Which drivers will say farewell to F1 after Brazil?

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Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber C31, Jerez, 2012Michael Schumacher start his final F1 race in this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

It’s always a pity to see a career reach its end. But at least Schumacher knows about his impending retirement. Others who are unsure whether they will be back in an F1 car after Sunday.

A sad consequence of the way F1 works is that drivers’ careers sometimes come to an end without the fanfare they deserve.

F1’s longest-serving Rubens Barrichello started his final Grand Prix in his home race last year, but at the time it was yet to be confirmed that he wasn’t returning.

Similarly when Jarno Trulli started his 252nd Grand Prix in the same race he was expected to return for Caterham this year. But over the winter he lost his seat to Vitaly Petrov.

This year doubt has been cast on the future of several drivers’ places in their current teams. Some teams will be looking for a change, others will be coveting drivers who bring more lucrative sponsors – and one might be about to disappear entirely.

Kamui Kobayashi

Kobayashi made his F1 race debut at Interlagos in 2009. His performance there and in Abu Dhabi persuaded Peter Sauber to give him a seat at Sauber for 2010.

He stood on the podium for the first time in his home race at Suzuka last month but he may find himself out of a seat at Sauber. Nico Hulkenberg will join the team next year and GP2 driver Esteban Gutierrez is strongly tipped to join him.

Bruno Senna

Williams’ desire to give track time to test driver Valtteri Bottas has seen Senna give up 14 appearances in first practice so far this year while team mate Pastor Maldonado hasn’t missed any.

That hasn’t helped Senna’s efforts to cut the qualifying deficit to his team mate. Senna may be only 14 points behind Maldonado in the championship, but he has not run as close to the front of the field as often as Maldonado has.

That and the support Bottas enjoys within the team means Senna’s future looks uncertain.

Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, Buddh International Circuit, 2012Kovalainen has driven well for Caterham this year, much as he has done for the same team in the previous two seasons.

Even so, there have been rumours about his future, connected to the team’s potential loss of tenth place in the constructors’ championship to Marussia and the significant loss of income they may suffer as a result.

Asked about the situation in India, Kovalainen said: “Nothing’s been signed for next [year] for myself yet.”

“Personally, my target and my focus is at each race weekend for our team it?s quite important that we try to regain that tenth position back from Marussia. It?s not going to be easy but I think we have to do whatever it takes to be in a position to do that if a freak race happens again.

“So, the main focus is on that and regarding the future with the team and with Tony, we haven?t decided yet. I think Tony knows what he gets with me but then he?s evaluating other options I think to see what he wants to do. And I?m waiting.

“In the meantime, of course, my management is also working. There?s nothing really to report but the main thing I think for myself and really for our team has to be to keep pushing to get that tenth position back, it?s quite crucial.”

Charles Pic

Pic’s two predecessors at Marussia (formerly Virgin) both lost their seats after single seasons. Last year Pic was announced as the replacement for Jerome D’Ambrosio barely three hours after the chequered flag fell on the season finale.

Max Chilton has been tipped as a potential replacement for Pic having driven for the team at the young drivers’ test and in first practice at Abu Dhabi. He is backed by insurance firm Aon: his father is a board member and they also back his brother Tom’s team in the World Touring Car Championship.

Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan

De la Rosa has a contract to drive for HRT next year but after the team was put up for sale will it even be on the grid?

Given that, doubts have to be raised whether he or Narain Karthikeyan will be race again in F1 after this weekend.

Over to you

At present 14 of the 24 seats potentially available for next year have been filled:

Which drivers do you think will not be returning after this weekend’s race? And who will arrive to take their places? Have your say in the comments.

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Image ?? Sauber F1 Team, Caterham/LAT

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147 comments on Which drivers will say farewell to F1 after Brazil?

  1. Kobayashi and Senna are one foot out the door if you ask me. Same for Petrov. Kamui will probably lose the seat to the Carlos Slim-backed Gutierrez, Senna to Bottas and Petrov to either Pic or Van Der Garde (I for one am hoping for the latter).

    Frankly I think Kovalainen will stay at Caterham. No matter what he says, he simply doesn’t have a better option. And neither does Fernandez. He’s the closest he can get to an uber-experienced driver. And with those prospects for an intensive partnership with Renault next season in sight, Heikki will stay at least for another season. Pic has a chance of sliding alongside him at Caterham unless Van Der Garde beats him to the seat, case in which, I reckon Pic will be gone as well, getting replaced with Chilton at Marussia.

