Could we have mid-season grid changes in top teams?

This topic contains 20 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  PinkMaggit 6 years, 3 months ago.

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    As we had one of the only times in history (I don’t know any time, but it’s possible it has happened before) a driver refusing complying with a team order, Mark Webber that didn’t obbey his team asking him to “mantain gap” and tried to overtake his teammate during the last laps of the GP. Having admitted it publicly, and considering the dissatisfaction Christian Horner manifested after the race, we can face a unique and thrilling situation for heating even this mid-season:

    if the Red Bull Racing management decides to do what is right and kick the Australian out of the team, we can face a class-of-the-field team in the market searching for a top driver. Well, with the exception of the young talents promissing in a midfield team or backmarker they can take the jump, they can be World Champions if they are given the car (Kimi and Alonso came to mind), with that exception, usually what the Big Teams do is to get established drivers from a rival team. Since there’s no one at the time giving that promise (Kobayashi maybe needs one or two more years on Sauber, Perez is a rookie, Kubica is sick), then it would be the case that Red Bull go get his driver to McLaren or Ferrari.

    We have also to consider the rumours we’ve been having about talks between Horner and Hamilton, and the numerous times Hamilton showed his dissatisfaction with the team, threatening inclusively not resign for McLaren if they don’t comply to his demands. The topic then is can this be possible?

    Assuming that yes, RB says enough is enough, we can take sarcastic radio messages, but not a driver that is in it for himself, and triggers Mark Webber’s shocking departure, probably to retirement, will we witness to a almost unique change mid-season from top team to top team?

    Will Lewis go? Will they prefer another driver with more of a profile for 2nd driver (Massa?) Another option from the midfield?

    Think about it, it would be amazing. We would have a championship contender, Lewis Hamilton, that scored part of his points in another team. While his 109 points count for McLaren Constructors Championship, they will be his for the Drivers. Who will replace him in McLaren?



    Nah they will stick it out, any publicity is good publicity and likely Mark will leave at the end of the season.


    Alianora La Canta

    If there was a driver likely to suit Red Bull’s requirements (a compliant No. 2 at about the same speed as Mark Webber) available without contract or conditions, they might have considered it. Since no such driver is available, it definitely won’t happen – instead Red Bull will continue with the current arrangment and have a re-think later.


    Prisoner Monkeys

    They’d keep Webber until the end of the season. If Red Bull want to win the Constructors’ Championship again, they need two top-flight drivers. They wouldn’t sacrifice Webber for his disobedience because it could cost them that title. Instead, they’d simply not renew his contract at the end of the year and get someone new for 2012 after having had time to appraise potential drivers.



    They would need to find someone who wouldnt really mind being a number 2 driver so I think anyone from the top wont be moving. I would put my money on someone desperate to leave their team or willing to accept any team offer. I think it would be Sutil, Glock, or Heidfeld. All seem like they can do more or less than what Webber does and I dont think Redbull want a superstar status driver like Hamilton.



    I would say nowadays Red Bull is a dream move. to anyone, inclunding hamilton. to sutil, glock or heidfeld, more than a dream. hence the question.

    Prisoner Monkeys, you’re not defending that there are no pilots around that could match/improve Webber’s performances, right? Of course it can be a risk to bring someone like glock, or even established champions/former championships contenders. but in this business there’s always a risk. risk is not an argument to not make a change, if they view webber’s acts as unaceptable (like I do).

    it would definitely spice the season up and we are in a need for that, I think. At least one more guy with a shot to win races besides the famous 4 (+ Massa, not inclunding Webber).

    Glock would be nice, he never had The Shot. Hamilton also would be nice, not only for the unevitable war with Vettel, but also because another seat in a competitive car would be made available for the glocks and direstas of the grid.

    Notice that like many, I always had that soft spot for Webber. But after Sunday, it hardened beyond repair: wish him luck in Le Mans or something of the kind.



    What? PM changed his avatar!! I couldn’t recognise him!



    You’ve got me thinking about race winning teams that changed a driver mid season in the last 20 odd years, these are all I’ve come up with:

    1994: Williams (Senna, DC and Nige), Benetton (Verstappen, Letho and Herbert)

    1997: (Wurz and Berger)

    1999: Ferrari (MSC and Salo)

    2003: Williams (Gene and Ralf Shoe)

    2004: Williams (Ralf, Gene and Pizzonia), Renault (Trulli for Villenueve, forgot about that one)

    2006: McLaren (Montoya for PDLR)

    2009: Ferrari (Badoer and Massa)

    So pretty rare, but it happens.


    Dan Thorn

    Don’t forget De La Rosa and Wurz for Montoya in 2005 as well!



    The majority were due to the driver being injured.



    yes, and the few that weren’t replaced by injury were for real, because of bad results, with the sacking of driver like the cases of Trulli 04, Montoya 06 (sacked after Indianapollis after a poor early season) and myself. All of them went on to leave F1, except Trulli, that remained in F1, racing the same season of 2004 the last 2 races for Toyota. Wurz replaced Bergher in 97, by Gerhard’s choice as he was ending his career that year and gave an opportunity to his fellow austrian protege, I believe.

    In short, very few midseason changes on front runner teams, and in 20 years only 3 by sacking, 2 of them never returned to F1 which tell us he ruleis stay until the end of the season, the sacking is the exceptions.

    Anyway it seems Webber is staying and even signing for one more year. I was really not excepting this. Does this mean Christian Horner’s weakening whitin the team, as it is the owner that (linked on F1Fanatic’s article) said “he [Webber] would be a very bad racer had he not tried to attack and gain a position” after Horner stating his discontentment for Webber’s disobbeying him/the team and that he would have a “talk” with him? It seems like that, although there’s no apparent reason to this weakening of power…


    Alianora La Canta

    Part of the reason for this is the CRB. For the last 11 years, drivers have lodged their contracts with their teams at the CRB and it has been responsible for enforcing contracts. Therefore sackings only occur when there is very good reason for them and sometimes not even then (technically Montoya wasn’t sacked – while his removal from the racing side of things meant it might as well have been a sacking, he was on the McLaren roll until the end of the season).



    CRB, Contract Recognition Board… learning new things every day.. that’s the reason Button never returned to Williams, right?

    Are they against a system like football? Pay the holder for the driver, if they are willing. Pay absurd rescission clausules if they aren’t (and you really want the driver). I wonder why.


    Alianora La Canta

    Because changing drivers causes such a disruption to continuity that a team would have to have very good cause – or be very stupid – to drop a driver at any point except at the end of a season.



    From what I’ve seen of teams swapping drivers mid season it is usually a bad move. One of the worst in my opinion was Renault changing Trulli for Villeneuve. So if I was Christian Horner I would keep Webber until the end of the season, at least. If Webber leaves mid season Hamilton won’t join them, he might at the end of the season, but I wouldn’t want him if I was RB. They need a number 2 driver. Vettel and Hamilton in the same team seems like a recipe for disaster to me. I would be after Massa or Rosberg – someone quiet that wouldn’t rock the boat too much.

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