by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 172
21 GPWEEK.com // 21 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: OPINION MUSICAL CHAIRS Lewis Hamilton’s decision to switch from McLaren to Mercedes next year has been hailed as ‘the big move’ which will shake up the grid for next year. But more accurately it’s Sergio Perez’ move to McLaren that is prompting a multi-million dollar game of musical chairs. Despite his podium at home in Japan, the smart money is on Kamui Kobayashi leaving Sauber too. So there’s double parking on offer there. Nico Hulkenburg looks set to join the Swiss team as its leader, with Esteban Gutierrez being promoted from the third driver role and Robert Frijns, who has just won the World Series by Renault, joining as reserve. This should be confirmed following the Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test in two weeks’ time. Gutierrez and Frijns are just two of a handful of junior drivers with a realistic chance of a job in F1 next year. On Friday night I attended the GP2 Series prize giving on a cruise down the Paris Seine. Champion Davide Valsecchi and runner-up Luiz Razia are staking all their hopes on F1 race seats next year, while top-placed rookie James Calado is hoping to challenge for the GP2 title by re-signing with Lotus-ART and get an F1 reserve job on the side, probably with Williams if Valterri Bottas replaces Bruno Senna as expected. If Hulkenberg exits Force India, Valsecchi and Razia may find a berth there. That would be the best option in terms of performance. The other option is Caterham, who look set to re-sign Heikki Kovalainen if they can meet the Finn’s financial demands and lose Vitaly Petrov, who seems to have gone off the idea of being a Formula One driver. I know, I don’t understand that one either. Then, of course, there’s HRT and Marussia, but you need more money than sense to pitch yourself there; abject desperation to be an F1 driver at any cost. Kovalainen’s performances these last three years have been impressive, and while I don’t think he’s quick enough to return to a top team he has proved a strong leader and might give Force India the guidance they need. I understand Paul di Resta, who is sure to stay thanks to his Mercedes ties, doesn’t provide the motivation and sense of loyalty that a midfield garage really needs. The other driver who could be just the tonic for Force India is Kobayashi, who despite having a bit of an up-and- down year has always impressed me. He and Di Resta are contrasting drivers, but maybe that’s what the team needs. Throw some wasabi in there. I actually think ‘Kobash’ (right) does have what it takes to be a top team driver, and so next year will be critical if he’s to have a long-term and successful future. He needs to be in an environment where he can blossom and, with Lotus set to resign Raikkonen and Grosjean, Force India is really the only available seat which isn’t in a graveyard. Of course, in the last couple of weeks everyone has been talking about the long-term future of Sebastian Vettel. Would he – could he – leave Red Bull a year early and drive for Ferrari in 2014? There are strong rumours coming out of Maranello that there is an MOU, or something, signed between the two parties. But starting when? Vettel has a contract with Red Bull till the end of 2014. There will be performance clauses, but if he wins a hat-trick of titles this year, it seems unlikely that clause could fall in his favour. It would be a change of philosophy for Ferrari, too, to have two world champions in their stable. Traditionally they’ve chosen one headliner and one support act. Alonso’s contract runs through 2016. Last week, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo told Italian radio he doesn’t want “two roosters in the same hen house” – he wants drivers to race for Ferrari and not for themselves. With two individuals as competitive, dare I say it selfish, as Alonso and Vettel it is almost unthinkable it wouldn’t develop into civil war. Prost versus Senna would be kindergarten stuff in comparison. Alonso already vetoed any chance of Lewis Hamilton signing for Ferrari this year, and I can’t imagine him rolling out the crimson carpet for Vettel – his main rival for the last few years – either. But maybe it’s just Ferrari trying to unsettle Red Bull. This would be typical of the Italians. You’ve got to admit, it makes a lot more sense to have Vettel join in 2017. He’ll be 29 then, just a year older than when Alonso made his debut for the Scuderia, and no doubt an even stronger driver than the German is now. Which is a bit scary. OPINION ADAM HAY-NICHOLLS F1 Editor