2010 F1 drivers – who goes where?

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Robert Kubica looks likely to leave BMW and could replace Luca Badoer
Robert Kubica looks likely to leave BMW and could replace Luca Badoer

The F1 driver market for 2010 is a much more unpredictable one than we’ve had recently – or maybe it just seems that way because so many drivers stayed in the same teams this year as last.

There are big names looking for new berths – Robert Kubica and Kimi Raikkonen – and top teams with vacancies to fill. Let’s take a look at who could end up where.

Ferrari

When Ferrari is on the hunt for a driver, the other F1 teams wait for Maranello to make their move.

Kimi Raikkonen fans must be rather sick of the long-running rumours that Ferrari, unhappy with his performace, are seeking to replace him with Fernando Alonso. However Raikkonen’s recent upswing in form, culminating in his Spa victory last weekend, could give Ferrari a reason to keep him.

Felipe Massa will not return to the F1 grid before 2010. In the meantime, Ferrari’s thoughts are occupied by finding a third substitute for him.

Michael Schumacher’s neck injury rules him out of competition for the rest of the year if not longer. Giancarlo Fisichella would surely jump at the opportunity, if Force India are happy to release him.

Robert Kubica could be another option. While Fernando Alonso cannot get out of his Renault contract to drive for Ferrari this year, with BMW set to quit F1 Kubica could be able to make the move.

If not, then who? Marc Gene? Sebastien Bourdais? Vitantonio Liuzzi? Christian Klien? They’re not short of options, but the problem for Ferrari is finding someone who has recent experience and won’t be off to another team next year with a hatful of the Scuderia’s secrets.

McLaren

Ron Dennis-era McLaren were always pretty easy to read when it came to the driver market: they would grab the two best drivers available to them, even if they already had a ‘superstar’ on their books.

This is, after all, the team that paired Alain Prost with Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna with Alain Prost, Juan Pablo Montoya with Kimi Raikkonen, and Lewis Hamilton with Fernando Alonso.

Heikki Kovalainen received a very public hurry-up from Martin Whitmarsh earlier this month, suggesting Whitmarsh’s policy of hiring drivers is likely to be little different to his predecessor’s.

One driver who has been consistently linked to McLaren is Nico Rosberg. They are believed to have approached him to replace Fernando Alonso at the end of 2007, but Williams blocked the move.

Williams

Test driver Nico H???lkenberg is poised to wrap up the GP2 title in his rookie season. The last driver to match that feat was Lewis Hamilton.

With Schumacher’s career guru Wili Weber arranging his affairs, and several of Schumacher’s former personal sponsors adorning his overalls, it seems highly likely H???klenberg will be in F1 next year. Williams looks like an ideal berth, particularly if Rosberg does move to McLaren.

With Williams likely to drop Toyota engines, it’s hard to see Kazuki Nakajima remaining at the team, or ending up anywhere else.

Williams, then, could end up with an all-new driver line-up in 2010, and would surely want an experienced driver to pair with rookie H???lkenberg. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of them either on the market or likely to be, including Kovalainen, Trulli, Kubica, and former Williams pilot Nick Heidfeld.

Toyota

The future of Toyota’s F1 team is the subject of much debate. Its parent company have suffered huge losses in the economic crisis and will not decide on the F1 budget until November.

What the team needs is wins, and the failure to translate their strong qualifying at Melbourne (before their penalty), Bahrain and Spa into a breakthrough victory will be weighing heavily on their minds.

The team has already hinted it will not keep Jarno Trulli on for a sixth full season. But with no word on their future for another three months, their chances of attracting a top-line driver are remote.

BMW / Sauber

The decision by the board of BMW to quit F1 in 2010 is not likely to be swayed by the team’s improved performance at Spa.

Robert Kubica has already been tipped to join Renault next year – he tested for them after winning the 2005 World Series by Nissan (now Renault) but was picked up by BMW.

The team’s hopes of getting a top driver on board for next year hinge on it getting its entry confirmed by the FIA as soon as possible.

Renault

Robert Kubica, Renault, 2005
Robert Kubica tested for Renault before joining BMW

Like Toyota, Renault are another team whose immediate future in F1 has been called into question – and that was before the FIA began its investigation into alleged cheating by Renault at Singapore last year.

Its top driver is believed to be heading out the door, title sponsor ING is also departing and the parent company is suffering from the decline in car sales.

If they do remain it should guarantee a berth for Romain Grosjean, potentially alongside Kubica.

Red Bull

One of the few teams who changed their driver line-up this year, Red Bull are keeping the same pairing for 2010.

