Webber and Massa key to 2012 driver market

2012 F1 season

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Shanghai, 2011

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Shanghai, 2011

With five of the top six seats for 2012 already occupied, you might think we’re in for another quiet ‘silly season’.

But every driver on the grid must covet the seat at Red Bull that’s currently up for grabs. And Felipe Massa’s place at Ferrari next year is thought to be far from secure.

So where will the big moves in the driver market for 2012 take place?

Red Bull

Earlier this year Sebastian Vettel fixed his place at Red Bull until 2014.

But Mark Webber’s deal runs out at the end of this season, having signed a one-year extension in June last year.

Webber has won six races with Red Bull and it’s doubtful he’d enjoy as competitive a car anywhere else. But he has made several remarks about the team’s perceived preference for his team mate and it’s not hard to see how that might have soured relations.

That sounds like good news for Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari but which – if either – of Red Bull’s development drivers would get the nod? They also have Daniel Ricciardo waiting in the wings, but he’s yet to make his F1 debut.

If Webber does stay put, expect it to be another one-year deal.

McLaren

Both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are under contract for next year.

Ferrari

On paper, Felipe Massa is going nowhere – he signed a two-year deal last year taking him up to the end of 2012.

But you only have to look at what happened to Kimi R?â?ńikk?â?Ânen two years ago to realise that is no guarantee Massa will stay where he is.

He had a poor 2010, culminating in the notorious order from the team to hand victory to Fernando Alonso in Germany.

He has begun 2011 well and finished in front of Alonso in two of the three races so far. But as long as they are so wholeheartedly behind his team mate, it’s doubtful whether there’s a place for Massa at Ferrari any more.

Should Massa leave the team, he may find many teams eager to hire a driver with several years’ experience at the Scuderia.

Mercedes

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Shanghai, 2011

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Shanghai, 2011

Michael Schumacher’s return to F1 has been conspicuously short on success so far but he says he’s determined to see out the three-year deal he began in 2010.

That hasn’t prevented some from tipping him to be moved aside to make way for an up-and-coming driver – such as Nico H?â??lkenberg or Paul di Resta, both of which drive for Mercedes-powered Force India.

But it’s too early to call the second season of his comeback a failure and it’s hard to imagine a driver as successful and popular as Schumacher leaving on anyone’s terms other than his own.

Renault

If Robert Kubica is able and willing to return to F1, he has a Renault berth secured until 2012.

Prior to his accident there had been much speculation about him being signed by one of the top teams. But he has a long period of recuperation and recovery ahead of him and until we know for sure if he is coming back, it’s impossible to say what might happen.

Vitaly Petrov also has a contract for 2012.

The rest

Changes at the front of the field will inevitably affect the driver line-up further back.

At Lotus and Virgin there are three experienced drivers, some of them race-winners, who have spent more than 12 months in cars not capable of getting beyond Q1.

Their loyalty to the new team projects they joined last year will be tested if they get a sniff of a seat in an RB8 or F2012.

At Williams, Rubens Barrichello could stretch his record-breaking career even further by starting a 20th season in 2012.

Which drivers do you think will change teams next year? Will Webber and Massa keep their top team places? And who’s heading for retirement? Have your say in the comments.

Keep up-to-date on the 2012 F1 season developments on these two new pages you can find via the menu:

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169 comments on Webber and Massa key to 2012 driver market

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  1. Prisoner Monkeys said on 2nd May 2011, 12:28

    That sounds like good news for Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari but which – if either – of Red Bull’s development drivers would get the nod?

    Who says they’ll get the nod at all? They might be a part of the Red Bull Young Driver Development Program, but that does not guarantee them a seat at the parent team in the event of a vacancy. In this day and age, teams need two competitive drivers in order to be able to stand a chance of competing for the World Constructors’ Championship. They have to take the best driver available to them, even if it comes from a team other than Toro Rosso. Neither Alguersuari or Buemi were made any promises of a Red Bull seat regardless of what happened (and arguably, fixating on a Red Bull drive distracted Sebastien Buemi last year). If they want to take Mark Webber’s place, they have to earn it – and I daresay they’ll be facing some stiff competition for it. I expect the name Kamui Kobayashi might come up at some point, and possibly Sergio Perez (if he makes good on his Melbourne promise). You could even make cases for Nico Rosberg (if he feels Mercedes are going nowhere), Paul di Resta (if he keeps making Sutil look silly and Mercedes do not take him for 2012) or even Vitaly Petrov (if he gets his qualifying right and keeps up his points-scoring performances) in place of Alguersuari or Buemi.

    • f1fanboy said on 2nd May 2011, 12:37

      Perez wont go to Red Bull, he is Ferrari youth acadamy.

      • TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 2nd May 2011, 12:42

        I think Red Bull will push for someone like Hamilton if Webber leaves. I don’t think they’ll put Jaime or Buemi in the car.

        • f1fanboy said on 2nd May 2011, 13:19

          Doubt it would be Hamilton since he costs so much as a driver and has a lot of verbal power with the media.

          They would want a driver like Kobayashi or Di Resta showing signs of WDC material but a quarter of the price and less mind game hassle when going up against vettel. Slap a 3 year contract on that guy with a few bonuses and Red Bull will be laughing.

