2009 F1 driver rumours: Alonso & Senna

Who will Fernando Alonso be driving for in 2009?

Who will Fernando Alonso be driving for in 2009?

The rumours about Fernando Alonso joining Honda appear to be gaining strength with some sources suggesting a deal has already been done. And several teams appear to be interested in signing Bruno Senna.

Plus, Heikki Kovalainen was confirmed as a McLaren driver last weekend, for at least one more year, on what turned out to be the eve of his first F1 win. Let’s take a look at some of the rumours around the 2009 F1 driver market.

Fernando Alonso to Honda

Rumour rating:

I was a bit sceptical about this rumour when I first heard about it in June. But yesterday Guardian journalist Alan Henry put his name to an article claiming Fernando Alonso will partner Jenson Button at Honda in 2009 and even stated the fee involved: ??7.6m ($15m).

There are a couple of things about the rumour that seem strange. Would Alonso really want to change teams for the third year in a row? Henry even suggests the deal might only be for one year as Alonso may to Ferrari in 2010, making it four changes in as many years. Is this stretching the limits of credulity too far?

On the other hand Renault seem in no better shape this year than they were last year and Alonso is in as good a place as anyone to judge how they will perform in 2009. Honda seem to have bags of potential: they were the first team to get their Kinetic Energy Recovery System on-track (with no reports of mechanics being electrocuted) and have made it quite clear how much of thier effort has been focused on 2009. Plus, they’ve got Ross Brawn, one of the pitlane’s foremost strategists.

If Alonso were to leave Renault, who would replace him? Assuming Renault are going to keep Nelson Piquet Jnr they’d probably want a more experienced driver alongside him. So would they take Rubens Barrichello in a straight swap? Or might BMW drop Nick Heidfeld?

Kazuki Nakajima stays at Williams

Rumour rating:

Toyota have Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock contracted for 2009 (some news sources are running stories claiming Glock has had a contract extension for next year, but his deal was described as ‘multi-year’ when it was announced last year).

Although Kazuki Nakajima’s pace hasn’t been quite a match for Nico Rosberg’s he finished in the points more often and is showing signs of improvement.

If Nakajima were to go anywhere else it would be Toyota, so another year at Williams looks like a good bet.

Heikki Kovalainen stays at McLaren

Rumour rating:
Done deal

I didn’t have time to write a post about it, but Kovalainen has been confirmed at a McLaren driver. That means McLaren and Ferrari each have all their drivers contracted for 2009 (Hamilton is signed until 2012), but apparently Alonso has not firmed up his 2009 plans yet in the hope Raikkonen may quit his contract a year early to retire.

Bruno Senna to Williams

Rumour rating:

Until now speculation on the future of Bruno Senna (nephew of Ayrton) linked him to the seat at Toro Rosso left vacant by Sebastian Vettel.

But as Senna closes in on GP2 series leader Giorgio Pantano rumours have linked him to test drives at BMW and Toyota. Another rumour puts him at Williams in a move backed by the team’s petrol supplier Petrobras, which is Brazilian.

In order for that to work, however, he’d have to squeeze either Rosberg or Nakajima out of their Williams seats, which doesn’t look too likely at the moment. Senna has said he wants a race seat, and Toro Rosso is the only team that seems able to offer that right now.

But if a BMW test seat is available he may consider that a better bet than Toro Rosso. BMW are a top three team, whereas the future of Toro Rosso is uncertain as owner Dietrich Mateschitz is looking to sell the team. Senna began his single-seater career in Formula BMW.

Bruno Senna: Meet the rookies

BMW to drop Nick Heidfeld

Rumour rating:

Before the Hungarian Grand Prix Mario Theissen indicated he was not yet convinced Nick Heidfeld had gotten past the problems he was suffering earlier in the year:

I am very confident that he has overcome the weak period, but you don’t get into this within a week and you don’t get out of it within a week. So, he has to work systematically – and he is working systematically. And I am confident he will get back to full performance and full confidence.

Heidfeld was eliminated in the first round of qualifying at Hungary – no thanks to Sebastien Bourdais. But his qualifying performances relative to Robert Kubica’s are still poor: he has only beaten Kubica once on Saturday – and that was when the Pole spent the final part of the session in the garage with a car problem.

If BMW did drop Heidfeld they might promote test driver Christian Klien, who has quite a lot of F1 experience. But this is all highly speculative. BMW’s options on Heidfeld and Kubica expire at the end of next month and the team are believed to want to extend Kubica’s deal until the end of 2010.

F1 2009 drivers and teams
F1 2009 season

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34 comments on 2009 F1 driver rumours: Alonso & Senna

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  1. Paul Sainsbury said on 5th August 2008, 15:09

    It would be interesting to see Alonso in a Honda next year. I lost a lot of respect for him last year, but I have always really rated him as a driver. He always gives 100% and is usually enetertaining to watch.