Sebastian Vettel has recently signed a contract extension until the end of 2011, with an option for 2012.

Following his maiden Grand Prix win at the Nurburgring, Mark Webber also gained a contract extension for 2010.

Toro Rosso

Having dumped Sebastien Bourdais for Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso now have one of the most junior line-ups ever seen in F1. Expect them to stick with their young charges in 2010.

Force India

If this dramatic leap forward by Force India lasts until the end of the year, they are in an excellent position to lure one of the drivers being cast aside by the big teams.

This depends on whether they choose to and succeed in keeping Fisichella. They have Vitantonio Liuzzi waiting in the wings to take his place.

Brawn

Ross Brawn has said he’s happy with his current drivers and indicated he wants to keep them on board for 2010.

Campos, USF1 and Manor

Of the new teams, USF1 have dropped the clearest hints about their ambitions which we looked at last month.

Their hope of finding a suitable young American driver to place alongside a European veteran may be stymied by the shortage of suitably experienced US talent. The likes of Jonathan Summerton and Alexander Rossi need more time in GP2 or similar before making the jump to F1. Sticking with a non-American pairing to start with and investing in a young driver scheme might be their best choice.

Similarly, Campos are believed to want a Spanish driver, and the experienced Pedro de la Rosa would fit the bill perfectly.

There may be three new teams, but there’s no shortage of drivers looking for seats. Former F1 drivers Alexander Wurz, Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Bourdais, Nelson Piquet Jnr and Takuma Sato could all be added to the list above, and past and present GP2 drivers Bruno Senna, Giorgio Pantano, Lucas di Grassi and Vitaly Petrov could all figure.

Who goes where?

Where do you think the drivers will end up next year? Have your say in the comments.

2010 F1 drivers

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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141 comments on “2010 F1 drivers – who goes where?”

  1. Max should resign now!!!
    2nd September 2009, 7:19

    No Trulli Train next year? I thought he would be the one in charge of keeping the whole pack close.

    1. PushTheButton
      2nd September 2009, 8:29

      Who needs the safety car to come out when you have Jarno Trulli!

  2. Heidfeld this year has been the better BMW driver but still he gets no credit, and its the highly rated Kubica that gets a mention for McLaren. Why?

    1. It is weird indeed. Heidfeld seems to be invisible sometimes. When he was a Sauber driver, he was up to be hired by Mclaren. And who got the gig? Raikkonen, his teamate, who he had comprehesily beaten that year…And now the same thing happens again – It must make him truly sick.

      1. possibly to do with nationality? most drivers on grid are german, so he dissapears that way,but kubica being a pole gets highlighted ? – dunno?

    2. Bigbadderboom
      2nd September 2009, 8:54

      Agreed, I think Kubica is a bit of a myth, he cannot get results when things are not perfect, and whinges constantly. Don’t get me wrong, when he is quick he does a good job, but it seems to be getting rarer.

      1. I would be very surprised if Heidfeld did not have a seat next year, as he is a good experienced driver who has shown with his run of finishes he brings the car home. I would say the most likely place for 2010 would be Williams or staying at whatever becomes of BMW Sauber.

        Heidfeld’s problem last year was qualifying, if it hadn’t been for that I think he would have been a lot closer to Kubica in the Championship.
        Regarding McLaren choosing Raikkonen over Heidfeld, I remember Ron Dennis saying later that driver decisions such as that were based more on how good the team thought the driver would be in the future rather than last seasons results.

    3. Heidfeld is not the better driver.
      Kubica outqualified him last year, and this year he’s leading Heidfeld 7-5.
      In the WDC, Nick has 10 points and Kubica 8, but it is Robert who has suffered more misfortune and bad luck than Nick.

      Kubica is a better investement because he’s improving constantly, whereas Heidfeld hasn’t been going anywhere for the last 10 years now. Robert has that winner’s quality that Heidfeld seems to not posses.

      1. No doubts on the fact that Kubica is stronger than Heidfeld. To be honest I have never been a supporter of Nick. I also think he is really overextimated in F1 and my opinion is that nxt year he will struggle to find a place on the grid.

    4. No, BMW drivers are evenly matched this year

      In qualy
      7:5 to Kubica

      In races they both finished /Robert didn’t finished 3 times, not his fault/
      5:4 to Kubica

      Overall
      10:8 to Heidfeld
      Both scored points in 3 races.
      Nick grabbed 4 points in the pretty much lottery gp in Malaysia.

