22 November 2010

2011 test/reserve drivers

There is naturally less information and speculation about reserve drivers, but for at least two teams it could be an interesting prospect, namely Mercedes (in case Schumacher retires/doesn't like Pirelli tyres) and Toro Rosso (whose drivers are rumoured to have 6 month contracts with performance targets to stay in the sport).

With this in mind, I thought I'd list the drivers in the frame:

Red Bull: Daniel Ricciardo (current reserve, did all the "young driver" tests for the team)
McLaren: Gary Paffett, Oliver Turvey (Paffet, 29, has been in this role for several years)
Ferrari: Jules Bianchi (highly rated and shares a manager with Felipe Massa)
Mercedes: Nico Hulkenberg/Anthony Davidson (rumours that the German could find a job, if no seat is forthcoming, otherwise Davidson might resume the role he first held since the BAR days)
Renault: Jerome D'Ambrosio (if he doesn't get a Virgin drive)
Williams: presumably someone rich (or Dean Stoneman, winner of Formula 2 this year)
Force India: Paul di Resta (if they don't give him a drive, perhaps Liuzzi if he's dropped)
Sauber: Esteban Gutierrez (brings Carlos Slim's money with him, alongside race driver Sergio Perez)
Toro Rosso: Daniel Ricciardo (presumably)
Louts: Money McDollar
Virgin: see Lotus (or Jerome D'Ambrosio)
Hispania: see Virgin (or Christian Klien)

21 November 2010

2011 grid - 21/11/2010 edition

Car numbers tbc, drivers in CAPS confirmed in their teams.

Red Bull: 1 VETTEL, 2 WEBBER
Ferrari: 5 ALONSO, 6 MASSA
Mercedes: 7 SCHUMACHER, 8 ROSBERG (assuming Schumi's odd-number superstition holds)
Renault: 9 KUBICA, 10 Petrov (Rumours also of Sutil, Heidfeld, Glock and Ricciardo)
Williams: 11 BARRICHELLO, 12 Maldonado (tbc but almost certain)
Force India: 14 Sutil 15 Di Resta (Sutil looking elsewhere, Liuzzi, Chandhok and Hulkenberg also linked)
Sauber: 16 KOBAYASHI, 17 PEREZ
Toro Rosso: 18 BUEMI, 19 ALGUERSUARI
Lotus: 20 KOVALEINEN, 21 Trulli (possibly Heidfeld or Hulkenberg)
Hispania: 22 De La Rosa, 23 Senna (no certainties here, possibly Hulkenberg, Maldonado, Ricciardo, Petrov, Yamamoto, Klien, Chandhok or anyone with enough sponsorship)
Virgin: 24 Glock, 25 D'Ambrosio (Di Grassi, Petrov, Hulkenberg or any of the above who still need a drive.

That leaves 9 unconfirmed seats, but only 4 in good cars. 2 of these look likely to go to Di Resta and Maldonado and another (Renault or Force India) to Sutil, leaving the other Renault or Force India seat between Petrov (money), Liuzzi (2011 contract, supposedly), Glock (best unsigned of the new team drivers), Chandhok (Indian) or Hulkenberg (best prospect amongst the group). Your guess, however, is as good as mine.

For the 5 remaining "new team" seats we have all the drivers listed above, the drivers currently in the seats, any number of GP2 graduates with financial backing and the potential for Hispania to pick a Spaniard.

10 November 2010

This weekends battles

You may have heard about the fight for the drivers' title and I detail a short version of the permutations below, but that isn't the only thing up for grabs. The prize money in F1 is determined by constructors' championship position and there are some places up for grabs, some more so than others.

Realistically, drivers only care about winning titles. Having a 4th, an 8th or a 14th on your CV doesn't matter much, compared to one place higher or lower. Therefore I will only analyse the title hunt:

Alonso will win if:
  • He finishes 1st or 2nd
  • Webber finishes 2nd and Alonso finishes 4th (assuming Vettel wins) or 5th (otherwise)

Webber will win if:

  • He finishes 1st AND Alonso does not finish 2nd
  • He finishes 2nd AND Vettel does not win AND Alonso finishes 6th or lower

Vettel will win if:

  • He finishes 1st AND Alonso finishes 5th or lower
  • He finishes 2nd AND Alonso finishes 9th or lower AND Webber finishes 5th or lower

Hamilton will win if:

  • He wins AND Alonso does not score AND Webber finishes 6th or lower AND Vettel finishes 3rd or lower


  • Ferrari need to gain 32 points on McLaren (assuming a win) or a 2-3 finish with McLaren scoring no points at all to finish 2nd
  • Force India must outscore Williams by 2 points or by 1 if they achieve a 4th place finish to secure 6th, UNLESS
  • Sauber must outscore Force India by 24 points and Williams by 25 to join the battle for 6th
  • Toro Rosso must outscore Sauber by 33 points to finish 8th
  • Lotus, Virgin or Hispania must outscore Toro Rosso by 11 points to finish 9th
  • In the fight for 10th place Lotus will win UNLESS either Virgin or Hispania secure a top 11 finish
  • There is no prize money for 11th, so it doesn't matter much that Virgin require a 13th place finish or better to overtake Hispania

