Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Young Drivers' Test, Silverstone, 2013

Ricciardo deal sets 2014 driver market in motion

2014 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Young Drivers' Test, Silverstone, 2013With Daniel Ricciardo’s move to Red Bull finally official, the first domino has toppled in the 2014 driver market.

The question now is how long a chain reaction is it going to set off, and who else will be occupying a new seat come the start of the 2014 F1 season.

No Red Bull for Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen is known to have been in the running for a Red Bull seat. He was associated with Red Bull during his brief spell in the World Rally Championship, so why did they pass up the chance form a stellar line-up of two world champions?

Chief technical officer Adrian Newey said: “We could have taken an experienced driver, somebody guaranteed to deliver to a relatively known level, or equally we could take on a much younger driver in the hope that they?ll develop to a very high level.”

“We looked at the latter option and concluded that of the younger drivers, Daniel is the most promising.”

Anyone who’s listened to Ricciardo’s lengthy, painstaking debriefs on the Toro Rosso team radio during practice sessions will know his technical feedback is of a high standard. Red Bull have had many chances to evaluate Ricciardo since his first test for the team in 2009 and this key strength of his likely to be one Newey values highly, especially with a major change in the technical rules coming into force next year.

And Newey, who previously worked with Raikkonen at McLaren, is well-placed to know testing is not an activity the 2007 world champion relishes.

No doubt other factors will have figured: Ricciardo will have been cheaper to hire and easier to sign to a long-term contract. As Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost admitted, his hiring “vindicates” the company’s investment in a driver development programme which is far greater in scope than anything their rivals undertake.

And then there is the question of Vettel’s say in the matter. Christian Horner has previously said Vettel would not dictate his choice of team mate. However reports in the German press claimed Vettel indicated a preference for Ricciardo.

Where now for Raikkonen?

Kimi Raikkonen, GP3, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013In the view of at least one rival team principal, Raikkonen is looking for a way out of Lotus.

The team lack the resources of their bigger rivals – their budget is estimated to be little more than half that of Ferrari – and although they have made excellent use of what they have, they will have to keep doing so to persuade Raikkonen to stay.

“Kimi wants to be assured that we have everything in place to tackle the significant changes we will see in the sport next year,” said team principal Eric Boullier. “We?re working hard to assure him that Lotus F1 Team is where he should be and piece by piece we are getting all our ducks in a row.”

With Red Bull and Mercedes’ driver line-ups complete for next year, Raikkonen’s only remaining options outside of Lotus which might represent a step forward for him would mean a return to a former team: McLaren or Ferrari.

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh admitted in a recent interview he’s a “fan” of Raikkonen and had talks with the driver last year about returning to the fold. But this may just have been him sending a message to Jenson Button following his driver’s public remarks about his 2014 contract not being signed yet.

And whether there might be a space for him at Ferrari depends on whether they’ve finally run out of patience with Raikkonen’s former team mate Felipe Massa.

Massa’s future at Ferrari

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2013Now in his eighth season at Ferrari and his fourth since his 2009 crash, Massa’s days of being a championship competitor are rapidly fading from memory.

Last year was his worst yet alongside Fernando Alonso, scoring a miserable 43.8% of his team mate’s points tally, which he has barely improved on so far this year.

The rumours of Alonso going to Red Bull looked fanciful even before yesterday’s announcement. He is contracted to Ferrari until 2016.

So far Ferrari have been willing to indulge his preference for having a strict number two team mate and there has been no sign yet that is about to change. Bringing back Raikkonen – the driver Alonso replaced – would be an astonishing volte-face on more than one count.

But perhaps the time has come for Ferrari to find a Ricciardo of their own – an up-and-coming driver who has F1 experience and can handle the pressures of driving for the world’s most famous racing team.

Nico Hulkenberg might fit the bill as Massa could be traded back to Sauber, the Ferrari-powered team he joined them from in 2006. Though Hulkenberg may be considered a bit too good to be a number two to Alonso, the team indicated last year they need a driver of sufficient experience.

Sergio Perez, in his second F1 season at the time, was considered not experienced enough. Hulkenberg, in this third season, might, while Ferrari development driver Jules Bianchi has only made 11 starts for Marussia.

Ferrari have said they won’t make an announcement about their future drivers at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix. Much of the rest of the driver market is likely to begin moving once their decision is known – with one exception:

Ricciardo’s replacement

Antonio Felix da Costa, Red Bull, Shanghai, 2013The significance of Ricciardo’s move is that it is the first time Red Bull have promoted from within since Sebastian Vettel moved up from Toro Rosso at the end of 2008. The vacancy created at Toro Rosso will inevitably be taken by the next young hopeful on their Driver Development Programme.

Formula Renault 3.5 racer Antonio Felix da Costa has to be the favourite for the seat.

After a hugely impressive 2012, which involved splitting his efforts between that series and GP3, luck has deserted him so far this year. But Da Costa remains the leading light of the programme and has previously tested for Red bull. It would be a surprise if he were passed over for the next driver in line.

That would by Carlos Sainz Jnr, son of the two-times World Rally Champion of the same name, who impressed when he tested for Red Bull at Silverstone. He is likely to get a Toro Rosso seat eventually, though the indication from Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko is that Jean-Eric Vergne will be driving an STR9 next year.

Tost said Toro Rosso will not hurry the decision on who succeed Ricciardo: “We will now look at all our options and make a decision at a later date, as there is no immediate need to rush.”

Over to you

How do you expect the rest of the driver market for 2014 to unfold? Have your say in the comments.