          @PM
          Massa was part of the Ferrari acadamy first and that didn’t stop him going to Ferrari down the line with his decent results with sauber. Perez is doing the same so it’s obvious to assume Ferrari will take him full time sooner than later.

        • Tom said on 2nd May 2011, 14:38

          The outsider has to be Rosberg – in the right circumstances he’d jump to RBR.

          Merc haven’t yet found the pace, and have put far too much faith in Schumi over him, despite the difference in results they’ve shown. I also think he’d settle in well (for the first season) with Vettel unlike many.

          It’s stupid to read into driver relationships too much, after a season anything can change.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 2nd May 2011, 12:50

        Perez wont go to Red Bull, he is Ferrari youth acadamy.

        It doesn’t guarantee he will go to Ferrari. Any contract he signed with them that prevented him from going to any other team would be unfair, because it would effectively block him from continuing his career if Ferrari did not want him. It’s more likely Ferrari have a pre-contract with him that give them the right to make the first offer to Perez. In the event that another team consider signing him, they would need to inform Ferrari first. Ferrari would then either make Perez an offer of their own that he would need to accept or reject before the other team took him, or pass on their right to making the first offer, thus allowing Perez to talk to other teams.

      • Calum (@calum) said on 2nd May 2011, 17:44

        ———
        Mclaren
        ———
        (1)Hamilton will sign the ~7 year lifetime deal for Mclaren.
        (2)Mclaren could not do any better for a second driver than Button, his position is safe for a good while yet.
        ———
        RedBull
        ———
        (1)Vettel will be at RedBull for some time, but move to Ferrari when the drinks co loses competativeness
        (2)Hulkenberg, if Force India haven’t given him a 2012 race seat!
        ———
        Mercedes GP
        ———
        (1)Rosberg is the Merc future.
        I cannot see Schumacher going past his contracted time, he may even retire this season if he gets a win.
        (2)Di Resta’s Merc ties make him at the factory team in 2013 so obvious!
        ———
        Ferrari
        ———
        (1)And Alonso will lead Ferrari for a few years yet.
        (2)Perez is the 2011 rookie along with Di Resta, who has improved and has ties with a factory team, I think they will let him mature at Sauber, keep Massa in ’12 and let the Mexican partner Alonso in 2013.
        ———

        • Last Pope Eye (@last-pope-eye) said on 2nd May 2011, 23:23

          Reasonable assumption… most of these might happened.

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 3rd May 2011, 9:10

          (2)Hulkenberg, if Force India haven’t given him a 2012 race seat!

          Hulkenberg will not go to Red Bull. He hasn’t done enough to justify it. He might have had a pole position in 2010, but he collapsed under pressure from the other drivers very quickly, and he’s been relegated to a test driver role for 2011. There’s no way Red Bull would invest in him. Not without another season under his belt.

        • MW (@) said on 3rd May 2011, 10:11

          Agree with most of that.. But I do think Mclaren could do better than Button for a 2nd driver.. As Barrichello suggested in the F1 site interview a Hamilton, Kubica line up would be explosive.
          The challenge to beat your team mate really doesn’t exist for hamilton, Kubica would provide some healthy pressure..
          Some major assumptions involved there re. Kubica’s recovery..

      • kowalsky said on 2nd May 2011, 18:25

        i agree. And looking at this very comercial f1 we have nowadays, i think botin is pushing to have him as alonso’s teammate. Just to get into slim’s radar.
        And people like hulkemberg are without a seat!!!
        I think the reason is that a today’s f1 is so easy to drive, that sponsor can dictate who drives, while in the past, talent dictated it, because without it, a driver would be 2 seconds off his teammates pace.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 2nd May 2011, 12:46

      I am pretty sure that Red Bull would want a driver capable of winning to replace Webber, in case Mark does not continue with them for another year.

      I would expect they might look at guys like Glock or Kovalainen or maybe even Massa rather than the two STR guys.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 2nd May 2011, 12:48

        Or mabye try and get Kobayashi to promote the Bull drink in Japan?

      • Todfod (@todfod) said on 2nd May 2011, 13:43

        I really doubt they will take Glock or Kovi. Kovi has shown that he isn’t exactly a race winning driver, and Glock really cant show what he is made of in that Virgin car. I think Massa, Sutil and Kobayashi stand a good chance if Webber leaves. Its too early to say if Perez and DiResta stand a chance. Although I think Vettel and DiResta teaming up again would be a lot of fun.

      • Sossoliso said on 2nd May 2011, 15:28

        +1
        Those 2 STR drivers are hopeless..That car they have this year is better than the results they are getting.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd May 2011, 13:59

      Who says they’ll get the nod at all?

      That’ll be why I wrote “if either”.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 2nd May 2011, 14:09

        I was thinking more of the inevitable claim that Alguersuari or Buemi would definately go to Red Bull simply because they are a part of the RBYDP.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd May 2011, 14:35

          the inevitable claim

          In other words, in the absence of anything to complain about you thought you’d invent something.

          • RIISE (@riise) said on 2nd May 2011, 15:06

            Haha nice one, Red Bull won’t be interested in promoting a Toro Rosso driver, especially since they are a race winning team now.

          • CarsVsChildren said on 2nd May 2011, 15:09

            Damn Keith. With takedowns like that you could be a MMA fighter.

          • andy-carter (@andy-carter) said on 2nd May 2011, 16:04

            comment of the day!!!

