Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Valencia, 2012

Vettel-Ferrari rumours add new dimension to 2013 driver market

2013 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Valencia, 2012During the European Grand Prix weekend Ferrari raised the prospect of Sebastian Vettel joining Fernando Alonso in the future.

Are the rumours credible? And how might they affect the 2013 F1 driver market? Here’s a look at the state of play for next year.

Ferrari courting Vettel

Just over a year ago Ferrari announced Fernando Alonso will remain with them until at least 2016. Immense speculation has surrounded the identity of his future team mate.

It seems unlikely Ferrari will continue to tolerate the under-performance of Felipe Massa, who at the time of writing has 11 points in the championship – less than one-tenth of Alonso’s points haul.

It would be quicker to list the drivers who haven’t been tipped as potential replacements for Massa as some journalists have seemingly named potential successors based on nothing more than how good their name will look in a headline.

But it was Ferrari themselves who sparked the most interesting recent rumour about their future driver line-up when team principal Stefano Domenicali said Alonso could “coexist” with reigning world champion Vettel.

Not surprisingly, some have already taken this remark a step further, insisting Ferrari have already inked a deal with Vettel for 2014.

If true, that places the team in something of a quandary for next year, as they require a seat-warmer. In the absence of any likely candidates for a driver who might join the team for one year on the understanding he’d be replaced by Vettel afterwards, this brings us back to Massa. Might Ferrari eke out his deal for just one more season until they can have their Alonso-Vettel dream team?

Whatever the situation, it is encouraging that Ferrari are apparently trying to seize the two of the best drivers in F1 today, instead of hiring a subservient ‘number two’ driver.

Hamilton’s McLaren future

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Valencia, 2012Next month Lewis Hamilton will make the 100th start of his Formula 1 career in the German Grand Prix. So far, all of them have been with McLaren. But is that about to change?

McLaren tied Hamilton down to a lucrative five-year contract shortly after he made his F1 debut with them. But group chairman Ron Dennis has indicated Hamilton will have to accept less favourable terms on his next deal due to economic downtime in the intervening period.

Nonetheless Hamilton continued to make positive noises about his McLaren future during last week’s pre-race press conference and played down Dennis’s words: “Ron is a very tough negotiator.

“He was very tough when they negotiated the contract that I have now and I expect him to be the same when we go back in. I don?t see there being many problems, to be honest.”

Hamilton has said in the past his commitment to McLaren is partly dependent on them giving him a sufficiently competitive car. This they have certainly done – the MP4-27 won the first race of the season – but the team has let him down in other ways, with a series of calamitous pit stop blunders.

If he were to go, where would he move to? It’s hard to believe he might end up at Ferrari with Alonso despite his former team mate’s claim he would be happy to reunite.

But a move to Red Bull could make a lot of sense – especially if they find themselves needing a replacement for Vettel.

Team mate Jenson Button renewed his McLaren contract last year. The team vaguely described it as a “multi-year” contract but team principal Martin Whitmarsh later let slip it is a three-year deal.

Mercedes: Will Schumacher stay?

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Valencia, 2012When Michael Schumacher returned to F1 in a three-year deal with Mercedes in 2010 it was with the stated aim of competing for the world championship.

That it has taken him this long to step back on the podium is a reflection on the fact things haven’t gone entirely to plan, but progress is being made.

As Schumacher nears the halfway point in his 18th full season of F1 it is up to him how long he wishes to remain in the sport’s top flight. His ‘phantom pole’ in Monaco shows he still has the pace and the rustiness in his racecraft that was evident in 2010 and 2011 appears to have faded.

Nico Rosberg signed a new “multi-year” contract with the team in November.

Midfield moves

Who goes where in the midfield will be determined in the first instance by whether any enticing vacancies open up among the top teams.

Kimi Raikkonen has another year on his Lotus contract and expect the impressive Romain Grosjean to be retained alongside him.

Vijay Mallya gave a strong endorsement to his two drivers recently, telling the official Formula 1 website: “I think we have two potential world champions in this team. They are both exceptionally talented. I am very delighted to have them.”

However it’s not hard to envisage Mercedes going shopping for a new driver at their engine customer, if it turns out they need one. That would in turn give them a chance to elevate one of the promising drivers from their DTM programme: such as reigning Formula Renault 3.5 champion Robert Wickens or Formula Three Euro Series and International Trophy champion Roberto Merhi.

Bruno Senna is yet to get on the pace of team mate Pastor Maldonado at Williams. That and the promise shown by test driver Valtteri Bottas in his practice outings have led some to draw the inevitable conclusion that Bottas is destined for Senna’s seat. But we’re to even halfway through the season yet, and it’s far too soon to make a call on that.

