Most of the news and rumours recently have been team related and their ownership. First up the Team Lotus Renault / Lotus Renault saga could finally be at an end with Tony Fernandes getting a chunk of Malaysia’s national air carrier and will concentrate it on the upper end of the market leaving his Air Asia brand to compete in the budget sector. This deal however is said to include him handing over the Team Lotus rights, which it makes very little sense for Fernandes to continue with. Group Lotus the car company need the heritage to promote their cars, the Lotus brand is great in F1 but it’s not the real Team Lotus after all.
However Fernandes is going to call his F1 team Team Caterham which has a nice synergy to it as Caterham cars came from Lotus originally and the F1 enthusiast market is the exact sector the small performance company aims at. This will leave the Renault team to re-name their chassis Lotus and still confuse everyone how Lotus shot up to the front of the grid. This has all been apparent for a while since the Team Lotus cars feature massive Caterham branding on their side and practically no Lotus branding what so ever.
Scuderia Torro Rosso have recived substantial investment from the UAE (you may have seen nova chemicals on their which they own part of) and their spanish owned oil arm will emblazen the cars this year. There has been conflicting reports about the team being bought out and becoming Team UAE with a development base at the Abu Dhabi Yas Marina island circuit. But the team are in the process of moving into an expensive new facility in Italy complete with wind tunnel and have made no hints that the team will be renamed. But if the team has been sold it does explain why Red Bull went looking for another development seat at HRT for Ricciardo rather than using their own development team.
HRT have been very quiet since being bought out by Thesan Capital other than dropping the Hispania tag for the rest of the year. I really hope they rename themselves to something other than Hormone Replacement Therapy because its a hilariously unfortunate name for a racing team in the English-speaking world. I’d expect the team to move to a permanent base in Spain (at least announce a move) and probably rename the team in the close season, but I reckon they’d do well to hold onto their driver line-up for next year if the funds are there. Furthermore they may need to find a new technical partner as Williams are moving to Renault power from next year but they may be able to use the Williams 2011 rear end package until the 2014 engine switch.
Marussia Virgin (who are possibly another team looking to re-brand the chassis) are introducing a large update this weekend at Monza which will be the first overseen in part by Pat Symonds. Its a comprehensive update for the team who have had little development since the team split with Nick Wirth due to poor results. Initially the update was discarded but once Symonds became familiar with the car and CFD it has been updated and produced. “It is engine cover, sidepods, exhaust, and rear floor. Obviously there will be a Monza wing as well, but this bodywork package will be on for the rest of the year. It will pull the whole back of the car in much tighter. ” – John Booth, Team Principle
Williams continue their slide into obscurity with the rumour that they are weighing up taking on a second pay driver instead of experienced Reubens Barrichello next season. And their number 2 paying driver has been going so well this year……
Next season there are very few seats available as Sauber, Team Lotus, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Merecedes are all expected to keep their driver line-ups intact. But the 10 big names looking for a drive next year are:
- Nico Hulkenberg – He should get a drive if there is a god but a lack of sponsorship from a German heavy grid could hold him back
- Romain Grosjean – Destroyed GP2 this year and has now won everything in the junior categories, he has attoned well for his failed attempt back in 2009
- Bruno Senna – Doing the same as Romain and sitting in for the second half of the season at Renault. However he already has 1 season under his belt and has secured a lot of Brazilian Reals to support his drive. So far so good after one weekend behind the wheel too
- Karun Chandok – The other doomed HRT driver has had one trip out in the Team Lotus car this year, which was a disaster. We expect to see him in India for the race but he better put in a better performance than last time.
- Giedo Van de Garde – A distant second to Grosjean but likely to take another season in GP2 with the reserve spot at Sauber held down
- Jules Bianchi – The Ferrari development driver hasn’t shone as much as the Scuderia would of probably liked. Has a face off with Sergio Perez soon in a 2009 Ferrari.
- Charles Pic – An abundance of Frenchmen this year on the grid and a decent campaign from Pic should put him in the spot for at least some form of reserve roll next year.
- Nick Heidfeld – Probably has had too many chances and there are rumours that his development work does not suit most other drivers. But if someone needs experience theres few others to turn to
- Esteban Gutiérrez – Pick of the rookies in GP2 this year with a win in Valencia, one for the Future one would assume
- Sam Bird – Mercedes supported Britian has a battle on his hands with so many top pilots queing up for the Silver Arrows