    And that leaves the two HRT drivers. Now, to be honest, I think both drivers are already gone. HRT either gets sold to someone who will completely refurbish the team (incl. staff, drivers etc.) either it doesn’t and that means it’s the end of their motorsport adventure. I reckon De La Rosa could go back to McLaren as a test driver or perhaps take the same spot at Sauber alongside a very young Robin Frijns. Karthikeyan will probably try to have a go in IndyCar.

    The last big question mark is over the remaining Force India seat. Besides that it all looks quite clear to me.

  2. Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 21st November 2012, 20:32

    Bit surprised that you didn’t include Petrov in this Countdown to Doom, Keith. Surely his time has come as well.
    In truth, there’s two or three more current drivers that I’d say have reached their sell-by dates, but they’re being retained. Glock is one of them.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st November 2012, 23:10

      @timothykatz

      Surely his time has come as well.

      In nineteen racesthis year, Petrov has out-qualified Kovalainen six times, including four times in the past six or seven races. In the sixteen races they have both finished, Petrov has out-raced Kovalainen in nine of them. He’s proven himself to be a much more even match for Kovalainen than Jarno Trulli ever was.

      • Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 22nd November 2012, 8:09

        You may well be right about their respective results. But as Kovalainen *is* included in this article and since Petrov is allegedly out of sponsorship money, I am still surprised that Petrov isn’t in the article as well.

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 23rd November 2012, 10:55

          @timothykatz – According to his manager, Oksana Kossachenko, Petrov has agreed in principle to a deal for next year, but because of the eleventh hour nature of his Caterham deal this year, he can’t actually sign anything until after the Brazilian Grand Prix.

  3. Pedro Costa (@pnunocosta) said on 21st November 2012, 21:24

    Drivers that I wouldn´t miss much:
    – both HRT drivers
    – Glock (got beaten by a not very highly rated rookie)
    – Petrov (normal driver, only in F1 for his sponsorship)
    – Senna (normal driver, only in F1 for his sponsorship)
    – Webber (though I aprecciate a man that is not afraid to speak what he thinks)
    – Schumacher (the last 3 years Michael)

    • Fernando Cruz said on 21st November 2012, 22:39

      Petrov and Senna were both second (and race winners) in GP2, so they got to F1 on merit and not only for their sponsorship. The difference was that the Russian had 2 proper seasons with a midfiled team while Senna had only this year and losing 14 FP1, hurting qualifying and results as a consequence. He can improve a lot if he he is given a second proper season.

      • Pedro Costa (@pnunocosta) said on 21st November 2012, 22:52

        I partially agree with you they were GP2 winners (which for me doesn´t tell much, many have been and that doesn´t mean that they deserve to be with the best) and Senna was extremely prejudiced for not doing any FP1 (Austin is an example, he did FP1 and qualified easly and near his team mate) but the bottom line is that I don´t see them as race winners, they just don´t seem to have the skill to become great drivers.

        • Fernando Cruz said on 21st November 2012, 23:47

          Bruno Senna’s career was affected even more by the time he lost without a proper development, after losing the 2009 Brawn drive. Anyway I think he can still recover and become a race winner if he stays in F1 (at least in a midfield team) for the years to come. I reckon I like Bruno and I really believe he has a lot more to offer that what he could show until now, but he needs a second proper season to prove it in a more convincingly way.

          Well, your name being Pedro Costa I guess we are both Portuguese, am I wrong? In autosport.pt I use a nickname (Senna_f1) and in any other blogs I use my own name.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 23rd November 2012, 11:02

            If Senna was as good a driver to cut it in Formula 1 as you suggest, then missing out on the Brawn seat would not have had any effect on his career.

            And I doubt he would have thrived at Brawn the way you seem to think he would have. Button was in a league of his own in the BGP-001 – but Barrichello wasn’t.

          • Fernando Cruz said on 23rd November 2012, 19:35

            The main problem was missing the Brawn seat too late, at a time there were no seats available in GP2. That and not having (at the time) the sponsorship teams asked young drivers to get following the effects of financial crisis (thus missing to enter in 2010 with an established team) damaged his career massively, as he couldn’t develop at the same rate of other young drivers. I never thought he would be a great driver, but he was good enough to have a solid and good F1 career had he started at the right time with the right car. He surely would be a much better driver by now, much more developed.

