While the F1 crowd is off to a month long holiday (well the factories are only closed for two weeks) any F1 news will quickly start dying down untill all that is left by mid-August will be some unfounded rumors of this or that driver being ‘in the picture’ at an F1 team for a 2013 seat. August is where the silly season will really kick into gear as there is not other news to report.
As we are no different at backmarkers, and after some prodding on twitter, I figured I’d slap up a post with my dream grid for 2013, and invite you to do the same in the comments below. In fact, it will not be a total fantasy grid but more like a wishlist while keeping in mind the realistic possibilities for 2013. For instance, with Webber re-signing it is clear no Red Bull seat will be available next year.
I’ve tried writing this a few times before but it gets really hard when you try to factor in which young drivers you want to give a rookie season in F1, and which guys you really want to see move up to more competitive machinery. One thing which wasn’t very hard for me was to decide which driver I’d have pulling ovals in NASCAR or Lada racing instead of another F1 season.
True to the blog’s name, let’s start off with the backmarker teams first:
Alguersuari – Razia
The fledgling team clearly wants to go Spanish, and while Pedro is a likeable guy and his long experience as a test driver could be valuable, with an eye to the future Jaime is the obvious choice. He probably deserves a better seat but I don’t see many other options available to him. After a year on the sidelines he’s probably desperate enough to accept an HRT seat as well. Pedro can even stay on as an advisor to help guide the project, but get him out of that seat. Alongside Jaime I’d put a young gun to get a taste of F1. It’s no gift to be handed such an uncompetitive car as a rookie, but guys like Pic at Marussia are showing that you can still impress in them if you can beat your teammate. However HRT needs money more than anything else so they’ll need a pay driver rookie, the likes of Razia would therefore be a good choice for them. I’m not particularly a fan of Razia but he’s got money and a decent amount of talent so would be a good choice for HRT. Narain should go spend his rupis elsewhere, while he’s not embarassing himself, aside from his nationality he brings nothing to F1.
Pic – Glock
A bit unspectacular to stick with the same line-up but I believe it is the best way forward for the team. Pic’s performances should really let him escape the fate of former Marussia rookies Di Grassi and D’Ambrosio of getting dumped after 1 year as the team found a bigger wallet to squeeze out despite more than decent seasons for both. However Pic is the one who has shown more than his predecessors that he has what it takes to handle the experienced Glock, regularly beating him already in the first half of the season. Of course one could wonder how motivated Glock still is driving a dog of a car for 3 years running, but that doesnt take away from Pic’s performances. On top of it Pic comes with a good sponsorship package so they would be foolish to let him go. Marussia should be happy to have a driver of Glock’s caliber and since he can’t really go anywhere else he’s kind of doomed to stay on and improve the team if he ever wants to get close to the points again.
Rossi – Kovalainen
I was a bit torn on what to do with Heikki as he does deserve another crack at a good ride, but on the other hand not many drivers can say they drove for Renault and Mclaren. granted the Renault wasn’t a great car but still relatively competitive, and at Mclaren well he just got destroyed by Hamilton. While Caterham has been disappointing this season, still not having made that definite step up into the midfield, they are doing all the right things, hiring the right people and setting up a good structure so they will get there eventually. Heikki has been an integral part of the team since the launch and therefore I’d like to see him take those first points for the team. With F1 set to attempt to conquer America (again), it would be a smart move to promote Alexander Rossi to an F1 race seat as well. While not setting WSR alight this year, he is doing well in a startup team there and has shown to possess some real talent. Therefore Petrov can go ice rink racing again.
Ricciardo – Vergne
I was kind of tempted to say Carlos Sainz jr should get that seat but as has been shown with Alguersuari, throwing a youngster in the deep end like that has a very high risk of burning them and he would be much better served with some more higher level junior series experience as he is still very young and has time on his side. While neither STR driver has particularly impressed me this year, the car they were handed was definitely not a gift either. Vergne however has been quite a big disappointment to me. I was expecting great things from him in F1 but so far he is mostly making a name for himself as a very bad qualifier. The move he pulled on Heikki in Valencia didn’t convince the world of the quality of his racing brain either. Perhaps the teams decision to run two rookies is not heliping as they seems to be going nowhere in terms of car development either as they have the Caterhams at their heels. I’d give both of them another year to settle in and start proving that they have what it takes to take Webbo’s seat when he finally retires. They have their work cut out for them..
Paul Di Resta -James Calado
A bit of a punt on this one, with of course everybody knowing that Bianchi is the man waiting in the wings for Force India this year. While Jules can boast a good junior series record, he seems to have tailed off in the past 2 years, and he hasn’t been particularly impressive in the practice outings he’s had with the team. Binning it on his first winter test day wasn’t exactly endearing him to the team either I’m sure. I’m venturing more into ‘wishful thinking’ territory here by appointing Calado to the Indian squad. Completely under my radar last year in GP3, He has been hugely impressive in his rookie season in GP2, and if not for some rotten luck would be higher up in the standings. We can fault Mallya for many things but one thing FI does is choose its drivers on merit alone, and in that case Calado’s lack of sponsor money becomes less crippling. The second surprise at the team is the disappearance of Hulkenberg and Di Resta staying put. IT will make more sense as we go up the grid as I’m not taking the Hulk out of F1… While Di Resta is probably in pole position for Schumacher’s Merc seat, after a tough first few races to adapt to F1 racing again, I believe the hulk will start showing Di Resta who’s boss…and he’s German. I like Di Resta and think he’s a very competent driver, but do also believe he’s a tad overrated by the british dominated f1 media.
