2010 F1 driver rumours: Raikkonen spurns Toyota, Renault eyes rookies

Kimi Raikkonen is on Toyota's wish-list

Kimi Raikkonen is on Toyota's wish-list

Remarkably, with just one race left to run the entry list for next year is far from complete. Just six drivers have their contracts officially in place for 2010 and there could be as many as 22 places left to fill.

Among those yet to sign deals are newly-crowned champion Jenson Button, team mate Rubens Barrichello and former champion Kimi Raikkonen. So where are they going to end up?

Toyota court Raikkonen

Raikkonen has had discussions with McLaren and Toyota. His salary demands appear to be too much for the latter, and he is also negotiating for the smallest commitment to PR events he can get away with.

Toyota have given off mixed signals about who could be driving for them next year. While John Howett has been critical of Jarno Trulli in the press, the Italian claims team boss Tadashi Yamashina wants him to stay.

Similarly, Timo Glock has insisted he will keep his place and poured scorn on claims he was informed of the team’s decision to drop him at Singapore. Howett described Glock’s stand-in, Kamui Kobayashi, as “a bit slow” in Brazil but also suggested the Japanese driver could stay at the team in 2010.

But we still can’t take their participation next year for granted until their budget is confirmed next month. New Toyota president Akio Toyoda blogs about his company’s road cars using a pseudonym and isn’t very complimentary about them. One has to wonder what he makes of his company’s faltering F1 effort.

Lots of room for rookies

Four different names have been linked to the second Renault seat alongside Robert Kubica. They include former Renault test drivers Lucas di Grassi and Franck Montagny, plus Glock and Bruno Senna.

This suggests Romain Grosjean has fallen out of favour already. His results haven’t been great but given how he was hastily drafted into the team with little testing, perhaps he’s being judged too harshly too quickly.

Many of the latest crop of GP2 talent have got sponsors lined up and are hoping for places at F1’s new teams for 2010 – Manor, USF1, Campos and Lotus.

Looking elsewhere it would be astonishing if, having won the championship with Brawn, Button ended up somewhere else next year. He’s found himself at the centre of contract disputes in the past, but a wrangle over money at this late stage would reflect poorly on the new champion.

It still looks as though Barrichello will make way for Nico Rosberg at Brawn, heading to Williams in a straight swap. As Williams will not be using Toyota engines next year, Kazuki Nakajima will most likely be moving on.

Two drivers rarely mentioned in the ‘who goes where’ discussions are Heikki Kovalainen and Nick Heidfeld. Kovalainen will stay at McLaren if Raikkonen doesn’t tke his place, but Heidfeld is taking a risk if he gambles on Qadbak keeping the former BMW team in Formula 1.

Slow upheaval

One thing is for sure – almost every team in F1 will start 2010 with a different pair of drivers to who they ended 2009 with. Red Bull is the only certain exception at this stage.

The scale of the upheaval is one of the reasons why the driver market is moving so slowly this year.

Last year the driver market was unusually stable – most teams kept the same pairings for 2009 as 2008. And many of those drivers had contracts that expired in 2009. So everyone’s on the move at once.

The recession has forced teams to cut budgets and that means some tough discussions on driver salaries are taking place – Button and Raikkonen are cases in point.

Add to that the uncertainty over which teams will be competing next year and the situation becomes very complex.

As usual, the most coveted drivers take their seats first and that is by and large what has happened so far. But it’s taking a while and there could be some surprises still to come.

Read more: 2010 F1 drivers and teams

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157 comments on 2010 F1 driver rumours: Raikkonen spurns Toyota, Renault eyes rookies

  1. Richard Evans said on 22nd October 2009, 11:36

    Davidson deserves another chances, as do algasuari and buemi.
    I reckon mclaren would be better for kimi than kimi would be for mclaren but i reckon he will still go there, Mclaren are probably desperate for a constructors championship after failing in 07 and 08 and hes a safe bet for consistent points.

    The sooner trulli falls down the grid the better, how many races has he made worse by the infamous trulli-train.

  2. Rikhart said on 22nd October 2009, 11:48

    If either mclaren or brawn (no way Raikkonen will go to toyota) doesnt shell out for him, this sport will be a whole lot poorer without one of the top 3 current drivers. Cant see this happening, hes just too good not to drive next year for a top team. And furthermore he will be the most fired up in ages, and looking out for ferrari blood…
    Not many can match a fired up Raikkonen sitting inside a good car.

    • chaostheory said on 22nd October 2009, 12:37

      Well said. I think Kimi can achieve a lot more in F1 just give him right machinery. In my opinion he should go to McLaren – I dont like them too much, but I know they can build powerfull cars, and they should know by now how to handle two great drivers in one team (from their own experience, and by learning from Ferrari AD2008 and Brawn AD2009). Toyota would be too much of a gamble for him, and even if the Japanese can build good car next season, they will quit F1 sooner or later…

    • sumedh said on 22nd October 2009, 12:42

      Kimi is no doubt one of the fastest drivers today.