          • Calum (@calum) said on 2nd May 2011, 17:48

            But Torro Rosso are a race winning team too!

          • RIISE (@riise) said on 2nd May 2011, 19:28

            Not a current race winning team, they are barely a points scoring team now.

            That win in Monza was luck anyway.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 2nd May 2011, 20:59

            LOL, makes it easier to feel like winning each and every argument.

          • TFLB said on 2nd May 2011, 21:07

            I wish people would have the courage to say that to Prisoner Monkeys more often

          • unnnococooc said on 3rd May 2011, 3:24

            Something I think could happen is Massa and Webber switch. Massa gets into a new environment while Webber does aswell both are still in WDC capable teams.

            What I think will hapen though

            McLaren
            Hamilton – stays under contract and is happy. Media is the one mostly pushing the Hamilton isn’t happy unless he get a WDC car every year (like that has happened to other drivers in the past…. even Senna had years when his team didn’t do it)
            Button – Has a WDC, is at top team, a bit of a waste of space as it isn’t ever really challenging Hamilton, but is happy even if following behind Hamilton the whole way. Would probably be happy coming 2nd in the championship to Hamilton. Would love to see the spot filled by someone who would challenge Hamilton head on but not going to ahppen. Quick, uncontentious, happy, good for the no 2 ‘equal treatment’ seat at McLaren

            Ferrari
            Alonso – stays, which should make any viewer who loves Italian to Spanish communications in English over shoddy team radio.
            Massa – He has contract and looks to have a bit of a better season. Should then stay

            RBR
            Vettel – Is RBR really good enough for him, he is o brilliantl…. more hype around this guy that justin beiber for fks sake. He will stay, RBR keep him happy and give him years and years on contract. They even go to the extent of saying that if they can’t provide a top notch car the they don’t see why they shouold hold Vettel back.. Seriously? Even McLaren aren’t that daft with Hamilton or Ferrari with Alonso or Raikkonen.
            Webber – He’s staying barring major falls in pace. HE get a couple of wins, be quite hyped and a few months later will resign. The backlash from Webber fans and those who enjoy a bit of Mark Webber in their Formuala 1 wont be so impressed if the team of ‘equal treatment’ gives a multi year to one driver and doesn’t offer the other a decent contract while coming up with similiar results.

            Mercedes
            Schumacher – a bit of pressure to leave but he’ll stay. Expect cage fight between Di Resta and Hulkenberg for 2013.
            Rosberg – If schumacher stays it is 99.9% certain Rosberg will stay, smashing Schumacher and German(ish).

            Renault
            Petrov – Since he is improving.
            Heidfeld – Depending on how he goes. Kubica if he recovers in time. Hulkenberg or Senna if he doesn’t. If Heidfeld flops later in the season expect to see someone like Senna in the car for a race. Hulkenberg may take the seat depending on Kubica’s recovery, Hidfeld’s pace, Senna’s pace and any money involved (this is F1).

            Sauber
            Kobayashi – staying as he has no better spot and teams likes him. He is being more consistant this year and has proved he can do a clever 1 stopper rather than smashing it hard like he showed at the end of 09. Rather impressive
            Perez – Like a jr Kobayashi, including the silly overtakes and such. Good results, shall stay.

            Williams
            Barrichello – Experience, small cost to team, can develop car (much needed). If he wants to stay he most certainly will
            ?????? – Maldonado is ****. If he keeps up the money he will stay if he doesn’t then don’t expect him to be here next year

            Torro Rosso
            Ricciardo – top stuff and golden boy.
            Alguarsuari/Buemi – Depending on results etc… Wont be decided until last minute due to close results

            Force India
            Di Resta – Nowhere to go, another year with a ? for a Mercedes deal. FI is afterall Mercedes’ jr team sort of.
            Sutil – If he picks up the results then yes. Hulkenberg will test him in the sim but they will probably go Sutil. He isn’t exactly slow and does have experience.

            Lotus
            Kovalinian – Stays. Team are happy. Team is going somewhere in pace terms.
            Trulli – If he stops complaining and doesn’t retire by choice he will stay on.

            Virgin
            Glock – stays. No where else to go. Probably wants to go after horrible car. Wishes he was in Lotus I’m guessing
            D’Ambrosio – 2 reasons. 1 if they keep changing the 2nd driver over it will look like money grabbing. 2 he isn’t exactly that slow for a rookie. Will be completely overlooked by media though. HRT and Lotus too interesting

            HRT
            $$$$$$$$$$ – Naturally*
            Liuzzi – Calling it. looked like they couldn’t find another driver with money so they might take him for a bit of speed (lol) and knowledge of cars…

            *Pick your favourite exdriver who never had skills but does have money…

            HULKENBERG – if Maldonao is very bad and they have money will Hulkenberg consider a pitty drive? Morally he may not want it, but given that it might otherwise be 2 years out of driving… he may not have any practical choice.

            KUBICA – I’m expecting to do sim work and such and not be i a competitive shape but it’s too early to say

            SENNA – Depends on his sim work for Renault. He clearly has support to do show runs by himself (i.e. not just to show off one of the race drivers) and if he does will in the sim then a race seat is possible depending on other drivers.

