Posted by Carrot on October 5, 2012 | No Comments
You’d think it would be after the avalanche of recent announcements. But this was just the initial phase. Still lots of seats up for grabs, but what has this week done to the market?
First off, Michael Schumacher is going into retirement again. To be honest although I thought it was time, I wasn’t actually expecting a complete retirement from the sport. Considering he came back not only to go racing again but to pay back Mercedes for the help he had at the start of his career, I was believing the rumour that he might go to Sauber for a season. It’s often forgotten that Schumacher’s sports car days were spent with Peter Sauber’s outfit and I think a year there would have been a fine bookend to his celebrated motor racing career.
Now, Lewis Hamilton. What is he thinking? Absolutely the only justification I can think of is Lewis hoping that Ross Brawn can repeat the same success with the 2014 regulation changes that he had with his own team after Honda pulled out of the sport. It can’t be money, at least base salary, as we know when Schumacher returned that Nico Rosberg has a clause in his contract that doesn’t allow team mates to earn more than he does. The simple escape clause here is to have sponsors pay Hamilton directly, as they’ve no doubt been doing with Schumacher, but still would anyone leave McLaren for Mercedes? Lewis has won more races this season with McLaren than Mercedes have won as a team since their return at the start of 2010. I honestly can’t understand it. At least sign a short term contract and aim for a Red Bull seat where his personality would mesh perfectly.
Taking Hamilton’s seat, due to very fast work by the team, is the impressive Mexican Sergio Perez. Obviously moving to McLaren is a big step up for Perez, and it will also benefit Button due to their similar tyre conservation driving styles. Though he has impressed me, particularly beating his highly rated team mate Kamui Kobayashi so far this season, I don’t see why McLaren would go for him over some of the other drivers on the market. It seems like they’re after a project to build a driver, but unless they’ve got him nailed to a long term contract, it seems like they’re creating a future rival for themselves. I just don’t see Perez as a future champion.
So, what’s left? The two big seats are obviously the second Ferrari seat alongside Fernando Alonso and the second Lotus seat alongside Kimi Raikkonen. Elsewhere on the grid, there are no confirmations for 2013 from Caterham, Sauber, Toro Rosso and Williams, and a single seat at both Marussia and HRT. I can’t see Lotus doing anything other than confirm Romain Grosjean for next year unless they need sponsorship money in which case Pastor Maldonado or Bruno Senna might be in the running there. I’ll be surprised if Sauber don’t confirm Kobayashi for another season, which leaves only one seat at the team that has stood out as the best of the midfield this year.
Of course, the man rubbing his hands with glee at all this recent movement is Felipe Massa, the guy who anyone who isn’t a fan has been expecting to be unemployed come November. With Perez locked up and Maldonado proving too petulant when things don’t go his way, there’s not many drivers out there that Ferrari can go to. We also have to remember the pull Alonso has in that team, does he really want a new driver in that might challenge him? It’d be a distraction considering he’s really got Massa house broken as a number two driver. If he does get confirmed for another year, I expect that will be his last given Robert Kubica’s recovery should be complete in time for 2014 and Alonso might want his good friend alongside him.