See the current list of 2014 F1 drivers and teams

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Images ?? Red Bull/Getty, GP3/LAT, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

112 comments on “Ricciardo deal sets 2014 driver market in motion”

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  1. There are soo many drivers I want to see in F1 next year.
    Let’s start with Ferrari: Alonso will stay, of course, but I think that Massa will be kicked out of the team. From what I understand Hulkenberg and Raikkonen are battling for that seat. I hope it goes to Hulkenberg, because otherwise I don’t see a place for him in F1 and he really deserves a top team seat. It would be disappointing to see Kimi stay at Lotus, but whatever.

    Then there’s GP2. There are a lot of competitive drivers. Coletti, Nasr, Leimer, Bird and Calado are quite close to each other in the championship. I still think that the battle is going to be between Coletti and Nasr, but we’ll see. Calado will probably go to Force India, someone says that Nasr will go to Toro Rosso (but it won’t be the case, in my opinion). Sadly, I don’t see Coletti, Leimer or Bird in F1. I’m quite sad for Coletti, I didn’t expect him to do so well this year. He has had a couple of awful weekends, but his season, overall, has been strong.

    I think Antonio Felix Da Costa will go to Toro Rosso. There’s no reason to pick Sainz Jnr or Nasr over him, in my opinion.

    I’d love to see Frijns in F1 next year, but he is barely in GP2. Magnussen and Vandoorne have impressed me, but there are not enough teams for all of these drivers, I’m afraid.

    1. I agree if after three years have not got even a podium let’s get new blood, move up or move out, top teams dont guarantee great cars anyway.
      2012 GP2 champ is also waiting for a chance,
      Grosjean will be great at Ferrari he can complain less than kimi, qualifies at top and now has experience.
      Kimi to Mclaren with Perez will be great fight.
      Lotus Hulkenberg-Valsecchi

      Pastor, Paul, Pic out

  2. What I can’t comprehend is why everyone is so certain Kimi will even be in F1 next year. Call me silly, but I believe it is on his terms what he does as he already has a guaranteed drive. RedBull couldn’t meet his demands maybe? Lotus isn’t paying him (so the media portray) or giving him the package he requires to win, nor does it seem they can. Ferrari are prancing like the horse they are, not ready to upset the applecart that Alonso rides in or further break the inconvincing stride of Massa (they could just be gagging the horse of course), Mercedes seats are filled (unless Nico gets shunted) and no other team has anything worth considering for a driver of his pedigree. With the new regs next year, every team is considered a gamble anyhow. Will it be another unsuccessful return to F1 by a former champ? He can either leave now and pursue rallying, motocross or whatever he chooses or stay runner up and leave F1 again. We may have another vacancy before we know it! One thing is for sure, if Kimi stays it has to be worth his while.

  3. He definitely isn’t a DeRestable fan.

  4. Why don’t Red Bull (the whole company, not the F1 team) inject more money in Toro Rosso to have an up-in-the-midfield team? Having TR’s drivers more on the mix could diagnose faster if they deserve a hot spot or not.

    1. Let’s see what happens next year when they have the same engine and drivetrain as the Red Bull, and James Key having fully developed the car from scratch. I predict they may have a better year next year than many of the other midfield teams.

  5. If there is no top seat for P.DiResta soon, I will be sad and shocked. This guy beat Vettel in 2006. Yes, THAT Vettel! Top teams can’t be that blind, can they?

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      3rd September 2013, 20:53

      That point doesn’t hold up because Di Resta was beaten in both of his years in F1.

  6. I would love to see Kimi at Ferrari next season, but don’t believe it will happen. Ferrari like Massa and have proved that for years now by keeping him for this long even if the F1 media disapproves. There are big changes for F1 next season, keeping Massa alongside Alonso will be a constant in a season of change. They know what they have in Massa. LDM has stated he would like to see Massa with Ferrari in 2014 even though he included his wish for better results. Rehiring Kimi at Ferrari might make sense for scoring more points in the short term, but especially for someone like LDM, it would have to be choked down like yesterday’s wine. Not likely.

    So, Kimi will probably stay with Lotus for next season pushing the team for the best car possible under difficult circumstances technically and financially. It’s not a bad gamble. Budget may not be the best indicator for which team gets it right the quickest in 2014. Look at McLaren and their struggles in 2013 with well known and established regs in place. Stranger things have happened, but not likely Kimi will go to McLaren given the current situation. 2015 might be more likely with the promise of Honda and another season to see if the Perez experiment pans out.

    Another seat to speculate on would be Maldonado at Williams. How many more wrecks and bad decisions without taking responsibility can Williams tolerate. Maldonado is supposed to be the veteran driver on the team, but keeps making rookie mistakes. There are too many other good drivers available to fill that seat without the constant mistakes. The car is lacking this season for sure, but at least Bottas has been able to keep his on the track most of the time. Williams could thank Maldonado for his service at the end of the season and then hire Bianchi or another young driver with promise.

  7. LotsOfControl (@for-unlawful-carnal-knowledge)
    3rd September 2013, 18:30

    I just hope Kimi doesn’t end up doin NASCAR next year.

  8. Redbull – Vettel & Riccardo
    Mercedes – Hamilton & Rosberg
    Mclaren – Button & Perez
    Ferrari – Alonso & Raikkonen
    Lotus – Maldonado(with his ££) & Hulkenberg
    Torro Rosso – Vergne & Sainz Jr
    Force India – Sutil & Di Resta
    Sauber – Massa & Sirotkin
    Williams – Grosjean & Bottas
    Caterham – Pic & Van der Garde
    Marussia – Bianchi & Chilton

  9. It is high time “The Hulk” got a good drive. And move to Ferrari will be the reason I might support them :)

  10. Kubica in Ferrari. Finally.

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