            So overall expecting the following seats to provide interest

            Williams x1
            Force India x1
            Renault x1

            That is all. RBR and Ferrari will be over hyped but not much happening.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 3rd May 2011, 9:14

            In other words, in the absence of anything to complain about you thought you’d invent something.

            I’ve seen people claim that Red Bull will only take from Toro Rosso plenty of times in the recent past. This of my comments as a pre-emptive strike against them.

    • MattW said on 3rd May 2011, 4:03

      What’s the chances Webber resigns for 2012 only, one of Buemi or Alguersuari gets punted middle of the year for Ricciardo to drive Toro Rosso through to the end of 2012 then over to Mark’s empty seat at Red Bull in 2013?

      • unnnococooc said on 3rd May 2011, 5:24

        Maybe….

        But the problem Red Bull faces is that they can’t call equal treatment and then sack a driver (i.e. not re-sign who wants to be re-signed) while he is scoring better than his replacement.

        I know that is faced by other teams aswell but it appears that the going at teams currently is to have 2 strong drivers, 1 a bit stronger than the other and then when it comes tot e championship one takes the lead, the other after having their chances falls back a bit and so on. The strength of teh 2nd driver should be proportionate to the ability of the car.

        So a McLaren doing pretty well needs Hamilton and Button as they are both quick but if need be Hamilton will be given the shot and Button can play backup dancer while not moaing (clearly his best skill, and I don’t say that in a negative way).

        At Ferrari they fell they can do this with Alonso taking the lead and Massa playing backup. They did it with Rakkonen and Massa and hit problems when Massa improved and Raikkonen hit problems as Massa wasn’t good enough to take the led as Raikkonen had already taken away too many points (the few he had taken away).

        Red Bull feel that due to theirnewey’s cars being great thye can have a weaker 2nd driver to ensure they get the WDC with Vettel and the 2nd driver wnt interfer but will constantly finish on the podiums or just off it scoring points. Vettel can get 1st 2nd 1st 1st and the 2nd can get 2nd 4th 4th and they get heaps of points without worry.

        This works well when you have 2 situations
        1) A 2nd driver happy to be given equal treatment knowing that they probably can’t beat their teammate outright.. Button, even how he says he gets a McLaren F1 if he wins 3 WDC for McLaren you could see that he didn’t think he would get anywhere near that. he is a WDC and content that puts him in a select list.
        2) Ferrari’s rule of drivers drive for team and I call the shots… i.e. a dictatorship and if a driver needs to pull over he will pull over… barichello, massa, it doesn’t matter, tell the customer sauber engine to slow down hakkinen, sure.

        It doesn’t work in RBR though because Vettel isn’t fast enough for the ‘better equal driver’ and Webber is too fast for the ‘slower equal driver’. And as such they take points off each other, bicker, fight, crash, fall under pressure and crash, fall under pressure and forget how to drive. Get ****** off, angry adn throw tempretantrums.

        It would be alot better to have a Vettel-2nd driver or a Webber-2nd driver combo and Vettel is younger so they are going that way.

        The problem is that the tactic relies on one driver out performing the other so as to give a reason to support one for the WDC bid a bit more. McLaren screwed it as Button held on a bit too long, if he had dropped out back in Singapore then McLaren could ahve pushed Hamilton a bit more like in 08 over Kovalinian.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 3rd May 2011, 8:15

          Even with the strong car they have, I do not think Red Bull can get away with putting an unexperienced driver instead of a proven race winner or at least someone with proven talent in their 2nd car.

          The WDC is most important, but I am pretty sure RBR will want to have a say in the constructors championship as well. Not to mention the second car taking away points from their competition.

  2. RIISE (@riise) said on 2nd May 2011, 12:30

    Mercedes aren’t going to just sack Schumacher, he is still a very competent competitor and could still get good results once the car is completely there. Like the article says, if he leaves it will be on his own terms.

    I think Webber will leave Red Bull, it’s obvious he can’t compete with Vettel in both Red Bull preference and pace, I think he will go back to Williams, Barrichello may step down at the end of this season leaving a gap for him.

    I still think it would be rash to replace Massa, he is clearly in better form this year and the gap between Massa and Alonso must be perfect in Ferrari’s eyes.

    The one thing I do wish for at the end of this season is for Heidfeld to get a drive, he has proved to be an above average driver time and time again but gets overlooked time and time again. A drive at Lotus possibly if Trulli retires?

    • slr said on 2nd May 2011, 12:43

      Unless Lotus start scoring points, Heidfeld definately won’t want to join them.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 2nd May 2011, 12:53

      The one thing I do wish for at the end of this season is for Heidfeld to get a drive, he has proved to be an above average driver time and time again but gets overlooked time and time again. A drive at Lotus possibly if Trulli retires?

      Heidfeld’s pretty close to retirement himself, and he’s talked about joining BMW’s DTM project for 2012. He can’t race in Formula 1 forever. If Trulli were to leave his team, it’s more likely that Fernandes will take Davide Valsecchi or Luiz Razia (depending on who does better in GP2) because he can hold onto them for longer.

    • TFLB said on 2nd May 2011, 13:43

      I think it will be Heidfeld and Vettel at Red Bull.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 2nd May 2011, 13:53

      Mercedes aren’t going to just sack Schumacher, he is still a very competent competitor and could still get good results once the car is completely there.

