With no word still on Michael Schumacher’s destination for 2007 paddock speculation is rife. The latest rumour emblazoned across the front of this month’s F1 Racing has Schuey in a BMW in 2008 in a deal worth $1bn to the German superstar.
Let’s take a look at how the grid may line up next year:
Giancarlo Fisichella is confirmed.
Kimi Raikkonen is their target, Heikki Kovalainen has an outside chance and Fernando Alonso may ‘do a Button’ on his McLaren contract and stay put. If none of these come to fruition Mark Webber has an outside chance, being managed by Renault chief Flavio Briatore.
Fernando Alonso is confirmed but not keen – he may bail if he can.
Pedro de la Rosa holds the ousted Juan Pablo Montoya’s seat for now, but can he hang on to it? He’s under pressure fromtest driver Gary Paffett and GP2 star Lewis Hamilton. McLaren would rather keep a hold of Kimi Raikkonen, though.
Michael Schumacher can have the seat if he wants it. Whether he does or not is a matter of conjecture – my money is on him staying.
If Schumacher doesn’t stay then Kimi Raikkonen is rumoured to have an offer which he will surely take. But the idea that they could partner each other is surlely a pipe dream. Expect Felipe Massa to keep his dutiful number two lap dog role either way.
Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello are both staying according to their contracts. You couldn’t blame either for jumping ship but Barrichello is new to the team and there are no obvious offers elsewhere, and a third contractual cock-up for Button could seriously damage his reputation.
Jarno Trulli is confirmed.
Ralf Schumacher’s contract is confirmed till the end of 2007. But he has recently appointed a new manager in Hans Mahr having split with Willi Weber last year, and some suggest he is looking for an escape from his megabucks Toyota contract. It would be a surprisingly move, because he is widely believed to be over-valued on the market.
Mark Webber will stay according to manager Flavio Briatore – but he has a slim chance of making it to Renault.
Nico Rosberg is in year one of a two-year deal, but although he has denied it cash-strapped Frank Williams could sell him at the right price.
Nick Heidfeld is Beemer’s blue-eyed boy and will stay.
Jacques Villeneuve may be fighting a losing battle trying to keep Polish hot shot Robert Kubica out of his seat.
But what about those lurid Michael Schumacher rumours?
David Coulthard is signed up.
Christian Klien is widely expected to be dropped and Vitantonio Liuzzi promoted in his favour. But a big name signing is not out of the question. Villeneuve would be a good fit and they have the money to sign Schumacher if they want him badly enough.
Scott Speed will probably stay and Liuzzi leave for Red Bull.
Neel Jani and Michael Ammermuller are supported by Red Bull and are the prime candidates for promotion to the top flight.
If the team is bought out by Dutchman Michael Mol’s Lost Boys concern then Christijan Albers is likely to stay and be joined by Robert Doornbos. Otherwise, who knows?
Takuma Sato will surely stay – he is the reason they were created, after all.
A Japanese number two is highly likely – it remains to be seen how Sakon Yamomoto will fare.