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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Putting all of the eggs in F1 basket

How many rookies are we expecting to turn up on the grid in 2013 and how many seats are available for them to fill?  On I wondered who on the grid was driving to keep their jobs and worked out that of the 24 places on the grid 17 of those were guaranteed to be occupied by current drivers.  Since that article was written Toro Rosso have confirmed their two drivers leaving 5 places up for grabs.

I'm sure that Bruno Senna's money will guarantee him a seat so that will leave only 4 potential seats for hire next year.  The availability of those seats are dependent upon Heikki Kovalainen, Kamui Kobayashi, and Romain Grosjean not getting any drive next year.  Michael Schumacher's retirement and the consequent driver movement has only really left one seat currently available and every rookie seems to be chasing it.

The driver's who are looking for the seat are

Esteban Gutierrez - Mexican driver supported by Carlos Slim (massive Sauber sponsor)
Luiz Razia - Brazilian racing driver with four sponsors (not in the Carlos Slim bracket)
Valtteri Bottas - Williams test driver who says he has found 75% of the funding needed to take over Senna's Race Seat
Adrian Sutil - Is reported to be in advanced talks with Force India about a return, rumoured to bring about £10 million with him
Sebastian Buemi - does not appear to have much in the way of sponsorship
Jaime Alguersuari - relying on his little black book of Pirelli 2013 compound facts and figures
Robert Frijns - Dutch driver with some backing.

Add in the fact that Bruno Senna brings about £12 Million, that Kobayashi is scrabbling around for sponsors, and that Lotus are making regular statements that they do not need a paying driver and it may well be that Heikki Kovalainen is the only casualty of the season.

Razia is quoted as saying:
Seats are available, there are some decisions that need to be made from the teams. I have to say that we have done our job now, but if I was to say the team that I'm going with and am most close to doing a deal with then it will upset the team, so I prefer to not say whatever is happening. But I can say we have some good conversations and we are quite forward with some teams. We just need now to wait for them to say OK.
The F1 websites are saying that Carlos Slim has told "Cancha" magazine that he expects Gutierrez to drive alongside Nico Hulkenberg next year at Sauber if he is to continue his sponsorship of the team. It is unlikely that Monisha Kaltenborn will allow that money to go elsewhere so I would expect Gutierrez to be confirmed as No.2 driver at Sauber over the coming weeks.

Roger Benoit says that Force India are expected to confirm their 2013 driver line-up on Wednesday next with di Resta widely expected to be partnered by one of Sutil, Senna, or Buemi.  (I'll have to paraphrase Benoit's quote from Buemi as its is a translation) he quotes Buemi as saying that if he brought £5 million to the team he'd be immediately confirmed.

This kind of public discussion around money would probably not sit well with his potential employers so we can expect that he won't get the seat.  Sutil or Senna, £10 or £12 million?

I don't think there's any question but that Williams will confirm either Senna or Bottas as their second driver, so we will have nine drivers chasing a potential three seats, one at Sauber partnering Nico Hulkenberg, one at Force India partnering Paul di Resta, and one at Caterham alongside Vitaly Petrov.

This leaves Caterham F1 as the final potential seat, if they don't confirm Kovalainen, and the potential for 5 drivers to vie for that seat.

I'm afraid that Frijns, Buemi, and Razia will have to accept third driver positions for the time being while Alguersuari and Kobayashi will have to move elsewhere.