      In all fairness, pretty much all the drivers on the grid can be competitive once the car is ‘completely there’.

      The focus of this article has been on Webber’s departure, however, I think there will be a greater chance of Rubens, Jarno and Schumi getting off the grid.

      • kowalsky said on 2nd May 2011, 18:32

        i hope you are right. It would be fair. At china we saw webber still have good pace. At least for a good number two driver in a winning team.

    • codesurge (@codesurge) said on 2nd May 2011, 20:18

      They may not sack him if Schumi has a rethink this summer and finally decides to see out the final year of his contract as a test driver/mentor to his successor.

    • KateM (@katem) said on 2nd May 2011, 22:15

      I think Webber will leave Red Bull, it’s obvious he can’t compete with Vettel in both Red Bull preference and pace, I think he will go back to Williams, Barrichello may step down at the end of this season leaving a gap for him.

      I think very few top drivers would consider driving for Williams right now, particularly at Webber’s age. The historic name does not outweigh the fact that they are the worst of the established teams so far this year.

      Massa was leading the championship after 3 rounds last year, then 3 races later most people were linking his seat with Kubica and Webber. He’s not safe yet by a long shot.

    • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 3rd May 2011, 0:14

      Agreed RIISE.

      I think however that it would be foolish for Redbull to get rid of Webber and for Ferrari to get rid of Massa.

      The tight competition of 2010 has only carried over to 2011 and I suspect it will intensify until it plateaus next season before the 2013 rule changes.

      With Mclaren so competitive, and its drivers staying put it would be mad for Ferrari or Redbull to trade in Mark or Felipe for other drivers. They will need the consistent points to stay in the title race.

      This doesn’t even begin to answer the question of where they would find drivers as good as Webber and Massa to replace Webber and Massa with. The only drivers I see on or above their level already have established seats.

      Redbull and Ferrari wont want to take a chance on a rookie or an unproven driver when they have consistent point scorers and proven race winners already on their teams.

      People can talk all they want of team politics, tensions and rumors, but this is nothing more than that. Something we can all chew on for a bit until the next race gets here.

  3. Hamish said on 2nd May 2011, 12:33

    Quite amazing to think that the current F1 grid has 10 Grand Prix winners, and two of them drive for Lotus.

    • James said on 2nd May 2011, 12:37

      Lets not kid ourselves here though, Heikki only inherited that win when Massa’s engine decided to take up smoking

      • Hamish said on 2nd May 2011, 12:41

        Thats like saying Hamilton only won the title after Glocks tyres decided to not work.

        Whether you like it or not, regardless of when in the future you look at it, the winner of the 2008 Hungarian GP will always been Heikki Kovalainen.

      • slr said on 2nd May 2011, 12:45

        You have to finish first to finish first, Kovalainen could have gotten excited about winning and then binned it. He didn’t and he deserved the win.

    • Hamish said on 2nd May 2011, 12:37

      Another way of looking at it, F1 teams with both drivers as race winners:

      McLaren
      Ferrari
      Red Bull
      Lotus

      • Tyson Evans (@bobtehblob) said on 2nd May 2011, 14:12

        It’s actually hilarious when you look at it like that!

        • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 3rd May 2011, 0:24

          That is hilarious indeed!

          Mclaren: Hamilton-15, Button-9
          Ferrari: Alonso-26, Massa-11
          RedBull: Vettel-14, Webber-6
          Lotus: Trulli-1, Kovaleinen-1

          Barichello has 11
          and of course Schumacher has 91.

          I’ve always found the number of wins a driver or team has as a very telling statistic. For example, RedBull lags a ways behind Ferrari and Mclaren in number, but have won the nearly half the races of the past 2 years.

          From 161 starts Alonso has an impressive 26 wins, but in comparison, Schumacher had racked up a massive 52 wins by his 161st start at Monza in 2001.

      • Himmat S. said on 2nd May 2011, 14:41

        What a smack in the face. Quite literally.

        • Fixy (@fixy) said on 2nd May 2011, 15:51

          Kovalainen won a race with luck on an incredibly competitive car, Jarno won a race at the world’s toughest circuit with pole on a car that won that only race, against Michael Schumacher and the F2004.

      • Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 2nd May 2011, 16:28

        Wow… that does look pretty weird. Although, to put the stat into context, their drivers only have a win each, whereas Mercedes’d drivers, for eg, have 91 between them thanks to Schumacher!

      • Calum (@calum) said on 2nd May 2011, 17:51

        Schumacher and Rubens are the other 2 winners.

        • kowalsky said on 2nd May 2011, 18:36

          rosberg must be going crazy. He must be close to 100 gp’s without a win. He’s been around for ages!!!

          • HxCas (@hxcas) said on 2nd May 2011, 19:33

            He still has a way to go to catch up to Heidfeld

          • Abe said on 2nd May 2011, 20:14

            rosberg must be going crazy. He must be close to 100 gp’s without a win. He’s been around for ages!!!

            Well, spare a thought for Nick Lars Heidfeld… He is without a F1 race win since 2000… for over more than 170 GP’s…!!!

      • Krit said on 2nd May 2011, 18:17

        COTD.

  4. James said on 2nd May 2011, 12:34

    Assuming Red Bull will only promote from within, Mark Webber’s seat is probably quite safe. Buemi and Algusuari havent done too bad so far this season, although they’re not setting the world on fire at the same time. I reckon Mark will get one more year at Red Bull.

