End of the road
Two races to go and the 2011 Formula 1 season is winding down. The champion is crowned, Red Bull have conquered again and the midfield squabbling is almost over.
Thoughts have therefore naturally shifted to the 2012 campaign; customer cars, tyre performance, a race in the States and new television deals are all on the agenda. On the driver line-up front there’s not much – at the sharp end at least – to see. Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari are all sewn up, meaning one has to look further down the grid for any potential seat swapping.
Force India will surely opt for the exciting and fresh-faced Nico Hulkenberg to partner Paul di Resta. The eternally disappointing but cash-rich Adrian Sutil will take his millions elsewhere.
For just how many years does an F1 driver remain “promising”? Sutil has had his chance, flattering to deceive on so many occasions and now thoroughly eclipsed by di Resta, F1’s rookie of the season.
Perhaps the German will take his money and denim shorts to the charisma-free zone that is Williams? Sometimes swift but most times not, Pastor Maldonado won’t be going anywhere so long as the Grove outfit need his money; so that must mean it’s the overdue end of the F1 road for Rubens Barrichello. On track the Brazilian is a shadow of his former self, and even he must surely feel time has run its course. In the paddock, Rubens’ demeanour is far from that of the happy and relaxed guy of recent years. Life at his lush Sao Paolo farm beckons.
If the Williams choice is Maldonado and Sutil I’m sure Frank’s marketing men will relish the chance to publicise such an un-PR-able pair!
Far better to go for the 2007 F1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen. Not everyone’s cup of tea but he’d surely spice things up a degree or three both on the track and off it.
Likable Australian Daniel Ricciardo should certainly get a race seat at Toro Rosso and Sebastien Buemi is most likely to make way. Jaime Alguersuari seems a better fit all round and has certainly upped his game of late.
Not that exciting really.
If only Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes would see sense we might have more to get excited about. Felipe Massa is not the racer he once was, eclipsed by team-mate Fernando Alonso to such a degree it’s embarrassing. Jarno Trulli is so far past his sell-by-date as to make one wonder what Lotus/Caterham owner Tony Fernandes and his technical chief Mike Gascoyne are thinking. And Michael Schumacher, looking like the oldest swinger in town, is still fruitlessly chasing dreams of beating men a decade or two his junior.
Roll on 2013!