On the outside looking in is Jaime Alguersuari, who wrote in his BBC column today: “I am pretty sure I will be driving in F1 again next year with a good team. Everything is looking very good at the moment.” The one team we can expect he won’t be joining is Toro Rosso.

Although Mark Webber’s Red Bull contract is up for renewal, it’s doubtful either of their junior team’s drivers will get a call-up for next year. Expect Toro Rosso to stick with their current pairing for 2013. As usual, there is upcoming talent in the Red Bull Development Driver pipeline, but it’s hard to see any of the latest crop being ready for next year.

Sadly, there remains no sign of when or whether Robert Kubica will be sufficiently recovered from his injuries to make a return to F1.

Over to you

Who will go where next year? Do you believe the Vettel-to-Ferrari rumours?

Will Hamilton stay at McLaren? And what will Schumacher do? Have your say in the comments.

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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images, McLaren/Hoch Zwei, Daimler/Hoch Zwei

128 comments on “Vettel-Ferrari rumours add new dimension to 2013 driver market”

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  1. I am personally of the opinion that Seb will at least see out 2014 with Red Bull. The 2014 rules shakeup will bring about a new set of design regulations with it, and new packaging for the rear of the car. Where has Mr. A. Newey shone in the past? Rule changes. 2014 could see another 2010 or 2011-like year for Red Bull, and I think Seb knows that, unless someone pulls a Brawn and brings up a loophole that gives them massive laptime like the double diffuser.

    The 2014 Red Bull chassis is going to be mighty – the class of the field I daresay.

    However the big unknown is the engine, both from a cost perspective as well as competitive aspect.

    1. I would love to see Audi enter as engine supplier to wreck the competition in 2014 :)

      In my eyes Renault will be the safest bet to deliver competitive engine with new regulations.

      1. Hard to say. We need to see who on the current field has a 1.6L V6 turbo engine – that will at least give some indication as to who’s experienced at building a performance engine with said specifications.

        @Kimi4WC I’m an audihead, as my avatar shows – and a competitive Audi in F1, with Vettel at the wheel, is a wet dream come true.

      2. themagicofspeed (@)
        29th June 2012, 10:37

        I think Mercedes in Brixworth will probably not be far away. The Mercedes engine is generally thought to be the best in F1 at the moment, followed by the Renault, and then the Ferrari last.

  2. Firstly, let’s talk about Ferrari.

    Alonso is the lead driver and as proven last week, has a substantial say in driver line up. Taking that into consideration, he would be having a say in other fields as well regarding development. He has sort of become a part of the management at Ferrari.

    Taking this into consideration, Vettel going to Ferrari seems unreal. That will ruffle Fernando’s feathers at Ferrari, whom he considers to be his spiritual home. I think Vettel might move to Ferrari post Alonso era or during the sunset years of Fernando and I certainly don’t see Fernando retiring in 2016.

    Secondly, I am slightly baffled by Lewis’ situation. If we assume that Red Bull might want to sign up Lewis, considering the rumors, it won’t be before 2014. His McLaren contract is up for renewal this year and certainly don’t think that McLaren would be happy to sign a 1 year extension with Lewis. That leaves Lewis in a tricky situation if he is targeting RBR.

    I personally see Vettel at Ferrari post 2014 and Hamilton extending his contract with McLaren. Only when Vettel goes red, Hamilton will have wings.

  3. I don’t bealive Αlonso would like to have Vettel as a team mate whatever he sais! Neither Vettel would like Alonso who actually build the team around him..If Ferrari ends Massa I cas see 2 “senarios”;
    1) Weber or Alguersuari (who is from Spain as well) could possibly sign 1/2 year contract until Perez grow up (so the prezident will be happy:P)
    2) Having Perez straigth from this season(!) and have him ready for next year’s season!
    About Hamilton, the only reason that he could leave McLaren is Adrian Newey and I see this prospect way difficult! Remember Hamilton calling RBR just “drinks”.
    Of course all these are my thoughts as a simple spectator!

  4. Vettel to Ferrari seems unlikley. It was probably a diversion tactic to talk up the brand in difficult times and fire a shot across the bow of Ecclestone and the FIA that Ferrari is F1 and can control the big names in the sport. Ever since around 1996 Ferrari has always put their weight behind a number 1 driver in order to maximise drivers championship chances. I read on Joe sawards blog that Webber to replace Massa next year is a possible move and I agree likely to help them consistently challenge for the constructors championship. With the rolling one year contracts he has essentially been keeping a seat warm for a Torro Rosso driver.

    Hamilton will stay at Mclaren is he is still in with a great chance for the drivers title in coming months and has won more races. If not then he’ll most likely go to Mercedes in place of Schumacher. Norbert Haug had the priviledge of watching Hamiltons rise and early F1 years from the same garage before 2010. Brawn said he wanted Schumacher to stay as long as he is competitive. Competitive in terms of speed or points? Although he brings great value to the Mercedes business overall, the best way to build brand strength through F1 is to win races and championships. If Hamilton stays at Mclaren then Di resta may get the drive due to existing Mercedes links.

