driver Line Up
Brawn: Jenson Button/ Bruno Senna
Red Bull Racing: Mark Webber/ Seb Vettel
Ferrari: Fernando Alonso/ Felipe Massa
Toyota: Jarno Trulli/ Timo Glock
McLaren: Lewis Hamilton/ Heikki Kovalainen
Williams: Nico Rosberg/Kazuki Nakajima
Renault: Robert Kubica/Romain Grosjean
Toro Rosso: Seb Buemi/Jaime Alguersuari
Force India: Giancarlo Fisichella/Adrian Sutil
USF1: Alexander Wurz/Seb Bourdais
Campos: Pedro de la Rosa/??
Manor Rubens Barrichello/??
Sauber: Nick Heidfeld/Nelsinho Piquet (if his dad puts in some money!)

Mark Webber, one of the drivers who knows where he'll be in 2010 (alongside my co-author Richard West)

Mark Webber, one of the drivers who knows where he'll be in 2010 (alongside my co-author Richard West)

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