Formula One 2008 is over...Lewis Hamilton has taken his first championship crown, and Ferrari secured another Constructors Championship. Next up is 2009, with new changes and coverage changed from ITV to the BBC.
We know about these...what about the drivers...who deserves to stay, and who deserves to go, based on last season's performance? Some may have moved elsewhere, but for the rest, I will give opinions on whether they should stay or go. And remember, these are just opinions and not facts.
Definites to stay:
Lewis Hamilton:He says he wants to stay at McLaren for the rest of his career. I will say there's no better team for him right now. He gels well there and it would be a shocking day indeed, if he ever moved. The reigning champion and favourite for the 2009 crown.
Felipe Massa: When he's on his day, he is fast, fast, fast and no-one can match him. A definite champion one day, and with the Ferrari team right behind him, he'll be a favourite for the 2009 crown.
Robert Kubica: If BMW can deliver the car, then there is no reason this guy cannot win the World Championship. He has great talent, great raw speed, and just needs the right car to win races regularly. His time will come.
Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr.:These two have been contracted to Renualt for 2009. A wise move from Fernando to stay, as Renault are making strides with his awesome talent, and he could contend for wins in 2009, and maybe even the title. Piquet had a mixed first season but can improve.
Sebastien Vettel:Definitely one for the future. Brought great speed from the unfancied Toro Rosso car. Manged to chalk up his first victory at Monza, an there is the potential for many more. Moving to Red Bull will either make or break the career of this young German.
Jenson Button: Contracted to Honda for 2009. A good driver, just needs the right car to get back up there.
Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock: As long as Toyota make good strides, these two can make a good impression next year. Trulli needs to improve race pace, and Glock is one for the future for sure.
Maybes to stay with current teams
Heikki Kovalainen: Had a sketchy season. Was never really on the pace of Hamilton, and had good qualifying pace, but poor race pace at times. Had a win gifted to him at Hungary by a blown engine to Massa. He needs to improve, but I reckon he can cut it. He could find next year tough though.
Kimi Raikkonen:Has the motivation been there? Last year's world champion had a mixture of form, sometimes brilliant, sometimes poor. Only chalked up two race victories this season and had to play second fiddle to Massa in the closing races. Contracted by Ferrari for at least another year, he needs to up his game a little and perform consistently in 2009.
Mark Webber: He's a very good talent in F1 but bad reliability and luck have let him down on many occasions. He can be a regular point scorer...he just needs his luck to improve.
Nico Rosberg: Flashes of speed have shone through sometimes during a tough year for the German. After his podium in the opener, it slipped away from him and Williams. Contracted for 2009, but needs to improve.
Sebastian Bourdais: Has often shown good talent, but outclassed by Vettel in a uncompetitive car. A second season improvement is needed.
Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella: Not a competitive car, true, but these two have tried their very best nonetheless. Sutil produced a great drive in Monaco, and was cruelly denied points, whilst Fisi showed he still has it with a gutsy drive in Brazil. Great talents, not-so-great car.
Those who should go
Nick Hiedfeld: The BMW's been a good car this year, but Hiedfeld has definitely dissapointed. Outclassed all year by Kubica, he sometimes found it difficult to make the top 10 shootouts in qualifying. BMW have always wanted to promote its youth, so I think its time they washed their hands over Hiedfeld and find another talent.
David Coulthard: He's definitely going anyway. There's nothing bad I can say about the guy. He was a great F1 stalwart and often put the Red Bull further up than it suggested. Thank you DC and I hope you enjoy your retirement.
Kazuki Nakajima: I'm not sure about Nakajima. I don't think he has the talent to cut it, YET. To be fair, the Williams has been uncompetitive, but Nakajima has been one of the forgotten men this year. Contracted for 2009, but his neck is on the line.
Rubens Barrichello: the most experienced Formula 1 driver ever, and I think its time to hang up the helmet. No disrespect Rubinho, but I think the old speed's gone. Yes, the Honda is uncompetitive, but often Rubens has been in the shadow of Button. As yet, unconfirmed for 2009.
There you have it. Who I think should stay, and maybe stay, and also to go.
But let's see what the grid is like at Melbourne 2009...you never know what can happen.
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