The 5 Most Desirable F1 Seats Still Available
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We’re getting to the stage of the Formula 1 season where we know who is going where for next season.
Many decisions have already been made, certainly with regards to drivers at the sharp end of the grid.
But F1’s game of musical chairs means that when one driver moves to another team, a seat becomes available.
In particular, Ferrari’s recent announcement that Kimi Raikkonen will partner Fernando Alonso at the team for 2014 may have repercussions further down the grid.
Here then are the top five seats still up for grabs for 2014.
Jules Bianchi has performed wonders for the minnows this season, comprehensively out-driving teammate Max Chilton and mixing it with teams he has no right to.
He is now a highly sought-after driver and is likely to be snapped up by a bigger mid-table team sooner or later. And Chilton’s place in the team seems far from secure despite the finances he brings to the team; his results can’t keep going the way they have been.
One driver who will be keeping a close eye on proceedings is current GP2 star Sam Bird who lies second in the standings and is eyeing a move to F1.
Prediction: Either one or both seats to be filled for 2014.
Another team at the tail end of the grid is Marussia’s rivals Caterham.
Both Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic were hired on financial grounds but there has been talk that the team may have attracted significant sponsorship for 2014 to be able to hire a driver on merit.
And that driver is likely to be Heikki Kovalainen, who was jettisoned at the end of 2012 but has just been re-hired as the team’s test and reserve driver.
Prediction: Kovaleinen to return to one of the race seats for 2014.
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Make no mistake about it, Nico Hulkenberg is currently outperforming the capabilities of the car he is currently driving.
We saw it with Fernando Alonso at Minardi, Ayrton Senna at Toleman and James Hunt at Hesketh.
Okay, so Hulkenberg has some way to go to be mentioned in the same breath as those great names but his performances have made him a valuable commodity in the driver market.
With a seat now open at Lotus, it looks a formality that Hulkenberg will go and that means another seat free at Sauber.
Prediction: Jules Bianchi to partner Esteban Gutierrez.
2. Toro Rosso
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The announcement that Daniel Ricciardo will join Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull means another seat has opened up at Toro Rosso.
There are several candidates for the drive but Red Bull’s driver development programme means that the seat is likely to be filled by a driver from their junior formulae teams.
Prediction: Antonio Felix da Costa to make the step up from Formula Renault 3.5.
The most coveted seat left available with Raikkonen’s move to Ferrari is the very one the Finnish driver left.
Lotus is a proven race-winning team although the Finn has been able to wring much more from the car than teammate Romain Grosjean.
It's a seat that many drivers would like to fill with ESPNF1 reporting that Felipe Massa is already in negotiations with Lotus about the drive.
But it appears there is only one choice to fill this seat for 2014 and that is Nico Hulkenberg.
Prediction: Hulkenberg and Grosjean to team up.