    Massa is a funny one. If he has a strong season this year, he’ll be steering a Ferrari around grands prix next year. However, if his early form fades, then I wouldnt be suprised if he gets the chop. Not sure who will replace him. Perez or Bianchi? Both are Ferrari’s development program. Massa’s injury highlighted the need for it, so it’ll be a chance to see how good their program is.

    Having said that, perhaps Webber might fancy a chance at Ferrari?? Although Ferrari dont often give out 1 year contracts, and I cant see why they would do so for Webber now that he’s getting toward the end of his F1 career.

    • RIISE (@riise) said on 2nd May 2011, 12:37

      Webber at Ferrari is an interesting one, he won’t be able to compete with Alonso but they are good friends.

      Webber in a Ferrari racing suit, doesn’t seem natural really.

      • James said on 2nd May 2011, 12:38

        True, but then Schumacher in grey overalls is quite odd too

      • DavidS (@davids) said on 2nd May 2011, 13:12

        he won’t be able to compete with Alonso

        Sounds like what many people said when Button went to McLaren, that he would be unable to compete with Hamilton, despite being reigning World Champion.

        • S.J.M (@sjm) said on 2nd May 2011, 14:52

          I think we need to ask, would Webber go from a Team that favours Vettel to a Team that favours Alonso. Im not so sure, but then they are one of the top teams and he’l get a better car then from most other teams.

          • Clay said on 2nd May 2011, 15:13

            I’ve thought this too. Mark might be of the mindset that given all that went on behind the scenes in 2010 at RBR a year in a Ferrari with a few wins and an outside shot at the title (never know what could happen to Alonso – Michael ’99???) and at the same time stuffing up Vettel’s title chances might sound pretty good!

            And really, who would not want to drive for ferrari at some stage of their career?

      • moondoggy said on 2nd May 2011, 20:08

        Webber in red, never going to happen. He’s unhappy about being number 2 to the squeaky German….what he be like being told to pull over for Alonso

        • unnnococooc said on 3rd May 2011, 3:47

          Why is everything doubting Webber to be able to compete with Alonso?

          Surely if Webber can’t keep up with Alonso then Massa should beat Vettel, (webber ~= vettel, alonso just better than massa).

          If they swap Massa would then be in the fastest car and beating vettel. doubt it.

          Webber I think wouldn’t be number 2 and would fight hard. Unlikely but possible

          • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 3rd May 2011, 7:49

            I would not mind seeing a Massa, Webber swap and then the next season the Redbull being so superior Massa beats both Ferrari drivers in the championship, Alonso so upset is then also beaten by Webber whose steely determination see’s him through the season.

            That would be a fantastic sight, but I just don’t see it panning out.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 2nd May 2011, 12:49

      But they might try something like that, if they are looking towards giving Perez another year to learn the ropes, or giving Bianchi at least a rookie year at some other team.

    • kowalsky said on 2nd May 2011, 18:42

      bianchi is not an option for next year. They don’t hire inexperienced drivers.
      Being massa the lukiest second driver in the history of the sport. Heis been at ferrari forever. I wouldn’t bet against him driving a ferrari in 2012. After that, i doubt it.

  5. slr said on 2nd May 2011, 12:41

    If Webber left Red Bull, I’m not sure Red Bull would go straight for either Buemi or Alguersuari. They’re both decent with Buemi having the edge over his team mate, but I think they need to challenge for points more often.

    I think Ferrari will end up keeping Massa, as long as his form doesn’t dramatically decrease.

    I think in terms of bringing a midfield driver into a top team, I’d say Kobayashi is the best choice, he’s quick, consistant and very entertaining. Heidfeld, Glock and Kovalainen could also be options. Perez and Di Resta need more time before they should be seriously considered.

    • Hamish said on 2nd May 2011, 12:44

      I think if anyway was to be on the up, it would be Timo Glock.

      All factors considered, hes done very well.

  6. mild7nick said on 2nd May 2011, 12:52

    I dont buy this “Red Bull only sign their own drivers” I still think there is a chance Hamilton will go there, it may well be that Red Bull sign him for 2013 thereby forcing Mclaren’s hand into releasing him early for 2012

  7. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 2nd May 2011, 13:02

    Ferrari may well get the short end of the stick here. If Massa leaves and there is another vacancy on the market – like Webber’s Red Bull seat – other drivers may be unwilling to walk into a team knowing they’ll be second fiddle to Alonso from Day One. That means Ferrari may be forced to do a McLaren circa 2008 and take the best driver available once all their first choices are gone, which means taking an inexperienced driver and compromising their WCC campaigns. They got caught with their pants down when they didn’t establish a young driver program until very recently, and they won’t put a rookie in the car without first running him through a customer team like Sauber. That could very well leave them in no-man’s land next year.

    • MinusTwo said on 2nd May 2011, 17:08

      I think its a bit far-fetched to think that Ferrari would end up with no options at all besides a rookie who has yet to make an F1 Debut.

      Kobayashi, Perez, Di Resta, Glock, Kovaleinen, Sutil… at one of those guys would jump at the chance to drive a red car, surely. Playing second fiddle to Alonso at Ferrari has to be a better gig than being number one at Virgin.

