2010 Formula 1 Driver Market: Where the Best Behind the Wheel Score New Deals
It's that time again: The driver market opens for business. In F1 this is the time for those whose contacts are up for grabs to show off what they can do and how good they actually are.
So far in the last few weeks we have seen drivers dropped, hired and re-signed for another stint. But there has yet to be announced a driver switch.
With Fernando Alonso expected to be announced as a Ferrari driver in two weeks at Monza, the driver market is about to be blown open once again.
McLaren has warned their driver Heikki Kovalainen he has to up his game to retain his seat, and if he doesn't we can expect a large group of drivers trying to bid for his spot in the team.
Nico Rosberg appears to be at the top of that list, but the likes of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld will be closely looked at. From a marketing point of view it would make sense to employ a German driver, so Heidfeld and Rosberg along with Timo Glock will be more attractive to McLaren.
If Alonso does make the switch to the Italian squad, then that would leave an open seat at Renault. Robet Kubica has been linked with the drive and this probably looks more likely than a switch to McLaren.
Toyota's future hangs in the balance of the powers that be in Japan. The wait in the signing off of their 2010 budget is getting everyone at Cologne a bit anxious, even more so for that of Jarno Trulli, who looks like he could be on the move after the announcement that the team are unlikely to retain the Italian for 2010.
He could end up giving one of the new three teams a hand, lending his experience and knowledge to the new comers.
Ferrari looks to have their driver line up sorted for 2010. As mentioned earlier it looks almost certain that Alonso will make the switch in the next season. Felipe Massa will most certainly be retained, as his impressive work in 2008 and his consistency in this year's championship will have earned him a well deserved drive, provided he can fully recover from his accident in Hungary.
Kimi Raikkonen has been very quiet about his future, feeding rumors he is to leave F1 altogether.
Moving further down the grid before going back to the sharp end, Force India are most likely to keep hold of Adrian Sutil, who has been linked to a McLaren drive also.
But the feeling is he will remain at the Silverstone based squad for 2010. The likelihood of Giancarlo Fisichella staying is 50/50. Not a lot has been mentioned about where he may end up next year.
Red Bull has their seats firmly filled next year, with both first team drivers signed, sealed, and delivered (pardon the pun...) for next year at least.
The sister team Torro Rosso is most likely to keep their two youngsters Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari as both have impressed in their short Formula 1 careers. (My view is that Alguersuari is a one to watch for the future, keep an eye on him)
To Grove, where Williams resides...Nico Rosberg has made no secret of wanting to switch to a more competitive side, but Williams has improved and Nico is driving well, scoring points consistently.
So he has a lot to think about, but the feeling of the paddock and media is that the German will move South Westerly to Woking and join the Silver Arrows.
Another big talking point about Williams is their desire to to cut the contract between them and Toyota over engine supply. This would then put the struggling Nakajima at risk. It is said he is only driving with the team by way of a heavy influence from the Japanese manufacturer.
Brawn has announced there is no need to look for new drivers, and they may be right. Rubens Barrichello has just one his first race in five years and Jenson Button's flying first half of the season will be hard to forget.
Rubens has said he is still eager to race next year and it's just way too early for Jenson to hang up his helmet.
BMW has decided that they no longer wish to compete as a manufacture outfit anymore so the team is up for sale, but they still have to re-apply for their grid slot.
If they are successfully bought, most likely by their former owner Peter Sauber, then they will be looking to find or keep hold of their drivers. If this is the case Jarno Trulli may be looked at and also Nick Heidfeld will also be in with a chance to stay at Hinwill.
Movers and shakers for 2010 look to be aplenty, but there are also many staying put. It looks to be an exciting time with six extra seats becoming available and some fresh new blood to the scene keeping the older and wiser ones in check.
There is never a dull moment in the world of F1 off the track, if it's not a battle between the FIA and the teams it's a battle over drivers. Come December 31, 2009 we should all know who is going where.
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