      Neither of them has the edge this year, I think…

      1. “Neither of them has the edge this year, I think…”
        That’s not the point. The thing is that Robert is a better prospect for the future, and has a bigger potential as a driver than Nick.

        1. I was referring to slr post not yours..
          I agree with you.

  3. When Ferrari is on the hunt for a driver, the other F1 teams wait for Maranello to make their move.

    What a quote!!! WHAT-A-QUOTE!!!

    1. if i was fisi, i would tell ferrari to go stick it if they offered him a seat for monza.

      he should have the if i was not good enough for you then then im not good enough for you nowe attitude, expecially because he is an older driver, and the force india is faster (never thought id say that).

  4. Yesterday I made a list about it on my blog. This is my prediction. I didn’t count with “BMW-alternate” and Manor – there’s no news about them, and not sure that they will be on the grid in 2010 – in my opinion.
    If you want, make your predictions here, and at the start of next season I will reckon how many right answers we have.

    Brawn: Button, Barrichello
    Red Bull: Vettel,Webber
    Ferrari: Alonso, Raikkonen
    McLaren: Hamilton, Rosberg
    Toyota: Trulli, Glock
    Williams: Heidfeld, Hülkenberg
    Renault: Kubica, Grosjean
    Force India: Liuzzi, Sutil
    Toro Rosso: Buemi, Alguersuari
    USF1: Wurz, Summerton
    Campos: de la Rosa, Senna

    1. Do you assume no seat for Massa, anywhere?

      1. I think he can not rejoin to the field. Just imagine: his skull was broken a few weeks ago. Realistically I don’t expect him back amongst the G-forces… Unfortunately.

        1. They say bone gets stronger after it is broken, they call him a warrior

          1. nope, bones get weaker, having a metal plate inserted might make it stronger by virtue of Titanium but its no where near as light as bone.

    2. I believe Massa will be back at Ferrari, they will not drop him now. Being the competitor he is, he will be back no problem.

      Kimi will go to Brawn, thats my hunch. Alonso will replace him at Ferrari, no doubt. We have to keep in mind, sponsors have a lot of say in this matter. Santander will be Ferrari’s principal sponsor next year, and I’m pretty sure they have a clause somewhere in the contract with Alonso’s name on it.

      Kovi will get the boot from Maclaren and it could be Rosberg or Kubica, the former is my bet. As for Kubica himself, cant say really. If Sauber remains, then he might stay, or he might be at Williams, with Nick Heidfeld (?), that would be fun. But looks like Nico Hulkenberg may have his name on the seat alredy, one seat up for grabs. I dont expect Renault to be around next season, so Romain Grosjean will be out of a seat.

      No room for Fisi? If he doesn’t move to Ferrari next week, he will remain in Force India. If Sutil can’t put in a number of good performances before the season wraps, VJM may just as well replace him with Luizzi. Toyota will be gone, so Trulli and Glock will on the market as well. So, based on my prediction, the following drivers will be unattached:

      Trulli
      Glock
      Kubica
      Heidfeld
      Grosjean
      Kovalainen
      Barrichello

      One question though..who will race for Manor?

    3. Manor? and what about the team to replace BMW because the FIA is set to have a 13 team grid next year

  5. i would some how like to see Kimi in Mclaren again. Obviously he wouldn’t cry like some people where doing a couple of years ago.

    1. Kimi wouldn’t mind the least bit if Hamilton beats him…..just as long there’s enough vodka and ice cream.

      1. Lol! Well said that man. I love F1’s most apathetic competitor!

  6. I read somewhere that there are some outstanding dues unsettled between Ferrari and Force India at the end of the last season, due to which, Force India might be forced to let go of Fisichella.

    But then, I also read that Ferrari are generally not keen on Italian drivers, citing enormous pressure from the Italian press.

    But then, Badoer was picked. I am confused :D :D

    1. Easy to get confused if you believe everything you read ;-)

  7. Ferrari should really keep Kimi onboard.
    He and Massa make the strongest driver duo the sport has seen in years.

    Alonso can wait another year at Renault with Kubica keeping him company.

    Heidfeld deserves a good, top seat and if he doesn’t get it, it will be a shame.

    Rosberg at McLaren will really upset the Hamilton applecart. He has scored more points in a Williams this season than Hamilton has in a McLaren, despite Hamilton’s win.

    1. If Kimi stays at ferrari, alonso will look at ways to get him murdered!! I mean he’s so desperate to go to ferrari, he’ll do anything for it. Controversy & alonso are synonyms. look what he did at mclaren & now at renault. i’ll be extremely pleased if kimi comes back to mclaren, its where he truly belongs.