    Vettel will stay at Red Bull as long as he is winning and challenging for the title and there is no other team that is dominating. If not he won’t go to Ferrari until Alonso has moved on. If Hamilton is not already there, Mercedes (assuming they are competitive) would be the obvious choice in future as they would surely love to have the top German driver in F1 in the team.

  5. themagicofspeed (@)
    28th June 2012, 22:10

    I’ll do my best to predict, for 2013, and 2014. This is without dream/fantasy what i think might happen:
    I havent included the bottom teams, because lets face it, who cares?

    Ferrari: Alonso (has contract), with Massa. I dont see them having any viable alternative. LDM has already said he wants to see Perez gain more results and experience before he drives in red, and the other young and talented drivers are either contracted or fall under the same argument.
    Mercedes: Rosberg, Schumacher. I dont think Schumi is ready to give it up yet, and despite the lack of results relative to Nico, i dont think Mercedes will have any problem signing another cheque, just because its Michael Schumacher. hes popular, and most importantly, this old dog isnt out of new tricks just yet.
    Red Bull: Vettel (has 2013 contract) with Webber again. I dont see any reason for Webber to move on from the fastest team of the last few years, and as long as he continues to bring points for Red Bull’s campaign for the constructor’s championship, and be a good rear gunner for Vettel, RBR wont mind keeping him. As far as drivers are concerned, Vettel seems to be their preferred driver to back for an attempt at the WDC, because he’s already done it twice.
    McLaren: Hamilton and Button (Button has contract for 3 years from 2012). Another thing people may find surprising, I dont think Hamilton will depart McLaren. He wont fit in at Ferrari, RBR is full, and Mercedes also, meaning the only other option is less competitive teams. Button already has a 3 year deal.
    Lotus: Raikkonen on a 2 year deal until end of 2013, and i think Grosjeans 2012 performances will be enough to land him another deal for 2 years or so, unless he majorly messes up the 2nd half of 2012.

    Ferrari: Alonso, and either Vettel, Webber, Perez (depending on his 2012-13 results) or Di Riesta.
    I dont think it will be LH for sure. I have a strong feeling RBR will block Vettel going to Ferrari and get him under contract with them for a long time. Webber could end up at Ferrari to fill Massa’s #2 status because he can be an invaluable asset in helping rack up constructors points behind Alonso’s WDC challenge. Perez could graduate to Ferrari if LDM approves by then. As an outsider, Di Riesta could land a seat if all others fail, as Domenicalli and LDM seem to like him.
    Mercedes: Rosberg and Di Riesta if he doesnt end up at Ferrari.
    I dont think MSC will carry on beyond 2013, as he wlill be 45 before the 2014 season begins, and will have realised he is probably not going to be able to win again in F1. I predict his retirement at the end of 2013.
    Red Bull: Assuming Vettel goes to Ferrari: Raikkonen and Webber..assuming Webber goes to Ferrari, Vettel and Vergne if he matures into a decent driver.
    I dont think Raikkonen will be interested in being #2 to Vettel, and I think RBR would be wise to pick a replacement for Webber from within should he leave, and the most promising RBR – supported driver is Vergne. I can see Raikkonen filling Vettel’s seat in 2014 though if VET departs, due to his previous ties to Red Bull.
    McLaren: Hamilton will probably stay at McLaren until the end of his career. Despite his frustrations, he is too at home at McLaren to move elsewhere; probably no other team would tolerate his diva-fits and whining over the radio. Button will be in the final year of his 3 year deal in 2014.
    Lotus: Assuming Raikkonen departs for the 2014 season, Grosjean, if he stays in Boullier’s good books, will be promoted. Boullier will probably pick one of the young drivers he manages to fill the vacant seat.

    Well, thats my predictions.

  6. Wow, I can’t believe no one has seen this yet.

    Webber WILL dictate the field for next year. The question is:

    Will he stay or will he go? He’s in the hottest property in F1 at the moment.

    Massa will be on the way out, he may take a seat in the mid-low end teams to boost experience for the younger drivers.

    Webber has been linked with a move to Ferrari, but why would he leave RBR? It would need to be a pretty good deal.

    Hamilton will stay at Mercedes, I think he’s just looking for extra money. The team has been unkind to him, not his fault but will that be enough for him to consider leaving the UK super power team? I think not.

    The last big spot to consider is Michael Schumacher’s spot. I think he’s safe, unless one of the mid level drivers can do well in the second half of the season to take his spot.

    3 rounds from the finish, we will start seeing more rumours and hopefully some pen to paper.

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