We entered the last month of 2008 Formula 1 season and after a short period of silence the drivers market there seems to be a lot happening on drivers market.
Williams team confirmed yesterday their 2009 drivers line up will remain the same as this year – Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima. Rosberg’s drive has been confirmed for a while already, Nakajima being the Toyota boy doing a decent rookie job was expected to continue. No real surprises here.
It is getting quite interesting in Renault. At the moment it looks like the chances of Alonso staying are bigger than te chances of him leaving for Honda or BMW Sauber. We still however have to wait and even Alonso’s Singapore win may not make the waiting time shorter. One thing is obvious though, Renault want Fernando to stay.
Nelson Piquet’s position is rather different. He clearly hasn’t impressed and unlike in Kovalainen’s case last year there was not any late season performance surge. Flavio Briatore:
“Piquet hasn’t had a good championship so far. He does good things before qualifying, and then he doesn’t go the way he should. We’ll see…”
And so Renault guys are looking around for options and they seem to have plenty. The number 1 replacement candidate is emerging to be Lucas di Grassi. This Brazilian driver entered the GP2 season quite late but still managed to finish third behind Pantano and Senna. He also did well in Jerez testing for Renault, obviously impressing the team. Then there is also the other Renault tester and GP2 driver, Romain Grosjean….
The rumours are that Briatore is already looking for some alternative employment for Nelson Piquet, offering him to Toro Rosso. But that sounds like a long shot to me. Toro Rosso would hardly select Piquet for any reason other than money. And when it comes to money and marketability he would have to beat Sato there … I does look like Piquet may have to return to some testing role next year …
When talking about Renault – Toro Rosso connection there is also a talk about Sebastien Bourdais possibly moving to Renault next year. Anything can happen in F1 but this looks like pure speculation only … Although, if Alonso leaves, there will be plenty of room in Renault …
The other interesting news that came out in recent days was the admission of Honda’s Nick Fry that he has been talking with Nick Heidfeld and that exchanged more than just “hello”. Hm, not what Rubens Barrichello wants to hear … At the same time Fry repeated again Honda is still interested in services of Fernando Alonso, should he leave his Renault home. He also remotely advised Alonso against joing the BMW Sauber rivals:
“Fernando found that McLaren is rigid, and BMW is even worse.”
So the 2009 Formula 1 grid is slowly filling up but at the same time more question marks are appearing the closer we get to the season finale. This is one of the possibilities how the 2009 grid may look according to the latest round of speulations, although especially that Renault line up looks extremely unlikely to me:
Ferrari – Massa, Raikkonen
McLaren – Hamilton, Kovalainen
BMW Sauber – Kubica, Alonso
Renault – Bourdais, Di Grassi
Toyota – Glock, Trulli
Toro Rosso – Sato, Buemi
Red Bull – Vettel, Webber
Honda – Button, Heidfeld
Williams – Nakajima, Rosberg
Force India – Fisichella, Sutil
You can follow the actual 2009 Formula 1 Drivers Line Up development on the 2009 season page.
For a time being we still have all the teams racing with the same drivers that started the 2008 season (except Super Aguri guys of course).
Photos: Williams/LAT, Red Bull/GEPA, BMW Motorsports