Bottas – Raikkonen
The line up they should have already had this year actually. I still cannot believe they passed up the opportunity to have Kimi in the Williams. It probably is good for Bottas though that he got a year to mature and get used to an F1 car with the Friday outings as the jump up from GP3 is huge. Pastor may be a Grand Prix winner now and has some raw speed ‘for sure’, but his behavior on and off track should really see him out of a seat. Very much wishful thinking for Raikkonen to switch from Lotus, especially after last years’ aborted negotiations so realistically it will be Pastor and Bottas in the car, with Bruno probably having spent his last season in an f1 car unless he can dramatically turn the tables on Pastor in the 2nd half of the season.
Kobayashi – Gutierrez
Perez is destined for better things and with that second Ferrari seat becoming untenable for Massa there’s only one way to go for Sergio and that’s to Ferrari. Kobayashi is showing he definetely has the skill and bravery, but does seem to be lacking that last extra tenth which makes a guy like Perez a potential superstar and will leave him as ‘just’ a good driver. That said Kamui can put in some great drives in his day and his performances are good enough to warrant another year in the car. With Perez gone, Sauber will need to keep the pesos flowing and with Gutierrez already on their books he’s the only logical replacement for Perez. His performance on track in GP2 also warrant a proper stab at F1 for the youngster.
Rosberg – Hulkenberg
The Nico Bergs will rule at Mercedes in 2013. Schumacher should head into retirement now that he’s had his comeback podium in Valencia and leave F1 to the youngsters. Even though I’m about to hit old fart territory myself as I’m heading into my thirties tomorrow, this is not sport for 44 year olds. As I hinted at above I believe the Hulk will get the final word in at FI in the showdown to see who gets to replace Schumi in the silver arrow. Di Resta may be a long standing Mercedes protege but another all German line-up would still be very enticing to Norbert Haug.
Grosjean – Bianchi
This was a bit of a tricky one to decide with Raikkonen leaving to Williams but I found his stand in with Jules Bianchi. With Boullier not afraid to take a punt on discredited young drivers (though in Bianchi’s case it’s a bit of a stretch to call him discredited, his stock has just fallen a bit over the past 2 years) and he will do so again with Jules. Being French also helps. Bianchi will be pissed off by seeing Perez promoted to the Ferrari seat instead of himself as the former wonderboy of the scuderia untill that pesky Mexican came along, so he will turn his back on them and take this chance with both hands. As said he’s been quite disappointing the past 2 years, but has shown some serious talent in the past and should get a shot.
Alonso – Perez
Well I don’t think I’ll be surprising anyone massively here. I’ve said it a million times in a thousand different ways: Felipe has to go. Goodbye Felipe baby, you came close, but no cigar. One would be pants on head retarded to do away with Alonso and as explained earlier Perez would be a good sidekick. He’s probably not going to challenge Alonso consistently just yet, but will be much more able than Felipe to take points off the competition and pick up the pieces if ever Alonso would trip up. Also with Felipe doing so horribly the pressure won’t be that high on him…it’s hard to do worse…
Button – Hamilton
Boring I know but at this point there are just no realistic alternatives. I was toying with the idea of shifting Lewis over to Williams and while it would be a huge challenge – in the same league as Schumachers’ move to Ferrari in 96 to rebuild a fledgling but once great team- I just don’t see it in Lewis character. The door to Red Bull is shut with Webber re-signing and Ferrari would never risk having two number ones in their cars and unsettle Alonso. Button could also be a dark horse for the Ferrari seat but I don’t see him signing up to the docile no.2 driver role as his time at Mclaren with Lewis has proven he doesn’t just roll over for his teammate.
Vettel – Webber
I would have preferred to see Webber retire and Hamilton move to give Red Bull a proper teammate war but alas the Aussia bastard has chosen to put another year in. Who can blame him ofcourse in a season where he’s back on form and still in with a shot at the title. Vettel is still married to Red Bull for the time being so has no reason just yet to move. Neither of the 2 youngsters at STR are showing they are ready for it, and Buemi will just be good for being the simulator slave for eternity.
All this makes it pretty boring at the top sadly enough.
Since the break is so agonizingly long we invite you all to join in on the fun and send in your wishes for the silly season so we have a bunch of fun stuff to read during the off-time and see where the backmarkersF1 crowd allegiances are.
Write up a post with your grid wishlist and send it to backmarkersf1 [at] yahoo [dot] com and we will post it up here! You can also send nude pictures in support of your application – in fact, it’s recommended – because it’s Matt opening that mail account anyway so give it your best #BallsyBoullier.