  8. f1fanboy said on 2nd May 2011, 13:04

    Ferrari///Perez for Massa-Goes back to Sauber with a Ferrari engine inside win, win situation for both teams.

    McLaren///No change.

    Mercedes///Di Resta for Schumacher-He retires and won’t have an option, Mercedes don’t need him anymore.

    Red Bull///Kobayashi for Webber-Goes to Force India, they need an experienced driver and will replace Sutil, Hulk to side along.

    Renault///Heidfeld for Petrov-Goes to Sauber with his money to replace Perez’s funding.

    Sauber///Explained above.

    Force India///Explained above.

    Toro Rosso///Ricciardo for Alguersuari-Test driver.

    Williams///No change.

    Lotus///Sutil for Trulli-Retires.

    Virign///No Change.

    HRT///Who knows?

    • Icemangrins said on 2nd May 2011, 14:47

      I don’t see any change in Mercedes next year…

      • f1fanboy said on 2nd May 2011, 15:20

        If schumi is the same as last year he’ll get the boot. Mercedes don’t care about his past results with Ferrari if he can’t pull off decent results with them. Nico is being treated a number 2 but driving like a plain old number one in my eyes so is Di Resta.

        If you can’t cut the mustard well then it’s bye bye F1 for Michael.

        • David A said on 2nd May 2011, 16:59

          The team still appear to be behind him and Nico, so he won’t get get the boot unless it actually gets worse.

          • f1fanboy said on 2nd May 2011, 18:13

            The day when Mercedes don’t need their reputation built up by Michael is the day he gets the boot for good.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 2nd May 2011, 18:51

            Which will come well after Schumacher’s third and final season.

          • f1fanboy said on 2nd May 2011, 19:32

            Ofc David keep thinking schumi wont get the boot by Mercedes this season.

            Mercedes is a FAR! bigger name then Schumacher and will gladly show everyone that if you don’t perform you’re gona go regardless who you are.

          • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 2nd May 2011, 19:57

            Mercedes is a FAR! bigger name then Schumacher

            Hysterical laughter for five minutes

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 3rd May 2011, 17:44

            I did what Icthyes did. Laugh at you.

    • moondoggy said on 2nd May 2011, 20:12

      Forgetting Kubica is never coming back. The guys hand came off at the elbow. Webber to Renault, Koba goes to Red Bull, I think the drink angle selling in Japan is worth serious thought.

      • lachy said on 3rd May 2011, 9:17

        i agree with this. After all red bull having an f1 team is purely a marketing based concept. Having been to japan red bull doesnt have as much of a presence as oppose to western countries. Koby driving for them would work wonders for the brand id say.

  9. Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 2nd May 2011, 13:08

    I don’t think Massa will get the boot. He’s driving better already this year and if he doesn’t want to leave, Ferrari won’t get rid of him. There isn’t really anyone who would be a guaranteed improvement.

    • I absolutely agree and even with Ferrari apparently focussing on Fernando I still don’t think he’d want to leave either.

      • Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 2nd May 2011, 14:34

        Who would replace Massa? All the candidates are either too much of a risk or no better than Felipe. Ferrari would only want rid of him if they could secure someone like Vettel, which won’t happen for years, if at all. Without Kubica’s accident there’d be a lot more pressure on Massa and maybe we’d have seen him lose his seat to Robert, but not anymore.

        On the other side even if Massa got fed up playing second fiddle to Alonso (which I don’t think he is, it’s a new season) who would take him? He’d maybe have an outside shot at Webber’s seat but that would depend on him leaving, if not he’d end up back in the midfield somewhere which I’m sure he doesn’t want.

        • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 2nd May 2011, 22:01

          Perez?

          • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 3rd May 2011, 8:19

            Perez has only had 3 GP’s. While he has impressed so far I really think people need to calm down with the Perez to Ferrari chatter.

            If you ran the most famous racing team in the world would you replace and 11 time GP winner with a rookie?

          • Adrian J said on 3rd May 2011, 10:58

            @Adam After Hamilton’s debut in 2007 I think team may be slightly less nervous about taking inexperienced drivers – rightly or wrongly.

          • @Adam After Hamilton’s debut in 2007 I think team may be slightly less nervous about taking inexperienced drivers – rightly or wrongly.

            Yerah but back then rookies had miles and miles of testing.

  10. Ram said on 2nd May 2011, 13:08

    I hope Trulli, Schumacher and Barichello will retire at the end of the year. They are last of their generation. And it’s time for them to leave.

    • Tyson Evans (@bobtehblob) said on 2nd May 2011, 14:45

      They truely are the last of their generation, but I reckon Schumacher will see out his contract with Mercedes and Barichello. Maybe another year or two? Despite his age, he’s still peforming for now and his experience is invaluable. Now Trulli. Trulli has never done anything at all.Ever.The only time he ever had a half decent car at renault. He was outperformed by Alonso and spat the dummy. The only thing he seems to be good at is holding up other cars. no one can peform the “trulli train” quite like he can!

      • Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 2nd May 2011, 15:56

        What? Trulli actually beat Alonso in terms on points in 2004. He was (and still is) one of the best qualifiers in the sport, which is the reason the ‘Trulli Train’ came about – because he’d often qualify out of position and then fall back in the race because the car wasn’t up to it.