09 November 2010

End of season report cards - Sauber and Toro Rosso

Since this year's midfield (Mercedes, Renault, Williams, Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso) do not conveniently split into two equally sized groups (at time of writing 1 point separates Williams from Force India in the fight for 6th place in the constructors' championship). I am therefore dividing the group into 3 and write my season-reviews for the Sauber and Toro Rosso drivers here:

After each driver's name I will list their points total, their percentage of the team total (for races in which they drove) and their best three results.


Kamui Kobayashi: 32 points, 73%, 6th Britain, 7th Europe, 7th Japan
Kamui startled observers in his 2 races for Toyota at the end of last season, with aggresive driving against several of the sport's biggest names. He has repeated that this year, to a lesser extent. He has also completely outdriven Pedro De La Rosa, presumably forcing the Spaniard back into retirement, despite his many years as McLaren's favourite test driver. His standout performance was in Valencia, where he was on a contrarian strategy and ran in 3rd position for most of the race before a late pitstop and some desperate/delightful overtaking manouevres secured him 7th place from 18th on the grid.

Pedro De La Rosa: 6 points, 22%, 7th Hungary, 11th Belgium, 11th Turkey
Pedro had the worst start to the season of any driver in terms of reliability. He was unfortunate to be unable to start the Malaysian Grand Prix from 12th on the grid. Nothing, however, will spare him from the accusation that he was comprehensively outdone by a driver of little pre-F1 pedigree. He was therefore replaced by Nick Heidfeld after the Italian Grand Prix. Sauber's revival since this date also undermines his claim to be an excellent development driver.

Nick Heidfeld: 6 points, 35%, 8th Japan, 9th Korea, 17th Brazil
Despite having already run out of fresh engines before he even took the seat, Nick has more-or-less matched his teammate in his 4 races to date. The differences between the drivers can be put down to better/riskier strategies that have paid of for Kamui. He has probably done enough to prove that he is good enough for a senior race seat, but sadly, like many drivers, he doesn't bring the money that is needed for so many of them. It looks like he'll leave F1 with two records: most consecutive races without retiring (2008-9) and most starts without a race victory.

Toro Rosso:

Sebastien Buemi: 8 points, 73%, 8th Canada, 9th Valencia, 10th Monaco and Japan
Sebastien has been fairly anonymous all season, bar the occasional contact with other drivers. He has certainly outperformed his teammate, which is the first thing to do in Formula 1, but he hasn't shown anything exceptional that proves he should stay in the sport, given the stable of Red Bull drivers who would love his seat. Must do better.

Jaime Alguersuari: 3 points, 27%, 9th Malaysia, 10th Monaco, 11th five times
Thanks in part to superb reliability (only two retirements) Jaime holds the distinction of finishing just outside the points most frequently. Indeed he has more top-11 finishes than his teammate, but such things count for absolutely nothing in Formula 1. Given how well the season started, the lack of experience throughout the team (which has only recently been forced to design its own cars), perhaps the team needs some more experienced drivers, who could develop the cars throughout the season. Still very young, but may soon be another driver with "an excellent future behind him" (see also Jan Magnussen, Tommy Byrne, Anthony Davidson, Markus Winkelhock inter alia)

04 November 2010

End of season driver report cards - tailenders

I know the season hasn't yet finished, but feel enough time has passed to begin characterising the performance of the new teams' drivers. This is the first of 4 reviews, working from back to front, three teams at a time.

For the backmarkers I will list their best three results, further up the grid I will give points totals and best result and at the front I will list race victories.


Heikki Kovalienen: (12th Japan, 13th Korea, 13th Australia)
Has generally lead the 6 driver fight for 19th on the grid and has recorded the best results in races. Of all the drivers who went to the new teams, he has the most reason to be satisfied with his performances across 2010 and if it wasn't for the financial crisis and the return of the need for drivers to pay for all but the very top seats, he would fancy his chances at a promotion back to Renault or Force India. As it is, he is very likely to be driving a Renault-powered Lotus, which is currently predicted to be fighting the Toro Rossos for 9th in the constructors' championship.

Jarno Trulli: (13th Japan, 15th Monaco, 15th Hungary)
Has been the victim of more than his share of Lotus' reliability gremlins, but this doesn't mask the fact that he has also been outperformed fairly consistently by his teammate. Until this year he had a reputation as one of the best qualifiers in the sport, but has routinely been outdone on a Saturday by Heikki, who did not have this reputation before.


