2009 F1 driver rumours

Rubens Barrichello, Honda, Istanbul, 2007, 470150

An interesting new rumour about the 2009 F1 driver line-up puts Fernando Alonso at Honda alongside Jenson Button next year.

Do you believe it? And what should we make of these other rumours about who goes where in 2009?

Fernando Alonso to Honda

Rumour rating:

Autosport have given over two pages to this surprising rumour in this week’s issue, suggesting Alonso might move teams again in 2009 to join Honda.

The partnership of two-times champion Alonso with the strategic and technical savvy of Ross Brawn is certainly an appealing one.

But I think this is a pretty doubtful rumour. Would Alonso really want a third new team in as many years? Would Brawn drop Barrichello who, despite his struggles earlier in the season, has scored in the last two races and is a useful known quantity in a team where technical upheavel is taking place in their quest to re-join the front runners? And it would make no sense if the claims Alonso has signed for Ferrari for 2010 are true.

Having said that, Honda seem to have put more weight behind their 2009 campaign sooner than any other team and were first to test the new KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System). If they have got something truly special up their sleeve and reckon they’ll be at least at Renault’s level next year, they might just pull off what would be a surprising coup.

David Coulthard out of Red Bull

Rumour rating:

It’s dangerous to try and write Coulthard’s career off because people were doing it four years ago and he keeps bouncing back. But even though he scored a podium in Montreal there are persuasive indicators that this might be his last year at Red Bull and possibly in F1.

Mark Webber has generally out-qualified and out-raced Coulthard so far this year, and Red Bull have a driver lined up to nab Coulthard’s seat…

Sebastian Vettel to Red Bull

Rumour rating:

Vettel has a calm head on young shoulders – much calmer than all those early-season incidents would suggest, as he was lagely blameless for them. He’s the only driver in either of their teams to come through their youth programme and his promotion alongisde Webber would be a useful vindication of the considerable effort Red Bull invests in bringing up new talent.

Romain Grosjean to Renault

Rumour rating:

Grosjean was favourite for the GP2 title this year and although he’s lagging behind Giorgio Pantano (remember him) and Bruno Senna at the moment, it has a lot to do with a large slice of bad luck at Monte-Carlo and a moment of madness at Barcelona.

He sampled the R28 for the first time yesterday and if he does win the GP2 title Renault may well choose to put him straight in the F1 team, because a year’s testing seemed to do little for GP2 graduates Heikki Kovalainen and Nelson Piquet Jnr.

Meet the rookies: Romain Grosjean

Bruno Senna to Toro Rosso

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Bruno Senna is linked to GP2 via team boss Gerhard Berger, who was his uncle Ayrton’s team mate from 1990-92. After Senna’s win at Monaco in GP2 Berger suggested he could be a Toro Rosso driver in the future:

I’ve told Bruno to go and win the championship. I think he has a good chance to be in the game, as he showed with his performance at a difficult place. There’s no reason why he can’t win the championship. He has a good car and he’s a good driver. Now he needs to get everything together, win the title and then take the next step.

I don’t think it’s a question of a test, it’s a question of how he can get to F1. He needs the right car, and we need to ask if he’s the right guy for us. I don’t want to start any speculation, but he has my full support.

The four drivers fighting for a 2009 F1 drive

Fernando Alonso to BMW

Rumour rating:

Alonso both deserves and needs a place in a top team, but with Robert Kubica in such excellent form do they need Alonso?

Coulthard / Vettel / Piquet merry-go-round

Rumour rating:

A rumour doing the rounds before Canada (posted here by Frecon) suggested an imminent three-way trade moving Coulthard to Renault in Nelson Piquet Jnr’s place, relegating Piquet to Toro Rosso and promoting Vettel to Coulthard’s old seat.

I could see it happening next year, perhaps with Piquet finding his way onto the sidelines rather than another F1 team, but I don’t think it’ll happen before the year is out.

Danica Patrick to Honda

Rumour rating:

Honda have flatly denied they are even going to give a test to Patrick, first woman to win an Indy Car race, despite a lot of people getting very excited about it.

