And if, as is widely expected, he does leave for McLaren, the shockwaves will be felt up and down the pit lane.
Indeed several drivers may already have started the last races of their careers. Here are the big names that could be set for the chop…
Grand Prix starts: 180
Ralf Schumacher could be about to follow brother Michael out of the sport just one year after the senior (and slightly more successful…) Schumacher bade farewell.
Schumacher will not be racing for Toyota next year and is famously unpopular with a lot of the F1 press, particularly the British contingent. He is likely to be replaced by GP2 champion Timo Glock, but rumours have connected Alonso with the team.
Despite recently extending his Ferrari contract Felipe Massa is also considered a candidate, if not for 2008 then possibly 2009. Why? Because it is believed the Luca Montezemolo wants a Raikkonen-Alonso line-up at Ferrari – note how effusive the Italian has been in his praise of Raikkonen and Alonso (and, most conspicuously, not Hamilton).
The split between Montezemolo and Todt could lead to the Frenchman, Massa and manager Nicolas Todt (Jean’s son) heading off to Toyota. It would fit with Toyota’s desire to increase market share in South America which was partly why they brought Massa’s compatriot Cristiano da Matta to F1 in 2003.
Schumacher, meanwhile, has been linked to Spyker (nee Force India), which in turn would spell sayonara for Sakon Yamamoto.
Grand Prix starts: 194
A return to Renault would be logical for Alonso, but only if he believes the team will be competitive. In that case, he might rather partner Fisichella than replace him, as the Italian would not be as fraction as hard to contain as Lewis Hamilton has been.
But Briatore would surely not want to drop Heikki Kovalainen, who has worked with Alonso in the past and beaten Fisichella this year. Indeed, keeping Fisichella under any circumstances when he’s been beaten by three team mates in a row would surely be cause to call Briatore’s judgement into question.
Barrichello has a contract for 2008 but rumours suggest Honda might give him the heave-ho. Barrichello failed to score all year while Button somehow got three points finishes out of the beastly RA107.
Alonso would surely not join the team in its current state, but if his movement left someone like Kovalainen or Nico Rosberg without a seat then Honda might well pounce.
Having said all that, the team’s biggest weakness is clearly on the technical side, and focussing on that rather than fiddling with the driver line-up would be more sensible.
Grand Prix starts: 39
On the F1 scrap heap at 27? It would be harsh but it may well happen as he won’t be at Toro Rosso next year.
Liuzzi hasn’t distinguished himself in two and a bit years of F1 but he’s usually been ahead of Scott Speed and Sebastian Vettel (except on that one occasion when it really mattered).
He seems to have his sights set on a Williams seat which seems wise. The team have already lost Alexander Wurz for next year and McLaren may pay megabucks to snatch Rosberg if Alonso moves elsewhere.
Photo: Charles Coates / LAT Photographic | HondaRacingF1.com
- 2008 drivers & teams
- Alonso and Prodrive central to 2008 driver market
- F1 Racing vs Ralf Shumacher
- Debate: Should Ralf Schumacher retire?
- Toyota drop Ralf Schumacher
- Debate: Rubens Barrichello
- Fisichella no faster in 2008
- Debate: End of the line for Fisichella?
- Bourdais replaces Liuzzi for 2008