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GP Week : Issue 64
GPWEEK OPINION >> year, either as a test or race driver although the management deal he was rumoured to have recently signed with Flavio Briatore may have to be examined following Monday's court hearing in Paris. Lucas di Grassi, too, has shown mega consistency. Taking a podium in 45% of the races he contested is good in anyone's books, and I hope he gets his F1 shot at last in 2010. Karun Chandhok may find his way to F1 with Force India, and there is talk surrounding Luca Filippi, Pastor Maldonado and Alvaro Parente. The talk in the GP2 paddock in Portimao, however, was also about Renault, Piquet and Briatore. Of course, Nelsinho still owns a GP2 racing team, and Flavio was one of the fathers of the GP2 concept. Any ideas that GP2 may be in trouble pending the outcome of the WMSC hearing is wide of the mark however. The championship was sold to CVC a few years back, so GP2's future should be bright. There are a number of team managers in GP2 who are also being spoken of as possible Flavio replacements at Renault ... but of course, everything revolves around the FIA's decision. Once again in 2009, the GP2 Series has provided a fantastic shop window for the F1 teams. The championship celebrated its fifth birthday and 100th race this season, and should justifiably be proud of its distinction in having provided the world with some of the finest F1 drivers of the modern generation. With a few more in the pipeline, it's a championship that has become impossible to ignore. almost like he's being eased out. Remember why Valentino left Honda at the end of 2003? It was because he didn't feel sufficiently valued by the factory. Honda has a long-standing reputation of treating the riders (in the words of Rossi's tech chief Jerry Burgess) "like light bulbs -- when one's worn out, you screw it out and screw in another one." To underline this, Rossi has often spoken about the team environment and its close relationship with the factory, almost like a family affair. The bonhomie was not forced at the time, but it was inevitably doomed from the very moment at the start of 2008 when different tyre usage between Rossi and Lorenzo dictated a wall down the middle of the pit. They're on the same tyres now, but the wall stays. I keep coming back to the title of Rossi's autobiography: "What if I hadn't tried it?" He was referring to the Honda-Yamaha switch; but the sentiment remains as valid today. It's hard to imagine him turning his back on a challenge like that of taming the Ducati, to become the first rider ever to win the title on three different makes of motorcycle. But he may have run out of time, and not only on his own account. Some reports suggest that he wouldn't move unless crew chief Jerry Burgess went with him. Burgess himself has flagged an intention to retire, depending on if and when Rossi quits. But whether the Australian has the energy and will to move to yet another factory, an all-Italian factory, is the big question. I for one hope that he does. drama, the future's bright -- time for one last adventure? 21