Since we only have a few seats left, the silly season is in dire condition. Honestly, I hope we get at least a few good rumors between now and the new year for any remaining seats.
Force India (1 seat left)
- Jules Bianchi did the Young Drivers Test for them, as well as being on the pitwall an awful lot, much like Hulkenberg in 2011. He had a good season in FR3.5 and did very well in the YDT for Ferrari as well. As far as I’m aware, he doesn’t bring in that much sponsors/money and while Force India is looking at an investment, two of their main sponsors have been in financial/political turmoil this year. As far as talent goes, I think he might be their best shot and most likely to be contracted.
- Adrian Sutil is said to have Levono backing, but a couple of sites have indicated that entering China, the USA and Canada might be harder for him since the Eric Lux incident. He knows the team and is a good driver, but with no driving in 2012 and since he isn’t one to pull extraordinary performances out of the hat, I consider his chances slim.
- Then there’s the former Torro Rosso boys, Buemi and Alguersuari. While Alguersuari has the benefit of testing for Pirelli, Buemi lacks mileage in 2012. Both of them are decent/good drivers, but personally, I don’t see any added value in them for Force India. Unless Alguersuari has a good sponsor portfolio or Force India, now having tested the 2013 tires in FP at Brazil, really need that knowledge about the Pirelli’s.
- Bruno Senna has also been mentioned, but this would most likely be a financial call. He brings in a neat amount of money, but he is yet to impact Formula 1 fans and probably teams as well.
- Kamui Kobayashi would probably need sponsors as well, but the reports of him opening a donation page for fans does not bode too well for his sponsor portfolio.
Lotus (1 seat left)
There has been virtually no talks of other drivers joining Lotus for next year and it is clear that Total and Eric Boullier would like to keep Romain Grosjean in the team. A matter of time.
Williams (2 seats left)
- Unless something dramatical happens to his PDVSA backing, Pastor Maldonado is pretty much confirmed for 2013. He has been cleaning up his act since Grosjean’s race ban and is very quick over one lap. If Williams can sort him out some more, he can win more races.
- Bottas is as good as confirmed as well. Williams have been showing him off and sacrificing Senna’s practices in his favor.
- The odds of Senna staying or someone like Buemi, Kobayashi or Sutil joining the team seem very slim.
Marussia (1 seat left)
- Max Chilton is universally agreed upon as their most likely 2nd man for next year. Unless his sponsors don’t match Marussia’s asking price, he should be good.
- Some have mentioned Marussia could well sign a Russian driver sooner or later. Since most Russians in lower Formulae aren’t really up to standards, this could well mean Vitaly Petrov might be eyed by Marussia, but these rumors are quite weak.
Caterham (1 seats left)
- At first the Dutch media started rumoring about Giedo van der Garde joining Caterham for 2013, but I’ve seen a lot of international sites mentioning him as well. He himself has said it us ‘up to the managers’ now, which was the same thing he said when he was rumored to join Virgin in 2011. He has money, but not that much.
- Kovalainen looks unlikely to be retained, leading to paying drivers such as Senna to be rumored. Caterham might also have some others cards up its sleeve.
As far as HRT is concerned, I do not believe they will be on the grid in 2013, with recent talks of redundancy notices and foreclosure seeming more likely.