Read more about Danica Patrick at Maximum Motorsport

What do you make of these rumours? Have you heard any others?

2009 F1 season

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18 comments on 2009 F1 driver rumours

  1. Felipe Leite said on 13th June 2008, 15:16

    I only disagree on the rating of Bruno Senna’s rumour. I believe it is almost as strong as Vettel going to Red Bull and Coulthard going out. I believe that Bruno will have a seat at Toro Rosso next year if he keeps fighting for the GP2 championship through August.

    By the way, Berger is the responsible for Bruno restarting his career in F-BMW after several years out of the sport, since the death of his uncle in Imola.

  2. One more that hasn’t reached rumour status yet: Patrick Head is reported to have said that Sebastien Bourdais deserves his F1 seat. Now why would Patrick bother with such a statement unless he was interested in Bourdais for the future?

    Kazuki Nakajima is popularly supposed to be on his way to Toyota next year so the Williams team will be looking at the market for a possible successor. And Bourdais could be an interesting team mate for Rosberg…

  3. George said on 13th June 2008, 15:32

    You have to remember that Autosport’s job is to sell magazines and that does make a good headline. I could be wrong, but I think, as rumours go, this one is pretty far fetched. Honda would be an amazing risk for Alonso – he’s just as likely, if not more likely, to get his hands on a winning 2009 chassis by staying at Renault. As for Fernando and BMW – I can see why he would be attractive to them, and I can see why they wouldn’t be interested. All of this is by the by if he really has signed a Ferrari contract for 2010…

    Grosjean and Senna’s chances of promotion to the top flight ultimately rest on their performances over the rest of the GP2 championship – I imagine a number of teams are watching them both very closely.

  4. George said on 13th June 2008, 15:36

    That’s very interesting Clive. Patrick Head is not noted for distributing profusive compliments to racing drivers… so that is well worth paying heed to.

    I think it is also worth remembering that Williams have a history of working with former Champ Car drivers (Villeneuve, Zanardi, Montoya) – something about that kind of driver seems to appeal to Frank and Patrick.

    I’d like to see that – Rosberg and Bourdais in a competitive Williams (I really would love to see a competitive Williams again…). Nakajima has certainly exceeded expectation this year and a move to Toyota is the most obvious one – but at the expense of which driver? Glock or Trulli? I would hate to see a driver of Jarno’s calibre forced out.

  5. Tom said on 13th June 2008, 17:06

    Just on the Coulthard issue, I think he will form part of the new BBC TV Team. I think he’s had a higher media profile here this year I think. Just a thought anyway.

  6. Steve K said on 13th June 2008, 17:12

    A move to NASCAR makes much more sense for Patrick than a move to F1. Her strength is Oval racing. Despite her great finish at Belle Isle last year, Ovals is what this driver excels at the most.

    NASCAR Superstar Kyle Busch is supposedly going to test drive a Toyota F1 car in Japan this offseason.

  7. Barret B said on 13th June 2008, 19:30

    Crash.net reported Tuesday that Danica Patrick will get an F1 test with Honda. Is that true or not?

  8. Lady Snowcat said on 13th June 2008, 20:19

    I think that the Alonso to Honda rumour has at least as much sense as Alonso to Ferrari….

    It’s clear he’s touting around for a drive and if he was already signed to Ferrari he’d hardly bother to destabilise his team this year would he?….

    I can see Ross being interested… and Alonso thinking that with Ross and a big budget, as well as a clean sheet for next year, it could well be attractive….

    More so than a big bucks move to a team without Ross…

    But Jenson has been Honda’s favoued son in the past…would he be going into another Macca type environment…

  9. Oliver said on 13th June 2008, 20:24

    Lets not kid ourselves, Danica is not yet F1 material.

  10. Sassan said on 13th June 2008, 23:10

    What about Chandhok racing for Force India in 09.

    Renault might hit form next year so alonso could stay.

  11. Wesley said on 14th June 2008, 0:05

    Hello Clive,where ya been?