Timo Glock: (14th Japan, 16th Hungary, 17th Italy)
After a tough start to the season, where Virgin's fuel tank wasn't big enough for the team to finish a race, Timo has generally succeeded in taking the fight to the Lotuses. He has also consistently outperformed Lucas Di Grassi and was the last driver to lose his record of always outqualifying his teammate. He has certainly proved that he is worthy of a place in the sport. He has also been unlucky to be pushed off track when running amongst the "big boys" in Valencia and Korea, which has deprived him of two very strong results.

Lucas Di Grassi: (14th Malaysia, 15th Singapore, 17th Belgium and Europe)
Whilst he has better results than his teammate, this is more a reflection of luck than consistency. He has also had more than his fair share of accidents, particularly the recent smash before the Japanese Grand Prix even started. His place in the sport is almost certainly gone, since he has neither the sponsors, nor the performance to retain it.


Bruno Senna: (14th Korea, 15th Japan, 16th Malaysia and China)
Missed the British Grand Prix amidst rumours that his sponsors weren't paying, but more importantly got comprehensively outperformed by Christian Klien in the Austrian's first race for 4 years. Makes you wonder how he would have coped with the pressure, had he been chosen in Barrichello's place for the Brawn team last season. I suspect he might have cost the team both titles. Disappointing, given the expectation of his uncle's fans.

Karun Chandhok: (14th Australia, 14th Monaco, 15th Malaysia)
Had the best results for the Hispania team after his poor performance in Bahrain but was replaced after 10 races by Sakon Yamamoto, presumably for financial reasons. Has probably done enough to prove he's worth a place, but will need more funds to actually get one. He has also provided very useful insights on the BBC Red Button coverage of practice, so perhaps a career at the Beeb awaits. A pity, but he seems set to become the new Anthony Davidson.

Sakon Yamamoto: (15th Korea, 16th Japan, 19th Italy and Hungary)
Has been given many chances in the sport, by Super Aguri, Jordan and now Hispania, but has yet to outshine his teammate. Thankfully for him, he has the sort of funding that keeps tail-end teams alive, but it appears that Hispania are betting on Christian Klien's ability to score an 11th place, securing the team 10th place in the championship, as a better means of safeguarding the team's future as the Austrian has been brought in for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Christian Klien: (retired in Singapore)
Outqualified Senna, then ran nearly a second a lap faster until his retirement in Singapore, the Austrian former Red Bull protege has shown that he is still a good driver. His recall for Brazil shows the faith the team has in him and may earn him a chance to race for a 2011 drive.

15 September 2010

2011 grid - by rumour

With numbers based on current championship standings:

RED BULL: 1. Webber, 2. Vettel.
McLAREN: 3. Hamilton, 4. Button
FERRARI: 5. Alonso, 6. Massa
MERCEDES: 7. Schumacher, 8. Rosberg (if we believe Schumi's superstition about odd numbers)
RENAULT: 9. Kubica, 10. Raikkonen (how good would that be, alternatively Petrov)
FORCE INDIA: 11. Sutil, 12. Liuzzi (Liuzzi surely under threat, but has apparently signed)
WILLIAMS: 14. Barrichello, 15. Hulkenberg (Rubens began his career in car #14)
SAUBER: 16. Heidfeld, 17. Kobayashi
TORO ROSSO: 18. Buemi, 19. Alguersuari (surely time for both to prove themselves or give up)
LOTUS: 20. Kovaleinen, 21. Trulli (although Petrov may be placed here by Renault)
VIRGIN: 22. Glock, 23. D'Ambrosio (subject to Glock not getting better drive and latter finding sponsorship)
HISPANIA: 24. De La Rosa, 25. Senna (subject to sufficient Spanish sponsorship, presumably)

Hard done by drivers:
1. Chandhok - did all that could be expected of him, but money talks at the back of the grid
2. Maldonado - won GP2 title, which is usually enough to secure a seat. He even has Nicolas Todt for an agent, so expect him to appear if someone loses their seat for sponsorship reasons.

Lucky drivers:
1. Massa - has underperformed this year, returning to his pre-2008 form. There are probably 6 or 7 drivers in slower cars who'd love his Ferrari seat.
2. Schumacher - won't make any pundit's "top 10 drivers of the year" list, perhaps he'll make a "shock" retirement announcement at the end of the season.
3. Liuzzi - Force India would do well to pick up Chandhok (Indian after all) or Maldonado in his place, but probably won't.
4=. Both Toro Rosso drivers - neither has shown any exceptional talent, so I would expect Red Bull to try and place another of its drivers (Chandhok?) in their place, but there's no sign of that happening.
6. Trulli - outclassed by Kovaleinen all year long and hasn't the "rookie" excuse that other overshadowed drivers (Hulkenberg, Petrov) could more validly use.
7. De La Rosa - if it is true that Hispania are so desperate for experience/someone Spanish/sponsorship that they'd take him on