      But 9 times out of 10, there is some issue that bothers him. Whether its the temperature in the tyres, or the setup of the car, or his “motivation”, or change of strategy, etc, etc, etc.

      There are too many IFs with respect to Kimi’s performance. A lot of things have to go right for him to make an impact. Even if one of them fails, he seems lost. The other top drivers Hamilton, Alonso, Button, Massa can make things work even if all things aren’t in perfect place for them. They can work around problems. Kimi, however, can’t.

    • jules said on 22nd October 2009, 14:02

      Oh yes, kimi will be on fire for ferrari revenge next year, cutting his contract in favour of Alonso. He needs Mclaren, a top team. Not sure if toyota can give him the winning car he wants.

  3. marcus said on 22nd October 2009, 12:38

    i reckon Kimi and Hamilton would do well together.


    Hamilton wants to win whatever the cost.#

    Kimi just wants to drive well and do his own thing.

    “Unlike having in Ferrari”:

    Massa wants to win a world title.

    Alonso wants to win badly.#

    #You can see why it never turned out so well in 2007 for both of them.

    I think Hamilton or Kimi could pip both Ferrari’s to the end next season or maybe dominate it, while Massa and Alonso are at each others throat.

    I wont be surprised if Spain starts to hate Massa next, the way they act, with other drivers beating Alonso to. So that would make Spain hate Great Britain x2, Germany x1 and maybe Brazil x1 soon.

    • jules said on 22nd October 2009, 14:11

      very funny. Massa and Alonso……latin hotheads, both want to win, and Alonso likes to be the first driver, not playing second fiddle to Hamilton back in 2007. And Massa is no rookie and just missed out by a point. Massa is not happy l doubt with Alonso playing his part in Singapore last year and won the race, thanks to the safety car and piquets crash……..i agree with Massa, he would have known.

  4. Prisoner Monkeys said on 22nd October 2009, 13:19

    Motorsport Aktuell are reporting that Renault are looking to exit the sport, but stay on as an egine supplier. Their buyer is supposedly Mangrove venture capital founder Gerard Lopez and Andrej Krajnik, a Russian who is connected to MegaFon, one of Renault’s sponsors.

    Ecclestone was quoted in a Sao Paulo newspaper as saying he had just talked with someoen who wanted to uy one of the teams.

  5. NickB said on 22nd October 2009, 14:02

    I think what most people don’t appreciate is that the ferrari Kimi has been driving for 3 seasons is fundamentally not suited to his preference for oversteer. Unlike his probable future team mate he is not one to blame the car every time he has an uncompetetive race. If Mclaren want to challenge Ferrari for the constructors next season then they need him even if that means upsetting their star driver by replacing a willing def-facto no.2.

  6. SennaBoy3 said on 22nd October 2009, 14:30

    I think Toyota are fools for not paying WHATEVER Kimster asks for. Struggling team, DYING to get a victory, they need a legit top line driver to take them to the next level. Sorry, but Trulli, Glock or Kobayashi(sp?) aren’t gettin it done. Kimi on the other hand brings instant cred, tons of fans and a real chance for victory.

    • Agree. Toyota have tried to get by with a string of so so drivers who had never done much. E.g., McNish, Salo, Ralf, Panis, Trulli. This penny-pinching have left them with so so results despite having a car that is often very quick. Give Raikkonen his paper and let him do his one-monthly appearance and be done with it. Publicity-wise, it’s probably just as well to have a world champion on your roster than some journeyman who will do 50 Panasonic commercials.

    • Tiomkin said on 22nd October 2009, 21:16

      So Toyota has a budget of $X and Kimi demands $Y, which is more than they have. So they should pay him and bankrupt themselves? No money for the rest of the team, etc. If the Icecream man prices himself out of F1 then so be it.

      • three4three said on 23rd October 2009, 12:34

        No, I agree with Sennaboy3 and DMW. If KR is asking for $25m they should just pay it. Toyota badly need a driver who can deliver wins, even if they need to stretch their driver budget. Toyota need to go for broke!

  7. F1Fan said on 22nd October 2009, 21:25

    I hope Kimi goes back to McLaren. Toyota won’t be able to compete for the WDC next year. It will be between Ferrari and McLaren once again. I think Brawn was a one-off. RBR may be up there too in 2010, but I don’t think they can threaten the big boys.

  8. Paige Michael-Shetley said on 22nd October 2009, 21:49

    I think Raikkonen to McLaren is a done deal.

    For one, Saward is right; Raikkonen wouldn’t have just left Ferrari without knowing where he’s going next.

    Secondly, Whitmarsh sent out all the signals through the media the whole that he’s wanted back at McLaren. The way he has talked about him since the Ferrari change was announced- talking about how talented he is, how underrated his technical aptitude is, how motivated he would be to beat Ferrari “knowing him”- indicates that wants Raikkonen and is committed to making it work.