            At Brawn he would be at the peak of his confidence and motivation, at 25, coming from a season with wins in GP2 and learning from a good and experienced driver like Button, a guy with a similar driving style. So, if the Brawn BGP 001 suited so well to Button, I guess it would suit as well to Bruno.

  4. sato113 (@sato113) said on 21st November 2012, 22:03

    @keithcollantine keith how do you know hamilton will be car number 7 next year? seems like mercedes are presuming him as their no.1 (i know it doesnt really mean that…) rosberg must be surprised.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 21st November 2012, 22:14

      @sato113 I haven’t said he is. I presume you’re referring to the 2013 F1 drivers page, where you’ll note the text says the numbers “will be determined” – i.e., they haven’t yet. Rosberg is listed as number eight because that’s what he drove this year.

  5. xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 21st November 2012, 22:36

    RBR: Vettel, Webber
    McLaren: Perez, Button
    Ferrari: Alonso, Massa
    Lotus: Raikkonen, Grosjean
    Mercedes GP: Hamilton, Rosberg
    Sauber: Hülkenberg, Kovalainen
    Williams: Bottas, Maldonado
    Force India: Senna, Petrov
    Toro Rosso: Ricciardo, Vergne
    Caterham F1: Di Resta, Wickens
    Marussia: Pic, Glock
    HRT: Probably won’t be on the grid next year.

  6. TED BELL said on 21st November 2012, 22:50

    I wonder if Formula One will celebrate Michael Schumacher in some fashion at the end of this weekends race. I wasn’t old enough to see Fangio, Farina or Ascari race. Didn’t see Moss either but was fortunate to see Jimmy Clark and pretty much everyone since then. We are living at the time when the greatest of them all is now ready to step aside and let this next generation of very good race car drivers scratch their own marks into the history books.

    To have seen MS from the beginning and now as the end nears makes me wonder how we as fans, the media as the teller of his tale and those who with keen interest have witnessed what this one man has accomplished during his time behind the wheel and how all of us should say thanks for all he has done for our sport. His records should stand the test of time. His accomplishments will forever be a marker on how to get the job done. His rivals know that he presented challenges that no one else ever had. Some got the best of MS too, but that was few and far between.

    I would love to see at the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix all who were still running stop at the start finish line off to the side and let Schumacher have one final parade lap alone so that those who were there, those watching at home and all of the teams collect themselves and wait for Schumacher to come back to the start finish one final time as a tribute to the man himself.

    I think it would be a great moment for Formula One and I am confident there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house. We are so fortunate to witness this guys career and to recognize him in this fashion could be the PR move of the year. Bernie loves the PR and this one could be an all timer….

    Thank you Michael

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd November 2012, 0:04

      Seeing as he’s already retired once I doubt they’ll lay it on too thick.

      • (Tongue-in-cheek) I think the Interlagos guys want to stress on the word ‘final’ in that farewell, because they don’t want to bid him a third goodbye, it would be hard on their resources.
        P.S.: I am a Schumi fan.

    • Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 22nd November 2012, 8:19

      Ooh dear. I don’t really think so. Schumacher has also left a fairly bitter taste in the mouths of a few people and fans, so I don’t think there will be a sort of valedictory parade. Some people might rejoice along the lines of “Thank goodness he’s finally going”, and “Why did he ever come back anyway?”.
      One last thing; are you sure he was “ready to step aside”? I thought he got binned.

    • I doubt they’ll do it but that would be brilliant to see.

  7. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 21st November 2012, 23:21

    I’ll really be very sad if this will end up being Kobayashi’s last race. :(

  8. Blog Sexta Marcha (@blogsextamarcha) said on 22nd November 2012, 1:30

    Kobayashi to Force India! Why not?

    • At this stage, I would prefer he leave Sauber and join Lotus, Force India or Williams. I think he would do well with a change. We will find out the situation by Sunday as Sauber plan to announce their 2nd driver during the weekend.

  9. No, Petrov on this list..that is strange, although there is next to no chance he’ll start next season on the grid. It might not be a final farewell though because Oksana Kosachenko seemed certain that they would participate at the Russian GP in Sochi due in 2014. Vyborg ‘Rocket’ is probably taking a financial sabbatical.
    Kovalainen and Kobayashi are in big trouble. Pic is less so possibly because he has been in talks with another team, whereas the above two are trying to stay in their own teams next year.
    Thing is, Caterham want to go places next year, but how will dumping Heikki and replacing him with van der Garde help? The latter has taken several years to win a GP2 race and is a contemporary of Hamilton, so he’s not young either. And anyone can outperform Rodolfo Gonzalez, it doesn’t take a Herculean effort.
    Also, di Resta’s seat is yet to be confirmed and it gives me a feeling that his recent bitterness and under-performing streak is not just w.r.t. his teammate or the lost opportunity to sign for McLaren, I think that his seat is TBC as well.

