Toro Rosso has recently sacked Sebastian Bourdais from the team after he failed to produce satisfying results. The question I am asking is which teams should follow suit and get rid of their underperforming driver?
First, and probably the one name that springs to mind when speaking of poor performance, is Nelson Piquet.
Nelson has been given a season and a half in a top team with a respectable budget. He has consistently failed to deliver on race day. To be perfectly fair to Nelson, his teammate, Fernando Alonso, is making the Brazilian look pathetic.
After being gifted a drive thanks to his surname, Piquet has out-qualified his Spanish teammate just ONCE in 27 races. I make that a three-percent success rate, which is unacceptable.
If that isn't even proof to Flavio Briatore that Piquet needs to go, let's compare the stats of Piquet and teammate Alonso from Australia 2008 onwards.
Top 10 qualifying: Alonso—22
Finishes in the points: Alonso—17
With drivers such as Roman Grosjean and Lucas Di Grassi waiting in the wings, Piquet should be watching his back. I predict that he'll be out before the end of the season.
The second driver that appears to have been underperforming is Kazuki Nakajima of Williams.
Despite improved performance this year due to all round better machinery, Nakajima is still lagging behind his teammate, Nico Rosberg.
Kazuki was introduced into F1 at the end of the 2007 season in Brazil when he was given his debut. Since then, he hasn't really performed well at all.
Some could make allowances for the 2008 campaign as the Williams FW30 really wasn't up to playing with the big boys in the playground. However, in 2009, Williams has really made a leap forward, so there should be no excuse for poor results.
With Rosberg lying in seventh place in the championship with 20.5 points, Nakajima still hasn't scored any points this season and is 20th in the standings.
Lets compare stats for these two drivers (from Brazil 2007 onwards):
Top 10 qualifying: Rosberg—16
Finishes in the points: Rosberg—13
Again, the statistics seem to speak volumes against Nakajima. If performances and points don't come soon, I think we'll be seeing the last of Kazuki at Abu Dhabi, with a new driver coming in for 2010.
The final driver who could potentially get sacked before the season is out is Rubens Barrichello. This is a controversial choice, I know, but after his post-race interview at the German Grand Prix, his future has come into question.
Rubens was angry with the Brawn team and said, "It was a good show from the team of how to lose a race. I did all I had to do, I was first to the first corner. They made me lose it."
"I don't want to talk to anybody in the team because I don't want to understand; there will be a lot of 'blah blah blah' and I don't want to hear that."
Earlier on in the season, Barrichello criticized his team again and threatened to walk out if he found out if championship leader, Jenson Button, was being favoured over him.
I don't think any stats are needed for these two drivers because it isn't Rubens' performance that may get him sacked, it is his attitude. If both Rubens and the team can put last weekend behind them and get on with getting back to the podium and the front of the grid, I don't think Rubens will be a problem for Brawn.
However, bad attitude or not, I think Rubens will be out of Brawn GP and they will have a new driver for 2010. In my opinion, they only kept him for 2009 because of his experience.