The recent rumours regarding a Webber-Ferrari scenario and PM’s recent mid-season driver replacement thread has prompted the F1Fanatic Silly season.
The drivers already confirmed for 2013 are Vettel at Red Bull, Rosberg at Mercedes, Raikkonen at Lotus, Alonso at Ferrari, Button at McLaren, Glock at Marussia, and de la Rosa at HRT.
Red Bull: Already have Vettel. Webber’s contract expires at the end of 2012; he has been linked with a Ferrari drive. Some rumours have pointed Lewis Hamilton in the direction of Red Bull, but Christian Horner has played down this speculation. It seems as if the STR duo are not ready for a role at Red Bull, but it is too early in the season to tell. Another interesting candidate for a Red Bull seat is Heikki Kovalainen, who has experience with the Renault engine.
McLaren: Button is confirmed, and Hamilton is likely to be retained as him teammate. If not, Paul di Resta is an option for McLaren.
Ferrari: While Alonso is onboard, Massa is surely not. There’s a high probability he will be sacked at the end of the year, and his successors could be Sergio Perez or Mark Webber.
Mercedes: Rosberg renewed his contract and will stay with the Mercedes team, but Schumacher does not have a 2013 contract. Should the latter decide to truly retire, his replacements include Mercedes protegee Paul di Resta, and hungry backmarkers Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock (assuming the latter can wriggle his way out of his Marussia contract).
Lotus: Raikkonen’s two-year deal stretches into 2013, but there many choices for his teammate. The most logical choice is to retain Grosjean, but Lotus have ties to a number of promising rookies including FR3.5 title candidates Richie Stanaway and Kevin Korjus, Lotus’ GP2 star James Calado, and the very quick DAMS duo of Felipe Nasr and Davide Valsecchi. It will be interesting to see where Lotus place them.
Force India: Paul di Resta could leave for Mercedes or even McLaren, although the former is more probable. Jules Bianchi has a probable chance of driving for the team in 2013, but the same cannot be said for Hulkenberg unless he steps up his performance and goes shopping for sponsors. If not, Bruno Senna could potentially buy his way into the team.
Sauber: If Sergio Perez leaves for Ferrari, his place will be taken by Esteban Gutierrez. Kobayashi carries little sponsorship money and has been overshadowed by Sergio Perez’s Malaysian GP drive, so his seat could be taken by Bruno Senna.
STR: Are very likely to retain their driver pairing. I honestly doubt either one is ready for an RBR seat and I also doubt Helmut Marko will promote Lewis Williamson or the “loser” Buemi, as described by Marko.
Williams: Maldonado’s cash flow will guarantee him a 2013 seat while Valtteri Bottas will replace Bruno Senna. That’s that, really.
Caterham: The hard-working Kovalainen has been mouthwatering for a competitive car, so he could leave. Meanwhile, Petrov is doing a reasonably good job and carries a mountain of roubles for him team. Kovalainen’s successor, if needed, will be American Alexander Rossi; an ideal fit for a calendar with two races in the States.
Marussia: Glock could retire to the DTM or try his luck at campaigning for an opening at McLaren or Mercedes, but he’s bound by a contract. John Booth has expressed interest in retaining Charles Pic, but he also said the same about Lucas di Grassi and Jerome d’Ambrosio. In the circumstance one or two of them leave, Marussia have an able GP2 pairing of the vastly-improved Max Chilton and Indonesian ace Rio Haryanto.
HRT: Have Pedro de la Rosa on board for 2013, but Karthikeyan looks set to be replaced by Dani Clos. Davide Valsecchi could also fit in their driver line-up equation.