Driver Merry-go-round: Perez, Magnussen, Pic, Kovalainen, Force India, Hulkenberg, Maldonado, Chilton and pretty much any other driver you can think of (Except JB, he’s safe for now)

13 Nov

*Disclaimer* I in no way, shape or form intend any disrespect towards your favourite driver, unless they truly are that bad. I’m looking at you Max Chilton.

*Note* Whilst reading this, bear in mind I wrote it between 2:30 and 4 in the afternoon. I’m fully aware of the fact Perez has now confirmed he’s leaving Mclaren, but I really can’t be bothered to go back and change any of the article.

F1 can be a very, very weird place. The ‘silly season’ as it’s affectionately called is now in full swing, and has been for most of this half of the year, but now, as we approach Austin, Texas, it seems to be getting even more crazy, to the point where just about every driver possible has been mentioned as a possible placement for next year. I swear this is the craziest year we’ve had so far, by a long shot.

Let’s start with Lotus. Lotus have two problems, first of which being that they don’t actually have a second driver confirmed for America…. or Brazil. Before anyone starts saying Davide Valsecchi, as good a driver as he is (And he is a good driver), it’s no secret that Eric Boullier has a particular dislike for rookie drivers, so it’s unlikely to be him. Who else is there then? I’ve seen people say they might go for Bruno Senna, who would be a decent option, but it seems just a little far fetched for me that they could get him to America in time. The biggest rumour at the moment, and the one i’m hoping comes true, is that Heikki Kovalainen will be back in the car. If you don’t know, Heikki is my second favourite driver on the grid, after Jenson Button, and I would love nothing more than to see him back racing.

Then Lotus have to decide who is going to join them permanently for next season (Kovalainen please). The best option would probably be Nico Hulkenberg, who’s shown himself to be very quick in a car that’s not brilliant, but will he compare to the PVDSA backed, rather arrogant South American warrior know as Pastor Maldonado? I guess that depends on the Quantum deal (I still have no idea what’s happening with that). I have to say, if the Hulk gets the seat, Maldonado wont get one. If Maldonado gets the seat, I reckon Hulkenberg will go back to Force India. I don’t see him staying at Sauber.

Next, let’s look at my favourite team Mclaren, who have made a real mess of things. Thankfully Jenson is safe, although I have to say I spent most of the summer wondering if he was going to be retained, so the fact he has a drive is relieving to say the least. However, there are more than enough question marks over who’s going to get the second seat. Perez, the current custodian, has by no means any more claim to the seat that anyone else, but you’d think he would be front runner, already being with the team. That’s now changed, with WSR champion Kevin Magnussen now heavily linked to the seat, so much so that I actually think it could happen. I know driver links happen all the time, but this one is so sudden, and heavy, that I think it’s really going to be true.

I’m only going to write a short bit about Force India. Neither driver is confirmed (yet). Di Resta has been the better of the two drivers this year in terms of points, but has a tendency to blame the team for almost everything and doesn’t really seem like a happy person (Or is that just me?). Sutil hasn’t really done anything wrong as such, but hasn’t set the world alight, so why not start over? I reckon Hulkenberg will go back if he doesn’t get the Lotus seat, and how about Perez if he can’t keep his Mclaren seat? (Bear in mind here that I don’t think Perez will go to FI, and i’ll explain who I think goes where later on). The other option is Kobayashi, who’s been busy racing Ferrari’s this year, he’d have plenty of fight to try and get back into F1, or even Bruno Senna. There are certainly plenty of options, although I don’t think FI would promote James Calado just yet.

There’s also the case of Max Chilton and whether he stays at Marussia, moves elsewhere or disappears off the face of the earth completely. I’m not going to waste my time on Max Chilton.

One last person to do, and this person is probably going to take up the most space in the whole article (An impressive feat I know, he’s need to do well to take over Max Chilton’s 2 lines). Throughout this season, Charles Pic has consistently outdone teammate Giedo Van Der Garde (8 to 3 in races where both drivers finished.) Recently, however, Pic’s place at Caterham has looked less and less secure, which quite frankly bizarre. Yes, admittedly qualifying is not Charles’ best asset, but then that doesn’t make you a bad driver whatsoever. Button is a pretty awful qualifier, but he’s still won a world championship. So for anyone that wants to tell me Giedo is a better driver because he can outqualify Pic i’d kindly like you to leave and never show your face here again. Similarly, to anyone who tries to use Abu Dhabi as evidence, i’d like to redirect them to the Japanese GP, where Pic had a drive through at the very start of the race, yet managed to overtake Chilton 3 times, make up a full 60 seconds over him during the course of a GP and pull 20 seconds clear by the end of it, in a car that isn’t much better to the Marussia’s. That’s talent. Qualifying 19th is not talent, doing what Charles Pic did in Japan is talent. 

Yet, for some reason, Tony Fernandes took to the world of Twitter to big up Giedo’s abilities like he’s the next big think. I almost choked on a pringle when I read it- one good race and Tony’s praising him to the heavens, yet he’s said nothing, absolutely nothing about Charles Pic the entire year. And I have news for him, Giedo is not getting any younger. He’s 28, hardly a young driver weho has the potential to become something special, whereas Pic is only 23, and already has plenty of talent with more than enough potential to succeed. I’d also like to point out that, when Heikki Kovalainen’s taken part in practice, he can go faster than VDG, but not Pic. That’s something to think about

Heikki Kovalainen’s been largely rumoured to be returning to Caterham, he’s been on good terms with them since he lost his drive at the end of last season, taken part in practice sessions, and is still a good driver with experience. OK he’s not going to be a world beater, but he brings more to the table than Van Der Garde does, so why am I seeing rumours that he’ll replace Pic?

One last point on Charles. I’d like to point out that he’s technically under contract with Caterham anyway. They even said so themselves when they first hired him, so getting rid of him would mean they would have to pay off the rest of his contract, which would cost them money they don’t have. Go figure.

So, at the end of the day, where do I expect everyone will be? Honestly, I reckon Perez will lose his Mclaren drive to Magnussen and return back to Sauber to partner new boy Sirotkin. Hulkenberg, having looked quick, will still lose out to a big drive, with Lotus handing their seat to Maldonado’s money. The Hulk will then go home to Force India, where he’ll partner Di Resta because Force India probably won’t want to get rid of him. Chilton will either stay at Marussia or disappear off the face of the earth. Charles Pic will stay at Caterham and partner Heikki Kovalainen. At least I hope so, i really, really hope so.

(If you’re wondering, I was playing this song throughout the time I was writing this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhh_SWZqriM)

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