F1 »

Ferrari, Raikkonen pick up ‘silly season’ baton

With Daniel Ricciardo out of the conversation, Kimi Raikkonen now holds the key to F1's driver market.

Daniel Ricciardo's confirmation at Red Bull Racing for 2014-15 will hopefully kick-start the F1 'silly season' carousel into action around the Italian Grand Prix, with several key seats still to be confirmed.

With his exit to Milton Keynes blocked by the Australian, all eyes will now turn to Kimi Raikkonen and where the Finn will wind up. Perhaps fancifully, the 2007 world champion was being touted as a powerhouse team-mate for Sebastian Vettel but, having missed out, is now effectively left with a choice between a return to Ferrari or remaining with Lotus for a third year.

Of course, the former option will depend largely on the Scuderia, and whether it decides to hand Felipe Massa another stay of execution. As he has in recent seasons, the Brazilian appears to be fighting for his seat, but needs to raise his game over the next few weeks. Team-mate Fernando Alonso looks set to stay at Maranello, rather than being an outside candidate at Red Bull – an unfeasible rumour widely believed to have been a bargaining position for the Spaniard and conveniently unsettling for one of RBR's biggest rivals – providing Ferrari with the option of forming potentially the strongest pairing for 2014.

Lotus, meanwhile, makes increasingly potent claims that it is doing all it can to make Raikkonen want to extend his stay at Enstone. Despite rumours of financial problems that resulted in the Finn not being paid on time, the team insists that all is in order and that it is seeking greater ties with engine partner Renault in a bid to make itself more attractive.

If Raikkonen goes, his departure will open up a competitive seat for a younger talent but, even if he decides to stay put, there may still be an opening at Enstone, with team-mate Romain Grosjean's position becoming more precarious. Nico Hulkenberg, Pastor Maldonado and Jules Bianchi have all been mentioned as possible targets for Lotus, but a lot depends on moves elsewhere, as well as Grosjean's form in the next few weeks.

Should Hulkenberg, Maldonado and Bianchi be picked up by the black-and-gold, it would open doors at Sauber, Williams and Marussia respectively. The Swiss team is already expected to make one change to its line-up with the inexperienced Sergey Sirotkin looking set to come hand-in-hand with Russian bail-out money, and has been touted as a potential staging post for Massa should he be cut by Ferrari. Hulkenberg, meanwhile, has also been tipped as a possible replacement for the Brazilian at Ferrari, so a straight swap is not out of the question should Sauber seek a seasoned veteran to partner Sirotkin.

Williams will be keen to hold on to Maldonado, as per his contract, because of the backing he brings from Venezuela, while Marussia has made no secret of its desire to retain Bianchi, who has led the team's all-rookie line-up in 2013. Ferrari, which has nurtured the Frenchman in recent years, will be engine partner to Marussia next season, but has also suggested that it would like to see its protégé racing a little higher up the grid in 2014. As well as Lotus, Force India has been mentioned as a possible destination for Bianchi who, of course, acted as the Silverstone team's reserve in 2012.

With Mercedes and McLaren looking set to retain their respective pairings, and Williams keen to keep Valtteri Bottas, the other potential changes will come at the back of the field, with the Caterham line-up of Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde uncertain for next year. While the Frenchman is understood to have a deal in place for 2014, the Dutchman's seat could depend on his sponsors, with rumours that he too is a potential target for Williams, Force India and Sauber depending on how other moves work out.

Bring the speculation full circle, meanwhile, Toro Rosso now has a seat to fill following Ricciardo's departure. World Series regular Antonio Felix da Costa is the hot tip for promotion due to his position on Red Bull's development scheme, although GP2 frontrunner Felipe Nasr is rumoured to be in contention following his strong season in the F1 feeder series.

Whatever happens, the next few weeks should slowly see the carousel grind into action as teams attempt to get themselves set – and remove another distraction - before the build-up to the new technical challenge of the 2014 campaign.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
23.08.2013- Free Practice 2, Giedo Van der Garde (NED), Caterham F1 Team CT03
23.08.2013- Free Practice 1, Stefano Domenicali (ITA), Team Principal and Felipe Massa (BRA) Scuderia Ferrari F138
23.08.2013- Free Practice 1, Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber F1 Team C32
25.08.2013-  Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 Team E21 retires from the race
07.07.2013- Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 Team E21
Maurizio Arrivabene and Sergio Marchionne at Ferrari`s annual Christmas media briefing
Maurizio Arrivabene and Sergio Marchionne at Ferrari`s annual Christmas media briefing
Sergio Marchionne at Ferrari`s annual Christmas media briefing
Maurizio Arrivabene at Ferrari`s annual Christmas media briefing
Maurizio Arrivabene and Sergio Marchionne face the press at Ferrari`s annual Christmas media briefing
Esteban Gutierrez joins Ferrari as test and reserve driver
Sebastian Vettel in the F2012 during a day testing at Fiorano
Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren Test and Reserve Driver.
26.11.2014.
The McLaren MP4-29H of Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren Test and Reserve Driver is recovered back to the pits on the back of a truck.
26.11.2014.
The McLaren MP4-29H of Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren Test and Reserve Driver is recovered back to the pits on the back of a truck.
26.11.2014.
Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W05 Reserve Driver.
26.11.2014.
Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W05 Reserve Driver.
26.11.2014.
Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren MP4-29H Test and Reserve Driver.
26.11.2014.

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.


Taz

September 03, 2013 8:54 AM

If they want a stab at the WCC then sign Kimi, if they want another year like this year & last then keep Massa.....and some sponsors happy. I think Kimi will stay at Lotus, then again I was convinced he's go to RBR.



© 1999 - 2014 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.