Eddie Jordan’s comments suggesting that Lewis Hamilton could be leaving McLaren for Mercedes has set off a massive chain reaction of guess-work, speculation and a some times, down right silliness. It’s almost impossible to keep track of them, but we have! And here they are, each driver who could be moving, to where and if they are likely to.
Firstly, Lewis Hamilton. There has been speculation regarding Hamilton’s career at McLaren since the early stages of this season. First of all, He was linked to a possible seat with Red Bull should Mark Webber leave the team after 2012, following on from a terrible season for the Australian in 2011 amounting in just one victory which came, supposedly, as a result of his team-mates misfortune with a gearbox problem in the last Grand Prix of the season. But the door to a seat at Red Bull for Lewis, which was not a popular idea with the fans, was slammed shut after Webber won his 2nd Grand Prix of the season at Silverstone. Attention then turned to Felipe Massa’s seat at Ferrari. Now, I’m a fan of Massa but quite how he has kept his seat at Ferrari, despite not scoring a single win since 2008 baffles me. People enjoyed a few weeks of light speculation on Hamilton and Alonso being reunited as team-mates again, after it didn’t work the first time, but again, this option went out the window when Ferrari denied talking to Hamilton, Hamilton said he didn’t want a seat at Maranello, Fernando refused to comment on having Lewis as a team-mate and pundits admitted it was not likely. And so now its on to Mercedes. Michael Schumacher has been enduring a worse time than Felipe Massa, with only one podium since he made his return in 2010. This season in particular has been horrific for the German who is being plagued with bad luck. Naturally, People’s mind wandered when Jordan suggested a place at Mercedes for Lewis and now it appears ever more likely that he could take up the offer, hence giving Schumacher the boot. Tensions are high at McLaren after Lewis posted a ‘tweet’ on Twitter, complaining about his team-mate being given an advantage over him. He then published a picture of Jenson’s telemetry on Twitter, which gave away secrets about Jenson’s car. Could this be Hamilton’s final salute to the team that gave him his break?
And who would replace him should he leave the British team?
Paul Di Resta could certainly be a possibility if McLaren wanted to keep the whole British theme at the team. He certainly seems to have the potential, even though he has been somewhat overshadowed by his team-mate this season. Yet, Putting him in a McLaren could only be a recipe for a good driver and would still keep the British aspect.
If McLaren opted not to take the Scott, Heikki Kovalainen could be about to make a reappearance from the dark depths of the back markers from which few return. His name has been mentioned a lot over the last couple of days as a replacement for Hamilton and he too would be a popular choice as he is still one of the most popular drivers in the paddock. And it seems obvious that Kovalainen has something to show with a fantastic display by the Finn recently, making it out of Q1 several times and holding Jenson Button, potential new team-mate, off at the Monaco GP this year. He didn’t have a disastrous time with the team in 2008 and 2009 but he did only win one Grand Prix, something he would need to really improve on if he was to re-join the team.
And yet another option could be the promising young Mexican currently sitting in a Sauber who has surprised the entire paddock this year with some fantastic drives, particularly in Malaysia and Monza, both times finishing 2nd. But, Sergio Perez has been linked with Ferrari more than McLaren and it looks like Ferrari would be prepared to fight for the Mexican if needs be, but I don’t think they would need to as the McLaren crew aren’t making much noise over him.
So, Lets say Hamilton did move to Mercedes. Presumably, Brawn would be forced to make a sacrifice and give Michael Schumacher the boot for good. Although, if you look around, you will see that Schumacher still has a massive fan base, including myself, and they would throw up a storm if Michael was to leave the sport. Again. And again, over Twitter, the question was raised as to whether or not Schumacher would be a suitable replacement for Felipe Massa, should Ferrari give him the sack. Ferrari have said that they would be interested in having Perez at the team, but have insisted that they would not take him yet, giving him at least another season to develop as a driver. This could put Schumacher in the perfect position to step in and complete on season with the Prancing Horse before saying his goodbye’s and bowing out of the sport, to facilitate Perez going to Ferrari.
Another name mentioned in the Ferrari option is Paul Di Resta, although, Like Perez and McLaren, Di Resta would be more suited at McLaren than Ferrari. Heikki Kovalainen has been linked to Ferrari by fans, but I think if the Finn were to make it back to the front, he would much rather a move to McLaren where he could push and show he is worthy of a seat, instead of being sidelined for Alonso, the golden boy at Ferrari.
And yes, Sergio Perez (Seeing a pattern?) seems to be quite a popular choice at Maranello and I personally think he would be well served at the team. I think Ferrari would let him of the lease for a while and watch how he compares to Alonso, arguably the best driver on the grid at the moment. But, as I have already mentioned, Ferrari have said they want to let Perez develop as a driver and so I don’t think we could see a contract offer before 2014.
Kimi Raikkonen has been mentioned in relation to the team, but given his stormy history with them, I couldn’t imagine that one working out.
Or they just could keep Massa…
Behind Ferrari is the revised Lotus team. Replacing Heidfeld/Senna and Petrov was probably the best decision they have made in recent times, lets forget Singapore 2008, and they brought in Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, both making returns to the sport. There’s no question that Lotus want to keep Kimi and I dont think there is anywhere for the Finn to go just yet, but Grosjean on the other hand is not as safe at Lotus. He had, to put it nicely, a dreadful time in 2009 when he first raced in F1 but after a 2-year sabbatical to race in GP2, He is a much improved driver. Yet, he was unlucky at the start at the season and just when things were brightening up for him, he got a one race ban for causing a serious collision in Belgium. Lotus, as you can guess, were not pleased. Just if he can keep his seat depends on the rest of his season. If not, Jerome d’Ambrosio could be set to step up to full-time racing again, after he replace the banned Grosjean at Monza.
As for the two boys at Toro Rosso, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, They should be afraid. Very afraid. Toro Rosso gave Buemi and Alguersuari the boot last season to try and improve, but Ricciardo and Vergne have fared no better, if not way worse in their season so far. Vergne is regularly the driver joining the ‘Back six’, being eliminated in Q1, and this has not impressed the bosses. Similarly, Ricciardo has just not had the pace he was expected to have, and although he had a good race at Belgium, it could be to little, to late.
Calling to Williams now, Pastor Maldonado would be under threat of loosing his seat, especially with all the highly dangerous maneuvers, such as Monaco 2012 when he drove into Perez on purpose, except that the Venezuelan government give Williams a nice fat check to keep their guy racing. Senna however, despite the name, is under big threat from Valterri Bottas, the Finnish reserve driver at the team. Public support has been rising for Bottas recently and Maldonado could have his third new team-mate in three years at Williams.
At Force India, If Paul Di Resta left, They could be calling upon Jules Bianchi, their reserve driver to step up, but he being loaned by Ferrari to Force India and so could be expensive. Nico Hulkenberg is doing a good job and doesn’t appear to be moving anywhere, at least not soon.
And so, that’s the situation at the moment, But I have to remind you, most of these drivers moving depends on whether or not Hamilton and Schumacher leave. So sit back, relax and get ready for some crazy weeks on the driver’s market. It’s just one more part of “The Silly Season”.