  2. Chaz said on 5th August 2008, 16:19

    If Alonso goes to Honda that would surely be even more of a backward step for him. Even with Ross Brawn there, surely it is highly unlikely they will make significant enough developments to make themselves competitive enough… (but I hope I’m wrong as it would be nice to see Honda fighting towards the top of the field, with or without Alonso)

    P.S – I thought Honda recently confirmed the same drivers for next year?

  3. Kubica is a beast said on 5th August 2008, 16:20

    Klien to BMW race seat? ….I think I’m gonna puke….

  4. Scott Joslin said on 5th August 2008, 16:22

    I think Alonso would be ill advised to jump ship to Honda on the premise that he wants to end up in a Ferrari by 2010. I believe that Honda have set themselves the target of finishing in the points regularly in 2009 and have avoided any overly ambitious claims. In which case he is already achieving that at Renault, and they are bound to produce a slightly better car having the continuity of Alonso for the second year.

    I agree that William are highly doubtful to drop Nakajima as he is keeping the Japanese engine manufacturer happy until he is ready to join them.

    Any one have any ideas about who would step in a Renault, if he did leave? Would Renault take a punt on Senna or a steady eddie to replace Piquet?

  5. Polak said on 5th August 2008, 16:45

    Keith: Looks like you got a mistake in the last paragraph about Alonso.

    “If Alonso were to go to Renault, who would replace him?”

  6. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 5th August 2008, 16:48

    Thanks Polak, fixed.

  7. donwatters said on 5th August 2008, 18:26

    I don’t see FA going to Honda for just one season. What’s the rationale? If he is indeed going to Ferrari in 2010, he’d be much better off staying at Renault for the ’09 season. He knows them, they know him…and it’s just for one season anyway.

  8. Paul, I did not lose any respect for Alonso last year, in fact it grew up. You have to see things in full context. When he fought MS he was in a french team against a German in an Italian team. He had to make himself being heard just to save what it looked to be getting away of his hands.Last year he was in a British team, fighting a British driver, aginst the British press hopes (the year before he was stood by that press) and with the top of maFIA and of course Bernie against. You have to be very brave to just open quitely your mouth in these conditions, look at Heikki this year. Martin said that Lewis was 7 tenths per lap quicker than him in the German GP, and they told him. In the same car that slower?. Which race did Lewis pit after Heikki? Is he getting the same opportunities, for sure?. Why has he extended one year more his contract? Because of the German GP?. Anyway, if anything I would call Alonso naive if he thought that making things public would go in his favour.

    Going to the topic, I do not know how the relations with Ferrari are for Ross Brawn, but surely he knows pretty well everybody. The Guardian pointed that FA would end in Ferrari via Honda. Surely Brawn has more information than anyone else about the timing of Kimmi to retire and are prepared to give one year contract in the hope that they could retain him longer because they are quite confident that they have a winning car for 2009, and I would not rubish Brawn after saying that. They´ve got the money and the power for doing it. They are Japanese,you know?. The problem is that FA and Briatore have too much empathy and that the Ferrari stuff might be ended for 2010 already, so Alonso might not want to help to develop a potencial rival for that year.

  9. Sush said on 5th August 2008, 19:47

    being a Heidfield fan i’m gonna have to go nuts if Klien replaces him at BMW next year.

  10. M Smith said on 5th August 2008, 20:05

    A 1/5 for the “Heidfeld going out of BMW” is right. Yes, he hasn’t been able to keep up with Kubica pretty much all season, but he not slow, and he’s certainly a steady driver and shrewd racer.

    But I do think that Klien deserves a race seat next year. Toro Rosso, perhaps?

  11. Hello;
    I’m totally with donwatters, if Alonso wants to go “one day” to Ferrary, would be better not to move too much…in the end this will be “bad reputation” (sorry missing the right word…) for him. He has to wait the right time, and i think that even beign really a pain to see him in Renault without options he has to be patient…
    But i can’t wait more! Please Alonso, go to Ferrari now!!!
    Then we will have a good era with him and Ham in a competitive car…
    F1 will be on fire! :-) (not literally as last weekend)..
    P.S.Sorry for my poor english…

  12. Wesley said on 5th August 2008, 23:04

    @ Sush…….ditto.

  13. Number 38 said on 5th August 2008, 23:22

    I suspect Klien is another Massa, no one likes him but he’ll do well anyway.

  14. Terry Fabulous said on 5th August 2008, 23:25

    I would like to see Fred go to Honda so we can finally get to the bottom of the Jenson Button Conundrum.
    Is he an ace or not?
    I hope that in the same car Jenson could give Fred a real go, (but I kind of suspect that he couldn’t!)

    It is the same as Mark Webber and Vettel next year. It will end the career of one of them, and launch the other.

  15. donwatters said on 5th August 2008, 23:35

    Number 38: I like Felipe alot. I think Ferrari does as well. Of course he’s an active racer who doesn’t brag about his abilities. Unlike some racer-like people.

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