Now that is interesting it seems like Toto and Mercedes seem to be influencing a lot of drives through their association except Mclaren
I think Bottas needs to be at Williams another year before they are sure he is the real deal or do you think Susie will make sure Toto has more bedroom pleasures with her to make sure she is going to be at the front of the queue
I'd be a bit concerned if I was either Maldonado or Di Resta who are probably looking for drives outside their team now
While the press did their best to fuel the F1 PR fires over the long hot summer I think deep down we all knew that the driver market this year would be little more than a shuffling around of the pay to play guys while the big boys play the wait and see if I get a camel or a cracker in 2014.
Caledo is def an option but my logic says if they wouldn't take Bianchi over Sutil last year when Bianchi had far more F1 experience and a better junior career then why would they take Caledo over him this year?
It doesn't really look like this years GP2 champ will get a drive either especially if its Colleti. If Nasr wins or Bird sneeks it I believe they might be able to swing a drive somewhere.
I think Williams are pretty set with Maldo and Bottas and the only way I can see that changing is if Toto pushes for Bottas to take a step up (he manages him) so he could end up at FI I guess in which case, if Merc has the influence, Merc project Sam Bird could be in with a shout.
I'd love to see Nasr in F1 as I think he's a very clever racer. Hopeful his Brazilian backing might be a way in.
The situation at Williams is strictly financial at the moment. You can't help but think if someone stepped in and said I'll pay you X amount a year to drive for you, they'd snap their hand off.
As for Force India, Sutil has done nothing wrong this year but seems to be the one most likely to not be there next season. Di Resta is getting all the attention but from what I've read his attitude is variable at times.
To be honest with the way things are shaping up there are a lot of drivers (Di Resta, Bianchi etc) who would be better off sitting tight and holding out for something at the end of 14. That's where I think the biggest silly season in years is going to be.
People said the biggest silly season was going to be this year....and last year...and the year before.
The problem with all these 'youngest ever champions" is that it means we are very much stuck in the status quo. They are in the hot seats now and it is very difficult for anyone to break in. It'll take someone with exceptional talent.
I agree 2015 as mentioned could be a lot of coveted seats in top teams but DI Resta's situation is a bit like Webber back in 2004 because he thinks he's good enough to mix it at the front and he's frustrated by the lack of opportunities
Force India - it was suggested Mercedes had a hand in getting Sutil back in the car and not go for Bianchi so whether this is engine related or not
Williams - I should Mercedes through Toto would be happy to lend at least 1 of their young drivers drive for them but they have Bottas already who is managed by Toto
Nasr being BRazilian and there have been quite a few at WIlliams might be an outsiders bet pending on Maldonado's sponsorship
The real shock I am looking for is if neither Lotus or Ferrari offer Kimi the money he wants and whether this will drive him out of F1 again . If I was Kimi I would leave Lotus unless he gets total assurance about their competitiveness if he was offered a Ferrari drive or a Mclaren drive because he is got better chance at some continuity going forward with either team who will have factory turbo engines ( Mclaren he will have to wait for 2015 if he fancies it)
Ferrari: It's really about time they drop Massa, with 2008 being a distant shadow. I think they should bring in Hulkenberg but if Massa stays I won't be surprised. For some reason I also think Di Resta might be a better fit for them, but considering what happened when they were team mates Hulkenberg could rightly feel pretty pissed off if Di Resta got the seat ahead of him. Alonso won't be going anywhere.
Mercedes: Hamilton and Rosberg. Rosberg may be out of contract this year but there's plenty of reasons for Mercedes to keep him and I can't really think of any reason they'd let him go. I also doubt there's a team Rosberg would rather be at, unless he thinks he has a much better chance of beating Alonso...
Lotus: Raikkonen could be an outside bet for a seat at Ferrari or McLaren but I think the chances are he will stay put now Red Bull have shut the door. I think Grosjean will stay as well, unless he gets himself in to another string of accidents and another race ban in the second half of the season.
McLaren: Button has been quietly linked to Ferrari a couple of times but unless he's pushed out I don't see him leaving McLaren. Unless Perez is a complete disaster in the second half of the season it's too early for McLaren to consider letting him go, not to mention that financial benefits, so he'll stay as well.
Force India: Have the reputation of bringing talented young drivers in but they decided against Bianchi for this season and ultimately I think they'll decide against a young driver again next season and stick with Di Resta and Sutil. Calado might get a decent number of Friday sessions. Having said that, I wouldn't feel completely secure if I was either Di Resta or Sutil. In the unlikely event Di Resta does get the Ferrari seat they'll bring in a young driver like Calado... or possibly Bianchi if Hulkenberg stays at Sauber.
