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As F1 has reached its summer break, I thought I would take a first look at how the driver market is shaping up for 2011. After the widespread merry-go-round of last winter, we can expect fewer changes for next year. However, there are still many drivers who will need to impress in the latter stages of 2010 in order to retain their drive next year. Furthermore, there are a few young drivers on form and looking to join the grid next year.

Let's start at the top. McLaren will retain their pairing of Lewis and Jenson, while Red Bull have both Vettel and Webber under contract, so it will take another favouritism row to make Webber up sticks and look elsewhere. Ferrari meanwhile took the paddock by surprise by resigning Felipe Massa despite being generally slower than his teammate Alonso. At Mercedes, Nico Rosberg has impressed and is set to remain with the team. Michael Schumacher has another two seasons on his contract with the team, but questions have been asked about whether he should continue with his comeback. Mercedes reserve Nick Heidfeld is a man who has a lot of experience of getting podium finishes out of unworthy cars from his years with Sauber and Williams, and would most likely step into any void left by Schumacher.

Renault have managed to resign Robert Kubica, while the pressure is on Vitaly Petrov to retain his seat alongside the Pole. Like most of us, the team have been satisfied with the rookie's performance, but are aiming high and are exploring their options. Heidfeld, who Renault turned down in favour of Petrov back in February, and Force India's Adrian Sutil are both options for them, while they have also been linked to another German Timo Glock, despite him being under contract with Virgin. The new team are unlikely to offer much resistence though if Glock wanted to leave the team.

At Williams, Rubens Barrichello intends to stick around with the team for his 19th season in F1, while Nico Hulkenberg has started to put in some consistent performances after a disappointing start to his first season.

While Force India would want to hold on to Sutil, he could well be tempted to move to a bigger team like Renault. Tonio Liuzzi is under threat from Paul di Resta for the second seat, while Karun Chandhok could prove a popular signing in the team's 'home' country with the first Indian GP coming in 2011.

Sauber are still without any major sponsors and this could put pressure on both Kamui Kobayashi and, in particular, the ageing Pedro de la Rosa. The two drivers heading the GP2 standings, Pastor Maldonado and Sergio Perez, are both backed by companies from their home nations Venezuela and Mexico. Both PDVSA and Telmex are known in Europe for their willingness to back drivers from the two countries. Furthermore, Mexican Esteban Gutierrez is a Sauber development driver, and he too is backed by Telmex.

Toro Rosso look set to retain both Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, although Buemi could yet be tempted by a move to a bigger team and has been linked with Renault. Tester Daniel Ricciardo is next in line from the Red Bull Junior scheme.

Lotus have both Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen under contract next year, while Virgin have Timo Glock, and have been impressed with Lucas di Grassi's performances so far this season.

Hispania's future is in doubt, and would be looking for the right mix of talent and funding for their drivers.

A 13th team is set to gain entry for 2011. The three teams we know to be in the running are Stefan GP (who signed Kazuki Nakajima as part of their optimistic attempt to join the grid for 2010), Villeneuve-Durango (for whom Jacques himself will driver) and Epsilon Euskadi. Maldonado and Perez's mix of talent and money could prove useful for all of these team
 


Comments

02/04/2011 9:00am

Strong in action, gentle in method.

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26/01/2012 2:26am

Great info, thx

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27/01/2012 8:19pm

Thanks for details

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25/03/2012 10:42pm

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16/07/2012 9:40pm

Appreciate your information

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