This morning every F1 fan woke to the news that Sebastian Vettel had blown the driver market wide open in his announcement to leave Red Bull. Where will he go? Where will anyone go? Guest writer Ben Haddleton mulls over a few options.
So, Fernando Alonso is leaving Ferrari and signing for Mclaren? Everybody assumes that this will be the case. If so, then what would the complete line up be at Woking; Alonso and Jenson Button? Alonso and Kevin Magnussen? Alonso and Sebastian Vettel? All three are a possibility.
Let’s not forget the key that’s now going to unlock the driver market for 2015 is the bombshell that Sebastian Vettel is leaving Red Bull at the end of 2014. That announcement is fact, and Daniil Kvyat is promoted to the main squad from Toro Rosso after only 15 grand prix. From GP3 champion to frontline Formula One driver in 12 months – it’s enough to make your head spin.
The only thing we have heard with regards to Vettel signing Ferrari is a led question from Ted Kravitz to Christian Horner. Who knows – Horner could have been playing with us too. It’s not unheard of for these things to happen, so what if that is nothing more than smoke and mirrors and we end up with an Alonso-Vettel-McLaren-Honda superteam?
And then, in this situation, what of Ferrari? They have Raikkonen lined up already for 2015. Or do they? He hasn’t set the world alight on his return and they have already cancelled the contract of one driver in regards to Fernando (and more people higher up the Ferrari chain too), so is it entirely unfeasible that he would not be there next year too?
That would leave two spots. Button would be a logical choice. – Ferrari have always liked his style and a few years back he made no secret of his desire to race there should the opportunity arise. What of the other seat? Young Driver stalwart Jules Bianchi is the logical choice, but should really prove himself a bit more with a midfield team (arguably, that is Ferrari anyway this season, but still). In that case, I would say Nico Hulkenberg. If Ferrari seemingly want to become a quantifiable organisation rather than a passionate team – which is what many of the changes suggest – then what better pairing to spearhead that change? And then there’s always the off-chance that Sergio Perez may make the step to Maranello. He was a Young Driver there, and can be a live wire when he wants to be.
Ultimately, where does this leave Fernando Alonso?
Two options. He has a year off and nabs Lewis Hamilton’s seat at Mercedes for 2016, as the Brit’s current contract ends at the end of next season and negotiations have only just started up. Will some of the conflict this season play against him when it comes to extending a contract? Only time will tell.
There’s always Felipe Massa’s subtle jab during an interview with Alonso earlier today. Did he hit it on the head by saying he will go to either Caterham or Marussia? Hear me out – similar has happened in the past, a la Damon Hill and Arrows, only for a better seat to open up 12 months later. If the Spaniard waits on a Mercedes seat, what better way to stay in the paddock than to sustain another F1 team for a few years more?
Or maybe there’s a third option of the back of that. We still haven’t heard who the “mysterious backers” at Caterham are. Alonso has the money, he has the team sponsorship to bring in with Santander and he has the ability to drive and improve the team from the pointy end. Could it be that it hasn’t been revealed yet because he was in a contract with Ferrari, which did not allow him to? He says he has had the thoughts (to leave) for months – months as in since the Caterham takeover?
Let’s just get a few things clear. Nothing written here is set in stone. The only real driver moves we know about are Vettel leaving Red Bull and Kvyat taking his place. As of writing, no one else is confirmed at any other team so we can speculate wildly. But then, isn’t that why we call it Silly Season?