How do the new Alonso-Ferrari rumours affect the 2009 F1 driver market?

Fernando Alonso, Renault, Monte-Carlo, 2008, 470150

Fernando Alonso?s prospects of joining Ferrari in the near future appeared to have been killed off earlier this year when Luca di Montezemolo said in public that he did not want Alonso to partner Kimi Raikkonen in the future.

But the rumours re-surfaced over the Monaco Grand Prix weekend with sources claiming Alonso had signed for Ferrari for 2010. Alonso has already hinted he might leave Renault for Ferrari.

Should we believe the rumours? Will Raikkonen quit in 2009? And how might this change the 2009 driver line-up?

Why Alonso will join Ferrari in 2010

Alonso is a two-times champion and indisputably one of F1’s top three drivers. Renault are clearly not a top tier team at the moment – and it’s questionable whether Flavio Briatore’s focus lies squarely with them now that he’s discovered Queens’ Park Rangers football club.

Why Alonso won’t join Ferrari in 2010

Alonso never managed to reproduce at McLaren the kind of harmonic relationship he enjoys at Renault – so why jeopardise that a second time? Renault may not be in race-winning form right now but there have been clear signs of progress from the team already this year.

What if he has signed for 2010?

Luca di Montezemolo has said in the past that Ferrari would not have Alonso and Raikkonen as team mates. That would seem to indicate Raikkonen has indicated he does not wish to extend his contract beyond 2009.

It would also suggest that Felipe Massa’s contract until 2010 is safe, as Ferrari would surely not want to run the risk of changing both drivers. Massa has bounced back from a shaky start to the season with a career-best four consecutive podiums.

BMW are chasing Robert Kubica’s name on a new contract with sources suggesting the deal has already been done. Although Nick Heidfeld has struggled to match his team mate it would be a surprise to see the marketable German driver leave the team, particularly as neither of BMW’s test drivers (Marko Asmer and Christian Klien) look likely to be promoted in his place.

They are probably the only other team likely to be both interested in signing Alonso and capable of attracting him. So if he’s no longer on the market, then I would expect them to keep the same line-up.

Whatever happens with Ferrari Alonso will surely still be a Renault driver next year. But who will be his team mate? Nelson Piquet Jnr needs a revolution in form to justify his place in Formula 1. The impressive Swiss-French GP2 driver Romain Grosjean must be favourite to take his place, unless Renault continue their questionable strategy of placing graduate drivers with their test team for a year, which did little for Piquet or Heikki Kovalainen.

Test driver Lucas di Grassi’s indifferent form in GP2 last year has not marked him out as a future F1 driver. Their other test driver Sakon Yamamoto has impressed more people in F1 since he started DJing at parties. But a possible outside bet for the team could be Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais, if an accommodation could be made with Briatore, who Bourdais has fallen out with once before.

Bourdais’ team mate Sebastian Vettel is tipped to replace David Coulthard at Red Bull, Coulthard finally heading into retirement and Toro Rosso heading into oblivion if a buyer is not found. If one is, look for iSport GP2 driver Bruno Senna in the hunt for a seat here.

McLaren, Honda and Williams will probably keep the same line-up. However Kazuki Nakajima has scored points in three of six races so far this year and Toyota may want to pinch their protege back from Williams.

The Grove team’s test driver Nico H???lkenbeg does not look ready for F1 yet, so perhaps Williams would get Timo Glock in return in a straight swap? As their engine suppliers Toyota have a fair amount of leverage in these discussions.

Adrian Sutil will need to repeat his Monaco form to justify his continued inclusion at Force India where owner Vijay Mallya may bring in Karun Chandhok, if he chooses to ignore the Indian’s dismal form in GP2 this year.

2009 F1 season

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33 comments on How do the new Alonso-Ferrari rumours affect the 2009 F1 driver market?

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  1. frecon said on 27th May 2008, 8:32

    Don’t forget last autumn, Red Bull’s owner, said they couldn’t sign Alonso because the driver had agreements with others teams, and he only looked for a short contract.

    I think there is nothing already signed, and he only have a verbal agreement, which in F1 is nothing.

    Anyway, I’d like to watch Alonso driving a BMW.

  2. Jonesracing82 said on 27th May 2008, 8:45

    be good to see how Kubica does v Alonso!
    Bruno Senna would b good as well, hope he maintaines his GP2 form from this year so far!

  3. Jonesracing82 said on 27th May 2008, 8:46

    having said that, i dont see them getting rid of Heidfeld yet

  4. To be fair, Alonso hasn’t been on top form this year, but we all know what he’s capable of. However, I think BMW would fear a clash between him and Kubica, as both are capable of leading the team. Theissen would probably not want to risk losing Kubica for Alonso.
    Judging from what I’ve seen of the F3 Euroseries, Hulkenburg may well be a better bet for Williams than Glock in the long-term, and I also think that Mika Maki, a Red Bull-backed F3 driver, would warrant a test-driver role next year, even if he would need a year in GP2 before graduating to the F1 grid.