    Raikkonen also made some comments in the last week or so to Finnish media which went unreported, interestingly, indicating that his contract negotiations were going well and that something could be “done” now, but that nothing is finalized until everyone signs. This tells me he’s made up his mind already, and given how Howett has said that Raikkonen wants “too much money” this weekend, the chronology of the statements points to McLaren.

    Personally, I think John Howett is making all the Raikkonen business up. He’s one of the most incompetent people in F1, and like a lot of incompetent people, he overcompensates by being loud and boisterous. Toyota has failed under his leadership to deliver results despite spending as much as anyone, and he knows his job is likely on the line. He’s thus publicly blamed his drivers for the team’s problems (even though it was the team that gave away a victory in Bahrain with poor tire strategy) to prevent himself for taking accountability for the team’s results, and he’s made bold statements about going after both Raikkonen and Kubica as part of his “line.”

    Howett probably knew he had no chance at getting Raikkonen all along, and this comment about Raikkonen wanting “too much money” is his way of trying to deflect responsibility for not signing him off to someone else rather than himself or the team under his leadership.

  9. Hallard said on 23rd October 2009, 0:11

    Assuming that the McLaren-Raikkonen deal isnt already done, McLaren are being very clever by waiting until the end of the season to announce drivers. That way Raikkonen will hold out until then, and presumably all the other decent teams will fill up, and he’ll lose all his bargaining chips. He’ll either have to race for McLaren for less money, or just walk away from F1. Also it keeps Heikki performing so that they can clinch 3rd place in constructors championship.

  10. The Limit said on 23rd October 2009, 0:58

    McLaren may have been burned by Alonso’s presence in 2007, but for the fans that loved it like me, I would be dancing in the street if Raikkonen went to McLaren.
    For the Hamilton haters, of which I see regulary on this site and others there are many, a fast Raikkonen would really start the fur flying.
    Nico Rosberg to Brawn Gp is another prospect that interests me. I have always rated Rosberg, and a pairing with Jenson Button would certainly bear fruit. Its certainly exciting, as there are so many different outcomes and new teams emerging. Nobody knows what will happen to the former BMW Sauber team, or Renault or Toyota.
    It makes the Abu Dhabi race still a watchable prospect, with so many drivers desperate to keep their drives for 2010!

  11. Prisoner Monkeys said on 23rd October 2009, 5:13

    Not that this has any basis in reality, but I just saw a certain sequence of videos on YouTube, and … KEN BLOCK FOR USF1!

  12. Michael K said on 23rd October 2009, 8:27

    Well, it’ll be Kimi to McLaren, Red Bull or out of F1. I think it’ll be McLaren and this would mean the most motivated Kimi in years. Mark my words: if this happens, he’ll beat Lewis.
    To everyone saying that Kimi isn’t all that good, cracks up under pressure: I suggest you look into his career rather than the last season. Without McLaren’s reliability issues he would’ve taken at least one if not two championships of Schumacher.
    He was beaten by Massa in his second season at Ferrari, that he threw away himself, but, remind me, what happened in his first season at Ferrari? The season when he entered the team as a newbie and Massa was already established both in the team and had developed the car?
    Kimi can be moody, but if he is performing well, he is one of the best if not THE best.

    • Prisoner Monkeys said on 23rd October 2009, 9:43

      He’s not going to Red Bull. He’s dismissed it, the Robertsons have dismissed it, Red Bull have dismissed it and Mark Webber has dismissed it.

      Why are people so convinced that it can still happen?

      • steph90 said on 23rd October 2009, 10:45

        Because it is F1 and generally people don’t stick by what they say :P
        I wouldn’t look too much at what teams/drivers say anyway, I would look at what is on offer for Kimi. Mclaren who nearly always can find their way to the front somehow or RBR who have only really been great this season and we have no idea if they can continue their form.

  13. Gustav said on 23rd October 2009, 11:18

    Newest rumour has it that Button is on his way to McLaren because Brawn GP won’t pay up. My advice to Button would be to stay with Brawn, he’ll get smashed by Hamilton and everyone will think of his championships as being won by Honda.

  14. We all have our views on the drivers’ abilities and know how car-reliant they are but what about the car designers. Who can produce a great car out of the box that is capable of sound development during the year?
    We know that Ross somehow inspires great designs without putting pencil to paper (or clicking a mouse) Adrian is more hands on. Rory is still a consultant at Ferrari. Ron’s team ethic meant that we know less about individuals at McLaren. Force India did a lot with a little. Gascoine is at Lotus.
    Which cars will be strong next year?

  15. Robbie said on 23rd October 2009, 12:27

    I don’t think Button will get into any wrangles over money. If you saw his British press conference after winning the championship he clearly said he wanted to stay with Brawn. Button feels quite close to the team as he had been with Honda for years before that.

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