In 2012 the top 4 teams (Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes) will field the same driver line up for the 3rd consecutive year in a row. Elsewhere down the grid only Daniel Ricciardo and Bruno Senna moving from one seat to another (HRT – STR & Renault – Williams) while everyone else is either returning or retaining with only 2 real rookies to speak of (Charles Pic & Jean Eric-Vergne).
The two drivers that are moving teams only raced 1/2 a season with Ricciardo being sponsored for 6 months with the explicit plan of running him in 2012. Bruno Senna got promoted to a race seat after showing promise in the Renault team and with Nick Heidfeld faultering the team placed him in the car with the help of a few sponsors.
But while the front of the gird has stuck with consistency the same cannot be said as you head towards the back. But the teams are opting to run experienced racers rather than rookies, with Lotus (formerly Renault) running former world champion Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Force India have promoted Nico Hulkenberg to a race seat after he drove FP1’s for the team last year (no shame there an obvious choice) while Sauber and Caterham have kept their drivers. HRT have even plonked for the steady hands of Pedro De La Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan rather than hiring young blood.
But it must be a worry that no driver has moved into a top team since 2010, however there is hope for the drivers on the grid yet. Micheal Schumacher has to be nearing the end of his second career and Massa & Webber are under pressure to perform to retain their seats further. Another talking point is Lewis Hamilton is out of contract at the end of the season and is likely to dominate any silly season talks.
As for day 2 at the testing, Schumacher topped the time sheets in last years Mercedes while Mark Webber lead the new cars:
|1||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes W02||1’18.561||132|
|2||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault RB8||1’19.184||97||0.623|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso-Ferrari STR7||1’19.587||100||1.026|
|4||Jules Bianchi||Force India-Mercedes VJM05||1’20.221||46||1.660|
|5||Kimi Raikkonen||Lotus-Renault E20||1’20.239||117||1.678|
|6||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes VJM05||1’20.272||69||1.711|
|7||Felipe Massa||Ferrari F2012||1’20.454||95||1.893|
|8||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes MP4-27||1’20.688||85||2.127|
|9||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari C31||1’20.711||68||2.150|
|10||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault FW34||1’21.197||97||2.636|
|11||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham-Renault CT01||1’21.518||139||2.957|
|12||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth F111||1’22.128||64||3.567|