The silly season so far has been quite a bust, with nothing really interesting happening until lately. Rumors are starting to swirl, mostly focusing on Force India, Williams, and Virgin to a lesser extent. This is going to be a mega post, frequently updated with what you guys think. Where should Rubens go? What about Kubica? What about new teams? Shoot me a comment, tweet, whatever and I’ll add you opinion here. Let’s go!
This post is the first of 3, with this one focusing on the top four teams.
My opinion: Sebastian Vettel/Lewis Hamilton
Right off the bat I’m treading into controversial territory here. I’m a McLaren fan, that’s no secret, but I’m an even bigger Hamilton fan. I believe that 2011 is going to be the “slump year” for Hamilton. He seems to be dealing with some personal demons both on and off track, and I like to think his performance in Korea is him on an upswing. You may not appreciate his aggressive driving, but you cannot deny Hamilton is one of the fastest racers out there. He has an ability only two other current racers have. He can take a car that’s complete crap and somehow finish far above where the car should. I think that Red Bull would benefit from having someone on their team who is willing to take the risks to put the car ahead, and with Hamilton on board they can dominate even harder than they did this year. It’s a win/win.
The second of these three is the man I want for Hamilton’s teammate at Red Bull. Vettel is an amazing talent. I’ve been critical of him in the past, but it seems anything I critique he comes along the next race and shows me how wrong I am. I once said I hoped and prayed we would not see another repeat of a Schumacher era, but you know, I wouldn’t mind with this guy. Racing skill aside, Seb is an amazingly nice guy who always seems humbled and genuine in interviews. He’s not taking his results for granted or shoving it in everyone’s face (his finger does that for him). I started off the season rolling my eyes when he won. Now, I actually like the guy.
JourneyTH Says: Sebastian Vettel/Lewis Hamilton
Yeah, I really like this one as well, not because I particularly care for either of them (although, props to both – Hamilton is still a fantastic driver and so is Vettel). None of them are used to be #2, so we could see a repeat of 2007, except with less douchebaggery – that would be fun.
Gareth Says: Sebastian Vettel/Lewis Hamilton
I agree with the Red Bull scenario, certainly giving Hamilton’s gripes earlier this season, but if it happens it may not be for awhile. Both those guys are young and have a good ten years at the top yet.
Jan Says: Redbull: Sebastian Vettel/Mark Webber
Already a good lineup (beside of the fact that they aren’t friends)
My opinion: Jenson Button/Mark Webber
These two are the thinkers of F1 and would make perfect teammates. Neither has the flamboyance of someone like Hamilton or Kobayashi, but they are consistent, solid drivers. Webber may have the raw speed advantage over Jenson, but Button’s is the superior driver when the weather gets interesting. Moreover, both are used to being #2 drivers, meaning they will be much more obliging to each other on track. If McLaren sorts their team issues (detailed in a great post by Steve) these two could take them all the way to the top once again.
JourneyTH Says: Jenson Button/Mark Webber
Dream team, here. Yeah, this isn’t really a good strategy for McLaren in the long run, but who cares? These guys are clearly friends, both excellent drivers and, well, to see two out of three of my favorite drivers in one team would be amazing.
Gareth Says: Jenson Button/???
I don’t see much in Webber going to Mclaren. He’s not that far off retirement (discounting Schumacher) and I don’t see much in it for Mclaren long term to be honest. Webber is one of my favourite drivers but he could well stay at RB until he retires.
Jan Says: Mclaren: Jenson Button/Lewis Hamilton
Good relationship between Button and Hamilton
My opinion: Fernando Alonso/Robert Kubica or Sergio Perez
Fernando is a given at Ferrari, what with a contract until 2016 and a solid performance given a shit car. Alonso is the third driver in the trio I described earlier. That’s all there is to say about Alonso really. He’s fast, consistent, exactly what Ferrari need right now. Obviously Kubica’s return depends on his condition, but that’s not the only reason I put him or Sergio.
Ferrari and McLaren operate best under completely opposite driver setups. While McLaren is at its best with equal driver treatment, Ferrari function best with a defined #1 and #2 driver. Both approaches have their advantages, but Ferrari’s is where I see trouble for Kubica. Prior to his injury, I think given a Ferrari drive he would be serious competition for Alonso, not a willing participant for the “bend over and take it” role we’ve seen Massa assume. 2007 showed us how Alonso takes to teammates trying to prove themselves, and so while I think Kubica is the best fit for Ferrari, Kubica may not be the best fit for Alonso (who it seems, according to their Twitter, is Ferrari).
The second possibility is to have Perez take the spot. He’s young, is having a great rookie season, and seems to have Marenello’s graces. Being that he’ll still be a rook in 2012, Sergio would have no problem playing second fiddle to Alonso if it means driving for a team with the legendary status Ferrari has. A year or two with them should give Perez a better negotiating position to jump to a team that will allow him to progress, or push for more equal driver status.
A note, I’d rather see Perez as a third in Ferrari than a Sauber driver.
JourneyTH Says: Fernando Alonso/Sergio Perez
I know it’s not happening, but dammit, this would be a lot of fun to watch. I guess we’ll just have to wait for 2013.
Gareth Says: Fernando Alonso/Mark Webber
If Ferrari ever want to win another Constructor title they need two strong drivers (like Mclaren now) to have any chance. Alonso can’t do it by himself. Perez cold be interesting but will probably end up having a Massa type role. Seeing Button there could be interesting too, but it may never happen. Perhaps Webber short term while Perez matures a bit at Sauber?
Jan Says: Ferrari: Fernando Alonso/Nico Rosberg
Rosberg has the pace; maybe he can show his real potential
My opinion: Michael Schumacher/Nico Rosberg
I don’t see any need to change Mercedes’ setup. Most of their current problems revolve around chronic car issues, mostly involving rubbers in the rear heating up too much. With Mercedes pledging the 2012 car will fix these issues, we may see a return to form for the German giant. Alright, maybe not Brawn GP level stuff, but challenging for podiums could be a distinct possibility if the car performs how Mercedes have been advertising. Rosberg still has much to prove, having performed well enough in 2011 to step out of Keke’s shadow. Schumacher is Schumacher, and his experience and potential advertiser/commercial draw is too much for Merc to pass up. No change for Mercedes.
JourneyTH Says: Michael Schumacher/Nico Rosberg
Jan Says: Michael Schumacher/Felipe Massa
Were friends at Ferrari
To wrap up:
VET: Red Bull
WEB: Red Bull -> McLaren
HAM: McLaren -> Red Bull
MAS: Ferrari -> Out of Sharp End
KUB: Renault/Lada/Smirnoff or -> Ferrari
PER: Sauber -> Ferrari