        Granted, he can be a bit docile at times and the last couple of years he’s looked a bit disinterested, but the speed is still there. To say he hasn’t achieved anything is a bit much, especially considering the many outstanding performances he’s put in over the years.

        • RIISE (@riise) said on 2nd May 2011, 16:39

          Trulli actually beat Alonso in terms on points in 2004.

          No he didn’t, I don’t think Trulli has ever beaten Alonso over the course of the season.

          • slr said on 2nd May 2011, 20:05

            Trulli was hands down better than Alonso in the first half of 2004, by the time Trulli had left Renault he was still ahead of Alonso in the championship.

            Over the course of a full season Trulli beat Alonso in 2001, though that’s not a fair comparison.

          • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 3rd May 2011, 8:20

            Trulli beat Alonso in 2009.

        • kowalsky said on 2nd May 2011, 18:54

          he didn’t earn more points, and was sacked before the season ended. He won a race while alonso didn’t that year. He was very fast in qualy,(alonso’s weak point). He was a fast driver in the past, but he’s passed his sell by date long ago. Now he is even slower than kovi sometimes. Sad when you see a driver who doesnt know when to say enough.

          • RIISE (@riise) said on 2nd May 2011, 23:30

            Sad when you see a driver who doesnt know when to say enough.

            Barrichello springs to mind.

  11. Toro Stevo said on 2nd May 2011, 13:20

    If Webber isn’t at Red Bull, my money is on him retiring. He won’t be going to Williams, Force India or anybody else, with the exception of Ferrari – but they won’t be offering him a one year deal.

    As for whether he stays on or not, I think he’ll make the decision as late as possible.

  12. george79 said on 2nd May 2011, 13:23

    I’m worried about Kobayashi. He is maybe an entertaining driver but the DRS does the trick for everybody nowadays so unless he brings money for his current team he might find himself losing his seat. I don’t think the top five teams are interested in him. The risk is too big and no marketing value.

    • slr said on 2nd May 2011, 13:54

      Kobayashi is getting the results, I can’t see why he would lose his seat, it would be a great injustice if Kobayashi lost his seat due to lack of funds. The top team could well show an interest in the future if they need a new driver.

    • George (@george) said on 2nd May 2011, 15:16

      I’d say he has quite a lot of marketing value actually, as the only Japanese presence in F1 now (no teams, no tyres).

    • kowalsky said on 2nd May 2011, 19:00

      i see your point. The good overtakers lost their advantage now with the drs, just to please the public. It’s not right.
      Now you are talking he may need to find some cash to go to the next level.
      Everything is pushing me to motorcycle racing. There is pure racing, drama, injuries, danger, a less political enviroment. Please anybody tell what’s left in f1, that’s more exciting the motogp.

  13. Boomerang said on 2nd May 2011, 13:26

    Mark Webber is as quick as Vettel but he’s still paying dividends for last season careless statements like: “Not bad for number two driver…”
    Some people at the team taught him a lesson. He could have won last championship easily. I’m not sure they’ll let him go.
    Hopefully Mark will become quicker than his Tongue and keep his seat at Red Bull.

  14. McLarenFan said on 2nd May 2011, 13:29

    Predicted Line Ups:

    Red Bull – Vettel & Webber
    McLaren – Hamilton & Button
    Ferrari – Alonso & Massa
    Mercedes – Schumacher & Rosberg
    Renault – Kubica & Petrov
    Williams – Barrichello & Maldonado
    Force India – Di Resta & Sutil
    Sauber – Kobayashi & Perez
    Toro Rosso – Alguersuari & Ricciardo
    Lotus – Kovalainen & Trulli
    Virgin – D’Ambrosio & Glock
    HRT – Liuzzi & Karthikeyan

    • Tango said on 2nd May 2011, 14:53

      Very conservative bet on the line up i’d say!

    • S.J.M (@sjm) said on 2nd May 2011, 14:59

      So its 2011 season pre-Kubica crash?

      Not so sure myself, HRT have a revolving door policy and could have 2 different drivers in 12months.

      Virgin, in 90% certain that Glock will take the next offer made to him by any team whose infront of Virgin.

    • kowalsky said on 2nd May 2011, 19:02

      i agree, as long as everybody comes with their suitcases full of green.

  15. Mitch said on 2nd May 2011, 13:30

    I’m not sure Red Bull would be in too much of a hurry to fire Webber.

    Webber believe it or not is consistent. Even with his car problems in the first two races he still finished 5th and 4th respectively. He is experienced in a Newey built car and he knows the team extremely well.

    Webber’s results also appear to be improving with age. He has fallen short of Sebastian, but i’m not really sure the team want the drivers attacking each other every race for first and second. Red Bull is leading the drivers and constructors title, so their job is done.

    The only problem I foresee for Webber is relations with the team. Mark and Christian Horner own themselves a GP3 team together in MW Arden GP3 so they have to be fairly close. But Webber has complained about the management many times, and even this year made slip ups (stating that he is glad Vettel didn’t win).

    So really, there is not a better driver they could fill Webbers seat with. He can still challenge for wins, is experienced in the team, is very fit and arguably at the top of his game. It ultimately depends on whether his relations within the team are that good.

    My call? Its tough, but if he can pull a few race wins out in 2011, which he clearly has the pace to do so, I suspect he’ll be there come 2012.

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