Sauber: Russian money means Sauber are doing everything they can to give Sirotkin a drive (they announced testing for him in an old car yesterday). If Gutierrez stays as well that would arguably make one of the weakest driver line ups in F1 history so I think he'll be let go. Bringing in Bianchi would give them some talent along with some discounted Ferrari engines so he could be a good bet. This means that if Ferrari don't opt for Hulkenberg he could end up without a race seat again.
Toro Rosso: Vergne + young Red Bull driver (da Costa?).
Williams: Maldonado and Bottas will probably both keep their seats I think. GP2 driver (e.g. Sam Bird) an outside bet if Bottas continues to beat Maldonado.
Caterham/Marussia: Might as well draw names of pay drivers out of a hat.
looks like Benson agreed with my views about Kimi's limited options.. clearly money and performance assurances at Lotus are a sticking point BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:
"If he does not get the Ferrari seat, Kimi Raikkonen's only realistic option is to stay at Lotus - or quit. He and Lotus have made it clear that he wants them to prove to him that they can continue to be a force next season, despite the uncertainty that has been created by the departure of technical director James Allison to Ferrari and the delay in paying him some of his earnings. He did not sound like that was going especially well. 'They know the reasons why there is no going forward right now, and until they sort out those issues we cannot talk about next year,' he said. 'It is as simple as that. They know exactly the reasons.' Many will read that as: 'Pay up or I'm off.'"
My concern with Kimi is we may see 2008-09 version where he appears disinterested at times. Really Lotus need to get rid of Genii and Lopez and find owners who will bring genuine investment to that team
Lotus would probably be good for any driver who wants to establish themselves as a front runner by getting closer to the front but not quite good enough for the very best drivers
Rosberg is staying put due to his 2 wins and he is usually has a water tight contract when it comes to driver's contracts for anyone to buy him out
If Kimi quits over money again I will be dissapointed.
Back on James Caledo. It occurs to me that having Nicholas Todt as manager may be handy coming to a seat next year. If FI don't go for him then he could be pushed down the Ferrari line with either Sauber or Marussia like Bianchi. in fact if Bianchi moves to Sauber he could very well just take his seat at Marussia.
Kimi is on peanuts at Lotus and obviously given his status as a top racer and world champion he knows he could command more outside Lotus. So the only thing Lotus can offer him to stay is if they can promise a top car
So if the Ferrari drive does not come off he will probably go through the same experience as this year where he starts as a contender but does not quite have the car underneath to sustain a challenge
James Allinson leaving Lotus has had an impact on the team's performance
a long shot is try to get into Mclaren but then he will have to accept 2014 is a transition before Honda are on board
Like I said I think Genii capital are the problem .. the team need someone who is willing to invest in the team long term
Lotus have been a bit of a disappointment, they just seem to be all talk.
They've not got a major sponsor since 2011, they confirmed the Inifinty Racing deal before it was even finalised, add to that, it's been two months now and it's still not been finalised, then they let out the rumour about Honeywell becoming their major sponsor in the winter.
The teams struggling, James Allison leaving the team months before he even had a contract with a team speaks volumes, they are in trouble...
Also, think Hulkenbergs came into Formula One at the wrong time, the only young driver that's shown a lot of promise, yet won't seem to get a top seat if he doesn't get the Ferrari seat next year.
I've been banging about this because there are just far too many incidences where Lotus(nee Renault) have been linked with money matters since 2009 debacle and Bouillier asked Bernie for the money for 2010 constructors position even though the season has not finished
Lopez tried to not make a big of thing of shareholder loan on filed company accounts recently to companies house totalling £120m which some say as debt
Too many engineers have left the team including Bob Bell who is actually doing well at Mercedes now and engineers and drivers getting payment delays in wages.. that is not a good sign if they cant afford the payroll
Lopez says Kimi should choose performance over money
The engine deal is not sorted out yet either although they are trying to somehow convince they will get equal Renault support despite Red Bull being de facto NO 1 team
Not saying they will go bust but they can't sustain a championship challenge and it looks like its happened again this year so I don't think Kimi wants to put through that again
It seems like the team is going backwards now and the change in tyre swapping has really hurt them
Nico Hulkenberg has probably put himself on top of everyone's shopping list for those seats that are unconfirmed but surely he deserves a top drive now . - Mclaren missed out on him I wonder how many insiders will look a bit embarrassed by that decision now