    • Kimi4WDC said on 22nd November 2012, 23:03

      Oksana Kosachenko is one of the worst managers there is. If she actually did do some work instead of relying on their childhood connection, Vitaliy would have been enjoying PDSVA or Telmex like backing, and would be getting podiums as he already proved he can, instead he is in Caterham…..

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 23rd November 2012, 11:00

        … I’m sorry, what?

        Why would PDVSA or Telmex want to sponsor a Russian driver? They’re from Venezuela and Mexico – they want Venezuelan and Mexican drivers.

        Petrov had the option of entering negotiations with Williams this year. But he chose not to, because the team was talking to Raikkonen, Sutil and Senna, and he didn’t want to get hung up on negotiating with them and neglecting other teams where he stood a better chance of joining up. If he had known that his only real competition for the seat was Bruno Senna, then he might have pushed harder – but since Renault didn’t let him go until they knew they had Raikkonen in the bag, he had very few options once he finally became a free agent and had to work with what he was given.

  10. In Austin I actually realized Senna isn’t a bad driver. He might not be one of the best and there are drivers outside F1 who are definitely better, but I don’t think he’s been so bad as to not have deserved this time in F1.
    Pic has been very good in his first year but that may not be enough; and at the same time we might have not seen the best of him so it should be easier to see him leave, and with Chilton in the pipelines it seems likely.
    Kobayashi should definitely stay but, although I’m sure Sauber would pick him over Gutierrez, or they’d’ve confirmed the Mexican a while ago, I fear they will be forced to drop him if he fails to bring sponsorship. It would be a pity, after his first podium this year, and considering he has contributed in making race more interesting during his career.
    I was sure Kovalainen would have beaten Petrov easily but that hasn’t been the case, and if Caterham were to drop one of the two it could likely be the Finn as I think the Russian has more money.
    I sincerely hope HRT can make it onto the 2013 grid but I fear for them and although they haven’t brought a significant improvement to F1 they have had two great liveries in the past two years. ;) I hope we’ll have 12 teams next year, if not with HRT I hope someone can buy it.
    And definitely I’ll miss Schumacher, though I missed him during these years as well as he wasn’t able of fighting with the front-runners.

    • Fernando Cruz said on 22nd November 2012, 22:07

      “In Austin I actually realized Senna isn’t a bad driver. He might not be one of the best and there are drivers outside F1 who are definitely better, but I don’t think he’s been so bad as to not have deserved this time in F1.”

      Bruno Senna had a lot more to offer to F1 had he started at the right time, the year after his last season in GP2. Had he started with Brawn he probably would have won races in his rookie year and he would be a much better driver by now, much more developed. In junior categories he showed more talent and had better results than a guy like Damon Hill, so he deserved more to race with Brawn in 2009 than Hill deserved to race with Williams in 1993.

      Anyway he can still find a good seat for 2013 and who knows if he can still recover the ground he lost these last few years? In races he is already as good as most of the grid and having FP1 to himself he can recover his 2011 qualifying form. If he stays with a midfield maybe he can still become a race winner in the years to come.

  11. My predictions for the unfilled/unconfirmed seats 2013:

    Williams – Maldonado + Bottas
    Force India – Di Resta + Alguesuari
    Caterham – Senna + Pic
    Marussia – Glock + Chilton
    Sauber – Guttierez
    Lotus – Grosjean
    HRT – Doubt they’ll be on the grid but if they are: De La Rosa + Ma

    I hope Kamui and Heikki get kept on but I doubt it’ll happen due to lack of funds and I also hope that Frijns picks up a test/reserve seat if not a race seat because he could be a very exciting prospect…

  12. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 23rd November 2012, 8:13

    It’s not looking good for Heikki :( You can blame Marussia for that I guess! Whilst on the subject of Marussia, I don’t have much faith in them retaining Pic. I like Pic, he seems like a trouble free driver and he competes well with Glock.

    I think Kobayashi will be safe. Sauber would do well to carry forward their performance this year with a known quantity.

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