The 2010 Formula season will be the most exciting when it comes to the driver market as barring a few driver’s on one on the grid is sure on which team they will be landing up in the next few months. We must assume that the FIA-FOTA battle is resolved as otherwise well the driver market will once again be turned topsy turvy. The emergence of Brawn GP and RBR as title contenders has given the sport the trust it badly needed and it has also provided an opportunity for title aspirants a chance to fight it out with the traditional superpowers like Ferrari and McLaren. Also with 3 new teams coming in, 6 seats are open and this provide opportunities for out of favour veterans and young guns both an equal chance of getting into F1.
Both Massa and Kimi Raikkonen have contracts till the end of 2010 but this season has been their worst ever and it will be harsh on blaming the performance on drivers alone but both the drivers have seen their fortunes take a twist after the 2007 season. Kimi after winning a miraculous championship in 2007 has been on a downhill and he barely looks like a championship contender while teammate Massa nearly pulled off a title win in 2008 and has looked the better driver in the last 2 years. Massa is having the last laugh as once he was mocked in the pit lane as the only driver who would play 2nd fiddle to Schumacher and now the same guy is the best team for the Scuderia.
But the biggest open secret of the year is Alonso coming to Ferrari for 2010. The Spanish giant Santander is switching sponsoring agreement from McLaren and Ferrari and as a part of the deal Alonso will also come to Ferrari next year. But the one issue is that Kimi still has a contract and if we are too be believed, Kimi will be forced out and should retire by the year end.
Lewis Hamilton has a contract signed for the next season but it is highly doubtful if Heikki Kovalainen will retain his seat. He has been a perfect # 2 for Hamilton but then his performance is still not to the level which you will expect from a McLaren driver. It is most likely that he will be replaced next season but who will replace him will be very interesting as Haug is interested in having a German driver in the McLaren team and Vettel seem to be on top of his wish list but with a long contract with Red Bull I don’t think Vettel will come to McLaren while Nico Rosberg is suddenly the most wanted driver on the grid as he is keen on moving away from Williams as they are yet to provide him with a championship winning car as they have promised him for years plus he is very good friends with Hamilton may also be good for the team. Webber after an impressive 2009 will also be on the team’s list but after an amazing year with RBR, it is unlikely he will leave the team. Adrian Sutil will be the long shot for the team and so will be Glock but he does have a contract with Toyota for the next season.
Once they were part of the Big 4 of the F1 but their fortunes have dwindled ever since Renault left them and though they did show signs of recovery with BMW, but once BMW left them too they have been on a downhill and now the team has become a stepping stone of sorts for young drivers. Nico Rosberg has been with the team since 2006 and it is most likely that he will leave the team the next year as he is in negotiations with more than one team for 2010. They do have Nicolas Hülkenberg another impressive German who is currently leading the GP2 series and he is most likely to take Rosberg’s seat. Kazuki Nakajima is there because of the Toyota links and Williams will be in trouble if they manage to retain Rosberg and clearly Hülkenberg wants a race seat in 2010 and he will look for other options if Williams does not provide him a drive. Kamui Kobayashi another Ferrari backed driver could be the man who may replace Nakajima for 2010.
It would be great to see Renault still on the grid for 2010 and so far they seem to be committed but then after Honda’s last minute pull anything can happen and if they do pull out Flavio Briatore will buy the team and may try to do a Brawn but they will get Renault engines for 2010. If Alonso does not go to Ferrari then he will be Renault’s #1 driver for the next season but who will partner him will be very interesting as Renault does have a lot of options. If Renault is still there then Romain Grosjean is the man who will get the seat while if Alonso exits then Romain will be partnered by Heikki Kovalainen or one of the 2 Brazilian duos of Lucas Di Grassi or Bruno Senna. But this surely will be the end for Piquet.
Both Kubica and Heidfeld do not have a contract for 2010 and there is apparently a clause in the reserve driver Klien’s contract that BMW should provide him a race seat for 2010 so if that is serious then either Kubica or Heidfeld have to go. Already Heidfeld has said that he is talking to teams and it is most unlikely that for 2010 he will be retained while Kubica is most likely to be with the team for 2010 but who will be his teammate should be interesting as though the team will try to get Rosberg but it is most likely to be Klien.