      1. EfF1ington Post
        6th September 2009, 4:47

        The antipathy Kimi had towards all things McLaren in the latter part of his tenure with the team leads me to believe that he will not consider attaching his name to a Woking contract again. Don’t be surprised if he walks away from F1 and contests the 2010 WRC instead.

    2. Indranil Dudhane
      2nd September 2009, 10:56

      I want Kimi to race either alongside Fernando at Ferrari or Lewis at McLaren. A lot of my friends think very high of Kimi and think he would convincingly beat his team mate. I disagree. He was supposed to thrash an “average driver” like Massa in ’07 and ’08 and couldn’t. Getting the better out of Fernando/Lewis would be like climbing a mountain with no beer!

      1. Even Alonso got slaughtered by Trulli in Renault in 03 & 04. He was again beaten by Hamilton in his rookie year.

        The only driver on this grid to have raced tougher team mates is raikkonen.

        Nick,DC,JPM,Massa weren’t push overs & he beat them all convincingly. Maybe with the exception of nick, but he had some eye-catching performances in 2001.

        I’m a mclaren fan & i believe kimi is better than hamilton.

        1. Nick,DC,JPM,Massa weren’t push overs & he beat them all convincingly. Maybe with the exception of nick,….

          Beat them all, other than Nick? What happened in 2008? I suppose he beat Massa “convincingly”?

          1. kimi had a lot of back luck in 2008, hamilton hitting him in pitlane, france the exhaust problem, fuji hamilton nose bombing him in turn 1, china having to pull over for massa, spa hamilton cheating, and generally the car suited to massa since he would spin out the first few races, so they needed to change it. Kimi ended up taking parts off and was faster than Massa.

          2. i’m with nick here, i’m a massa fan, massa had some bad luck a few times but he kept it consistent and drove it home. the engine blow didn’t help.

            however, kimi seemed to draw more bad luck his way than usual. his few non point finishes killed his championship.

            you have to agree though, he didn’t thrash massa in 2007 either, if massa didn’t pull over in 07 in brazil he wouldn’t have won the championship, kimi only had it by 1 point and massa 16 points behind.

            massa seems hungrier, more driven to become a better driver and win races, he’s improved leaps and bounds over the last few years.

        2. Nick,DC,JPM,Massa weren’t push overs & he beat them all convincingly. Maybe with the exception of nick,

          Wasn’t JPM out for couple of races due to injury and after his return his role was reduced to support Kimi’s quest for WDC in 2005? and 2006 McLaren didn’t really produce car worth mentioning and even Kimi was anonymously circulating around circuits waiting for Ferrari to make announcement of his contract

        3. Even Alonso got slaughtered by Trulli in Renault in 03 & 04. He was again beaten by Hamilton in his rookie year.

          http://www.f1-facts.com/statistics/team-mates/FAlonso

  8. I think more than one team are going to run 3 cars next year. Kimi Massa and Alonso at Ferrari has been talked about, but for sure at least McLaren would join them with 3 cars on grid

    1. The 3 car idea is the must ridiculous idea ever to have been tabled. Ferrari are pushing for the third car just to accommodate schumacher. Its high time ferrari forget about schumacher & start looking for some younger drivers. Giving schumacher a 3rd seat in one of their cars will not help ferrari in the long term. They should have groomed a young driver just like what mclaren did with lewis. Look whats happened now! They are at risk of losing 3rd spot in WCC. Schumacher is not the way forward. I hope ferrari get my point.

      1. I tend to agree. Although I suspect that any 3rd car may have to do more with the Massa-Räikkönen-Alonso trinity, than with Schumacher.

        However, 3-car teams are totally unnecessary, even if a Sauber-led buy-out of BMW won’t come to fruition, since there should be 3 new teams, and 1 more (Epsilon Euskadi?) waiting for confirmation.

        1. Epsilon Euskadi cars look cooler than the current F1 cars. take a look.

          http://www.rfactorcentral.com/screenshots/lge/13-Jul-09-rFactorCentral-1567_Picture1111.jpg