  5. DG said on 27th May 2008, 9:51

    I still think that Alonso is kicking his heels at Renault, back with Flavio and people who respect him until the time comes for Kimi to leave Ferrari. I think Kimi will either go to DTM or NASCAR for a bit more excitement, since he really isn’t getting that much support from Ferrari this year.
    Massa is getting lots of support, as he did last year, even though he is not the better driver – so much support that Schuey is always trackside for him.
    Considering how much Ferrari and Renault work together running the F1/GP2 package – Ferrari has connections with at least one of the GP2 teams and supplies engines to 3 F1 teams, and Flavio part owns GP2 with Bernie, and still manages lots of drivers – a deal between them about Alonso’s future is nearly a forgone conclusion.
    Alonso couldn’t go directly from McLaren to Ferrari, since Jean Todt called him all the names under the sun, but this way he ends up there.
    I do agree however, that Renault are making progress, and may be Championship material by 2010, while any spats between Alonso and Massa over the No 1 spot at Ferrari are liable to throw their plans off course. We know Alonso doesn’t like to be cheated, and by 2010 Massa will be expecting to be Top Dog (he does this year already, which is why Kimi takes every opportunity to out qualify him!).

  6. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th May 2008, 10:04

    DG – “Back with Flavio and people who respect him” – whatever you think happened at McLaren last year, I don’t think respect was an issue. The mechanics flocked to Alonso’s side of the garage at the end of 2006 – they all wanted to work on the champion’s car. Those guys are the heart and soul of the team and I don’t think you can ask for a stronger vote of confidence from them than that.

    All the same, would he really risk making the mistake of leaving Renault twice? Alonso does not thrive on celebrity and I think he would get a lot of unwanted attention at Ferrari.

  7. ninguen said on 27th May 2008, 10:49

    I think Alonso is betting for BMW, it was said last year that as Heidfeld got a contract for this year nothing could be done (as heidfeld was consistently beating kubica) but this year seems different. Alonso has said that he wants a winning car next year wether it is renault or anyone else, if he sees that renault is no able to do the jump next year he will try his best to go for a top team, and BMW may have a seat for someone like he.
    That could mess up the things next year, Renault would have to search for a number one, or maybe could fall into oblivion, as Briatore said he would only be in the team while Alonso is, so he could leave also, i´ve heard that David richards is willing to buy a team like renault.
    For the rest, yoy wouldn´t forget Sato and davidson, their name were on air when piquet seat is talked, they could get a chance. And i don´t think Williams would be interested in glock at all, this season has proved nothing, so if toyota leave him, i´m afraid he would be in the cold

  8. Dave Richards used to run Renault breifly remember…

  9. Jean said on 27th May 2008, 11:56

    Alonso battling it out in a Ferrari against Hamilton in the future , even if just for the sake of “settling old scores” , sounds like a very tantalising prospect to me. Thing is , it will all depend on what Massa can do this year . I guess if he can win the world championship , then he will be regarded even more highly by Ferrari , as they will see he has the confidence to do it again in 2009 , and will only want to replace Kimi in 2010 with a “number 2″ to Massa – ie. not Alonso. But if Massa does not win , maybe 2010 will be Alonso’s year for Ferrari.

  10. Samuel said on 27th May 2008, 12:10

    I wonder who spreads all these rumours. Clearly, they don’t benefit Fernando’s nor Renault’s interests. Conspiranoic as I am, I think someone who doesn’t want him to go to Ferrari is forcing the Scuderia to publically deny their interest on Fernando, before knowing the outcome of this season.

    My bet is that Ferrari is just worried about Kimi’s performance, and if he doesn’t win this season Fernando has a chance of joining them. But nothing has been signed up by now.

  11. ninguen said on 27th May 2008, 12:48

    Well, if i´m correct, the last rumour came from grandprix.com a page that is known to be very close with maclaren, may i´m wrong, sure keith will know best, but if it is real it would be quite revealing

  12. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th May 2008, 12:50

    Ninguen – yep, that’s what I heard :-)

  13. Keith – what you say must only be true up to the point where Alonso started accusing McLaren of backing Hamilton more than him (whether that was true or not).
    As for where the rumours come from, remember that during ‘Stepneygate’ Jean Todt accused Alonso of all sorts of things, but later in the season, the head of Ferrari said that Alonso was a wonderful driver!
    I took that as a very pointed message at the time….

  14. Fernando said on 27th May 2008, 14:57

    I hate Alonso I think he’s way too arrogant and I really don’t think he would be a good fit at the Scuderia. I am a big Massa fan (yes we exist), and I think Alonso at Ferrari would jeopardize the team, since he is not a team player unlike Massa. Let him go to whatever team will have their heads so far up his ass, like Renault does. I understand he’s a good track driver and great technical driver. But his personality is crap and his sportsmanship is also flaky.

  15. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th May 2008, 15:01

    You’re certainly not the only Massa fan – I’m sure Number 38 will be along in a bit to give me chapter on verse on why I under-rate him…

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