29 September 2012
F1 2013 driver line-up
What is the current state of play in the F1 driver market?
Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez are the latest drivers to be confirmed in F1 2013 after their respective moves to Mercedes and McLaren were confirmed on Friday.
It means nine drivers are now officially confirmed for the year ahead with three teams having finalised partnerships, although
Fernando Alonso will once again lead Ferrari into 2013 with his team-mate still to be officially confirmed. Felipe Massa will be eager to retain his position alongside the Spaniard and is a known quantity within the team, while the Brazilian can also count on the support of Alonso in his bid to stay.
Red Bull was the first team to confirm its 2013 line-up, with Mark Webber having inked a new deal to stay alongside Sebastian Vettel for another year, with the news of the Hamilton/Perez moves firming up the driver pairings at both Mercedes and McLaren for the new season.
Elsewhere, Timo Glock and Pedro de la Rosa both have deals in place with Marussia and HRT for 2013.
Amongst other teams, Lotus are almost certain to retain Kimi Raikkonen after his successful return in 2012. The Finn signed a two-year deal with an option when joining the team for this season, with the team set to activate that option after a strong campaign from the former Ferrari man. Team boss Eric Boullier has made no secret of his desire to retain Romain Grosjean as well with it surely only a matter of time before the partnership is confirmed again.
News that Perez is moving on means Sauber has at least one seat free, with speculation also about the future of Kamui Kobayashi after he failed to match Perez on track this year. Test driver Esteban Gutierrez could get a chance thanks to his links to Telmex – the same company that has backed Perez – while Charles Pic has also been mentioned as an option for the Swiss team. Sauber could also an option for Michael Schumacher if he wanted to stay on the grid, with the German having raced for the team in sportscars prior to F1.
Sauber has said it will announce its drivers in due course, with Williams in the same position. Pastor Maldonado will probably stay thanks to the backing he brings, while the second seat seems to be between Bruno Senna and Valtteri Bottas; with many expecting the Finn to get the nod.
Force India are tipped to remain unchanged, with Friday's announcement making it likely that the team will be able to keep both Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg, who have deals in place but had been linked to moves elsewhere – with Vijay Mallya saying he wouldn't stand in their way if a big team came calling.
Toro Rosso are also set to remain unchanged, leaving the three 'new teams' as those to fill their vacancies.
With no chance of a return to McLaren, and despite being linked to Ferrari, Heikki Kovalainen would now appear set to remain with Caterham although the identity of his team-mate is unclear with Vitaly Petrov struggling to secure the financial backing needed. Pic has been mentioned as one option if the Russian does indeed depart.
Max Chilton is the name being linked with the second seat with Marussia on the back of a solid GP2 campaign, while Narain Karthikeyan hopes to stay with HRT.
As ever however, a number of drivers from elsewhere – such as GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi and BBC Five Live co-commentator Jaime Alguersuari – are seeking opportunities in F1 for the year ahead.
Who do you think will end up where? Let us know on the link below…
Confirmed 2013 F1 drivers:
Fernando Alonso: Spain Ferrari-Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault
Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault
Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes
Sergio Perez Mexico McLaren-Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton Britain Mercedes-Mercedes
Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes
Timo Glock Germany Marussia-Cosworth
Pedro de la Rosa Spain HRT-Cosworth
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