      2. Aren’t three car teams outlawed?

  9. Brawn-Mercedes
    1. Jenson Button
    2. Rubens Barrichello
    Red Bull-Mercedes
    3. Mark Webber
    4. Sebastian Vettel
    Ferrari
    5. Felipe Massa
    6. Fernando Alonso
    McLaren-Mercedes
    7. Lewis Hamilton
    8. Nico Rosberg
    Toyota
    9. Timo Glock
    10. Kamui Kobayashi
    Williams-Renault
    11. Heikki Kovalainen
    12. Nico Hülkenberg
    Renault
    14. Robert Kubica
    15. Romain Grosjean
    Force India-Mercedes
    16. Adrian Sutil
    17. Vitantonio Liuzzi
    Toro Rosso-Ferrari
    18. Sébastien Buemi
    19. Jaime Alguersuari
    Campos-Cosworth
    20. Pedro de la Rosa
    21. Vitaly Petrov
    Manor-Cosworth
    22. Anthony Davidson
    23. Lucas Di Grassi
    US F1-Cosworth
    24. Alex Wurz
    25. Ryan Hunter-Reay
    Sauber-Petronas (Ferrari)
    26. Nick Heidfeld
    27. Christian Klien

    1. What bout bruno?

      1. I had thought he would take Barrichello’s seat at Brawn, but with Rubens’ recent performance, I find it hard to believe that Brawn will drop him for 2010.

        Other options might be Manor or Sauber. And if the latter doesn’t make it onto the grid, perhaps Epsilon Euskadi will (with Renault engines). Then they’ll likely take De la Rosa, and perhaps they’d fancy Senna, too.

    2. No Fisi? I didn’t really rate him as a fired-up competitor until this season, and Spa of course was the icing on the cake. Given his performance this year, I’d definitely choose him over Wurz or Klien.

    3. very well thought.

      but it all fall apart if the alonso/ferrari deal doesn’t como true.

    4. No Kimi, No Fisi….doubtful

    5. On the new teams I would not be so sure. But your prediction seems to be quite reliable to me. Just a thing: Toyota will stick with Trulli I think.

    6. EfF1ington Post
      6th September 2009, 4:57

      I think you are right about the Williams line-up. Kovy will be a good fit at Grove. I hope you are wrong about Kobayashi driving for Toyota. Do you think there is a team mad enough to give Villeneuve a cockpit?
      Wurz is certainly a top test driver, but I hope Peter Windsor does not go out and hire him to race for USF1. Depending on his contractual obligations, I think Graham Rahal will be a good fit for their team. It is a shame America does not seem capable of producing F1 calibre racers.

  10. Really hoping for Raikkonen to return back to mclaren.

    1. Lewis and Kimi in the same team – that would be interesting. Who do you think would come up on top?

      1. Kimi of course. He’s the most talented driver since mansell.

        1. Mansell? There have been many new drivers more talented than Mansell.

        2. I can think of another that has 7 wdc’s since mansell

          1. but mp4 is British, so WDC’s aren’t as important as that….

  11. I’m really getting fed up with this Alonso and Ferrari story..just because Alonso has been crying for a seat there ever since he joined F1 doesn’t mean he’ll end up there..Kimi is ten times the driver and the man Alonso would ever dream of being

    1. .Kimi is ten times the driver and the man Alonso would ever dream of being

      Yeah, he is pretty snazzy in a pair of shorts.

      1. @Sush Meerkat

        I thought my Dad was the only person who used the word “snazzy” lol

    2. I absolutely agree with you sicali!! Alonso is a driver with no moral code of conduct. he’ll stoop to any level. Ferrari will land up in deep trouble if they hire this fella. I’m not criticizing his driving skill, i still believe he’s better than Nelson Piquet jr ;) But no where comparable to kimi. 2005 should have been the crowing moment for kimi, but for his reliability problems. people here must realize the fact that Alonso remains the only “WORLD CHAMPION” in history to get beaten fair & square by a rookie. :) :)

      now lewis bashers don’t get started on favoritism & stuff.

      kimi is way more talented than alonso.

      1. Alonso is a driver with no moral code of conduct. he’ll stoop to any level.

        *COUGH* Schumacher! *COUGH*

        Need I say more?

      2. Alonso is a driver with no moral code of conduct.

        That’s exactly the kind of driver that Ferrari like. Gels well with their team philosophy.

    3. It’s definitely becoming tiresome. But you can’t blame Alonso for being keen on a Ferrari drive — look at his last two seasons with Renault, and particularly the last few races. I bet he’s fuming and can’t wait to get out of there.

  12. Bigbadderboom
    2nd September 2009, 9:08

    Some points.
    I can’t see Rubens at Brawn next season, he is a handful and makes too many unpredictable comments (Blah,Blah,Blah).
    The best move Kubica could hope for is to Renault.
    I think Kovy and Rosberg will swap seats.
    Alonso will end up sharing with Kimi, I really hope Felipe “Baby” recovers but I can’t see him in an F1 car again.
    Hulkenberg will take Nakajimas seat. Hulkenberg does look