    I hope Nakajima is headed to Toyota,I don’t see Trulli losing his seat to him though George.(hope not anyway)

    Alonso to Honda would be VERY interesting(don’t think it will happen though).Imagine…Button,Brawn and Fernando bringing Honda to the front.That is a lot man power there if they can get that car up to the front it would be hard to stop them.

  12. Daniel said on 14th June 2008, 3:16

    im actually amazed that there was no mention of Webber going to BMW. it seems possible, tho the chances went down after nick’s podium at canada.

  13. the limit said on 14th June 2008, 3:25

    I can’t see Alonso going to Honda, but I can see him going to BMW Sauber, that is depending on what direction Robert Kubica’s career takes.
    In the longterm, if Renault is not where he wants to be, BMW Sauber would appear to have the ‘package’ available for Fernando to regain some prominance again.
    David Coulthard helped his cause famously in Montreal, but he has been involved in a number of ‘incidents’ this season that did not go unnoticed. That and his age go against him, so I think it is highly likely that this is his last year.
    Vettel is the obvious replacement, and would make a fine team mate to Mark Webber. Mark could teach him about the ‘two second rule’ between testing.
    Piquet JNR is at serious risk of losing his race seat for 2009. I have nothing against the guy, but he has to start delivering. Does he have the experience to be a longterm test driver? I am unsure on that one.
    I can see him ending up like Christien Klein, Takumo Sato, and Anthony Davidson. And that is a shame, and I hope I am wrong.
    Grosjean may well take Piquet JNR’s seat at Renault, but that will depend on how well he fairs in this year’s
    GP2 championship.
    I have said before that Bruno Senna would get to drive in Formula One, and Toro Rosso would be a great place to start alongside Bourdais. Ofcourse, the name Senna still means so much to the sport, so just having Bruno onboard wearing that familar paint schemed helmet will only generate more interest in F1.
    Gerhard Berger has long been a friend to the Senna family, and I believe has always shown an interest in Bruno Senna’s career up until now.
    As for Danica Patrick, if she does move, and I stress does, then it will be to NASCAR. The money, publicity, and hunger for NASCAR in America is just huge.
    I seriously hope this does not happen, as this, in my opinion, would undermine the IRL series to a certain extent. In Patrick, the IRL have something NASCAR have not. A woman driver who is prepared, and on her day, good enough to take on the boys and win.
    There are better drivers in IRL, but none with more higher profile than Patrick.
    Formula One has only limited appeal in America, the t.v audiences are just not high enough, around 10 million I am led to believe, out of a country of 300 million. Well, atleast 10 million of us have good taste.

  14. Robert McKay said on 14th June 2008, 12:19

    I’ll eat something woollen if Alonso goes to Honda next year. If he hates being in a mildly uncompetitive Renault, he’s going to be pigsick of driving a Honda very quickly indeed.

    The only reason it would make any sense at all is if he has an agreement to go to Ferrari in 2010 and only signed for Renault for one year and thus is kicking his heels trying to at least stay sharp for his Ferrari debut. And even then I imagine Renault would still take him for one more season.

    On the other rumours, 2008 being DC’s last season in F1 looks very likely (I think Tom’s suggestion of BBC using him in some role is a good one), Vettel to Red Bull looks a given, Grosjean to Renault in place of Piquet seems highly plausible to me and Bruno Senna to Toro Rosso is fairly possible, but I remember Berger said something like “don’t rush it, Bruno” so maybe not 2009.

    And the less said about the Danica rumours, the better: she’s said herself plenty of times that she still struggles on the non-oval rounds of the IRL, i.e. street tracks and road courses. She might get tests, for the PR, though.

  15. Oliver said on 14th June 2008, 13:48

    Sons of Famous Fathers, and Piquet at the moment is the least favorite. Nakajima we all thought would be lacking in the skills necessary for an F1 campaign but little did we know, that he was more mature can capable than we all thought. Piquet May need another year at GP2 then maybe come back excepting he does a fantastic second half of season.

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