The team is yet to have an engine supplier for 2010 but Mercedes is keen to supply them and unless cost becomes an issue the team will most likely continue its partnership with the German manufacturer. The team should win both the titles for 2010 as Red Bull may have a realistic chance for the constructor’s championship but for the driver’s championship with both Vettel and Webber eating points of each other mean it does benefit Button and in the end he may win the title because of it. Rubens Barrichello is certain to leave to team and he is pissed with the team he believes that the team is intentionally causing him wins as they want Button to win the title and at his age well I don’t think any of the top teams would want his service. There was a talk that both Rosberg and Heidfeld are in talk with Brawn and they would be a solid addition to the team. Another long shot is having Anthony Davidson as a 2nd driver but then that is unlikely to happen unless the team has a financial crunch.
Red Bull Racing
The team is most likely to become another Mercedes customer team or even BMW may supply them in their quest to get back Vettel but Red Bull is most likely to change its drivers as both Vettel and Webber have done exceedingly well and the team would like to continue this partnership. The only worry for the team in the long run is that Vettel may go off to Ferrari as he has indicated that the Italian outfit is his dream team while Webber will most likely end his career with Red Bull.
It will be great of the Japanese outfit to survive but with Glock as the only driver with a contract for 2010, it should be interesting to see who partners him and though Trulli is most likely to partner him, there is a chance of either Kazuki Nakajima or Kamui Kobayashi can also get into the team.
Another team which does not have a engine supplier for 2010 and they should retail Ferrari for the next year and Sebastien Buemi is most likely to race for them. He will be partnered by Jaime Alguersuari and there is an outside chance that he will switch seats for some races with Brendon Hartley.
Force India Mercedes
The team has signed a long term deal with Mercedes and this means that the team may have to accommodate a Mercedes driver for the next year. Adrian Sutil will retain his seat while teammate Giancarlo Fisichella should retire by the end of the year and will take a development role with the team. British driver Paul di Resta may partner him while Vitantonio Liuzzi also does claim that he too has a race seat. Karun Chandhok is an outside chance for the seat.
USF1 wanted American drivers for the team and though in all possibility there should be one of them but it is doubtful if the team will go with 2 inexperienced drivers as among the American drivers the only person with F1 experience is Scott Speed and his days in F1 did not go too well. It would be amazing if the team managed to get Danica Patrick in the team as she is infact the one of the most popular female athletes around and she is a marketing dream for the team. It will be great for F1 if she does make it while among the other who does have a chance. Others who will be considered will include Conor Daly, Marco Andretti and Kyle Busch.
Veterans like Rubens Barrichello and even those who have left F1 like Montoya or Jacques Villeneuve do have an outside chance but the ideal combination for the team will be Barrichello and Danica Patrick.
The Spanish team has indicated that it would like to have an all Spanish line-up and so this means that it has a wide choice from the range of veterans like Pedro de la Rosa or Marc Gené to young hopefuls like Javier Villa and Roldán Rodríguez. So far if it is to be believed de la Rosa is confirmed as one of their drivers while he is most likely to be partnered by the Russian Vitaly Petrov, Mexican Sergio Pérez or even experience GP2 driver Giorgio Pantano. But one thing is certain is that though there is talk of Danica Patrick and USF1, Campos have signed in Natacha Gachnang as a reserve driver and she could be the only female driver anywhere close to the grid during the 2010 season.
The only reason Manor is on the grid is due to due to its alleged links with Mosley. The team will be the most underfunded team and who drivers for it will be equally mysterious. Anthony Davidson should be the favourite to take the seat while he should be partnered by Adam Carroll or even guys like Bruno Senna and Lucas di Grassi have a chance of getting a drive. But don’t expect any miracles from this team for 2010.
The driver market is very open for 2010 and Alonso once again will play a crucial role but Nico Rosberg and Nick Heidfeld will be the 2 most wanted drivers in the line-up.
The final possible line-up for 2010
Brawn: Jenson Button/ Nick Heidfeld
Red Bull: Sebastian Vettel/ Mark Webber
Toyota: Timo Glock/ Jarno Trulli
Ferrari: Fernando Alonso/ Felipe Massa
Williams: Nico Hulkenberg/Kamui Kobayashi
McLaren: Lewis Hamilton/Nico Rosberg
Renault: Romain Grosjean/Heikki Kovalainen
BMW-Sauber: Robert Kubica/Christian Klien
Toro Rosso: Sebastien Buemi/ Jaime Alguersuari
Force India: Adrian Sutil/Vitantonio Liuzzi
USF1: Rubens Barrichello/Danica Patrick
Campos: Pedro de la Rosa/Vitaly Petrov
Manor: Anthony Davidson/ Bruno Senna