The annual game of ‘who goes where’ for next year is on hiatus until the truth about Michael Schumacher’s future is known – and that is not expected to come until September. F1Fanatic has it’s own view on what Schumacher will do, but team principles up and down the pit lane are wisely biding their time until rumour becomes reality.
Whatever Schumacher chooses to do, many questions will have to be resolved about who will move, who will arrive, and who will leave. These can be summarised as follows:
- Kimi Raikkonen. McLaren badly want him to stay to form a super-duo with Fernando Alonso. But he has surely had enough of being let down – especially by Mercedes – and is being courted by Ferrari (in case Schumacher does leave) and Renault (with no top-line driver signed up).
- Giancarlo Fisichella. Even Alonso’s departure does not guarantee him a seat for next year with Raikkonen hunting for a ride, Heikki Kovalainen waiting in the wings, and Mark Webber a possibility.
- Juan Pablo Montoya. Rumour has it he’s on his way out of McLaren even if Raikkonen goes too – and Ron Dennis will pair Alonso with GP2 star Lewis Hamilton. Red Bull looks a likely home for the extroverted Columbian.
- Mark Webber. After two dismal years at Williams will manager Flavio Briatore give Webber a shot at the big time in place of an underperforming Fisichella?
- Lewis Hamilton. Five GP2 wins from 11 races, he holds a commanding lead in the championship and has won the last three races. He’s well in with Ron Dennis and even if he doesn’t get a McLaren ride he could be ‘placed’ with a lesser team.
- Heikki Kovalainen. Runner-up to Nico Rosberg in GP2 last year, test driver with Renault ever since. Alonso’s departure is a gift to the talented Finn.
- Robert Kubica. The 2005 World Series by Renault champion has become a star of Friday testing and looks set to oust Villeneuve to become Nick Heidfeld’s number two.
- Alex Wurz. Rumour suggests that the Austrian left McLaren for Williams because the Grove team offered him a shot at a race seat for 2007.
- Jacques Villeneuve. BMW boss Mario Theissen had tried to prise Villeneuve out of the seat during the off-season, but failed. Although Villeneuve has driven well it’s hard to single out anything that will make BMW want to keep him over promising test driver Robert Kubica. Kovalainen, who Theissen wanted in for Villeneuve for ’06, is a possibility too.
- Jarno Trulli. Has no Toyota contract for 2007 – not that he’d necessarily want one after repeated mechanical failures this year. Outclassed Ralf Schumacher last year, no chance to shine so far in ’06, it’s hard to see where he goes from here.
- Christian Klien. Red Bull bos Dietrich Mateschitz has openly said only the quicker of Klien and David Coulthard will be kept for next year. Bahrain aside, Coulthard has comfortably had the upper hand.