This week has seen the Formula One Driver Market going into overdrive, only for it to settle down slightly with two more 2014 line ups being confirmed.
Lotus 2013 Driver Line-up
However one of the most newsworthy driver changes was in regard to the rest of the 2013 season, where Kimi Raikkonen declared that he won’t be racing in the last two races of 2013 due to needing to have a back operation. Many F1 related journalists thought that it would be a formality that Lotus reserve driver, Davide Valsecchi, would be confirmed for the last two races. He is after all the 2012 GP2 Champion and is considered talented enough to drive for the likes of Lotus. However Lotus decided to try and sign a driver who is proven to be slightly more competitive, which is understandable as they are still in a fight with the likes of Ferrari in the Constructor’s championship. Reports suggested that Lotus had talked to Nico Hulkenberg and Michael Schumacher regarding their vacant seat. Michael wasn’t interested and Nico declined citing that it was too much of a risk, which would suggest that Lotus are still waiting for Quantum (a consortium that has bought into the Lotus team) to ‘show them the money’ as it were.
Lotus therefore decided to go for Heikki Kovalainen who had driven for the Enstone team when they were fully owned by Renault. I personally am happy to see Heikki back racing, and will be intrigued to see how well he does in the final two races, having stated in the past that he has improved as a driver and that only the Caterham package was letting him down. Heikki has also stated that his most likely destination for a 2014 drive would be at Caterham where he has spent most of the year as a reserve driver, participating in a few of the free practice sessions.
2014 Driver Line-ups
The bigger picture of the 2014 driver line ups was made slightly clearer during the week as well with Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas being confirmed at Williams for next year. It will be interesting to see how well Massa does at Williams where he will hopefully be given more support than he did at Ferrari. This will give us an idea of how competitive and consistent Massa really is.
With Williams confirming their 2014 driver line up, this leaves Pastor Maldonado without a drive, but more on him a bit later.
The other 2014 driver line up to be confirmed during this week was McLaren’s, where Jenson Button will be partnered by Kevin Magnussen who is a McLaren backed driver, and has won this years Formula Renault 3.5 series championship, which is a junior formula that up and coming drivers compete in. Although I believe Sergio Perez may have deserved another year at McLaren, I look forward to seeing how Magnussen does next year alongside Button, as he has been praised within McLaren and in the F1 media as being a top talent.
The Driver Market now
With Mclaren and Williams announcing their driver line ups this leaves Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado without teams for the 2014 season. They both have some backing and therefore have become big players in the driver market. When McLaren announced their driver line up Perez was almost immediately linked with Force India, Maldonado on the other hand has been linked with Sauber, Lotus and Force India.
The driver market has thankfully got moving again during the week, attention will now be focused on Lotus, Force India and Sauber to see who they will choose to hire for 2014.