The following material was sent in as part of our silly season bonanza here at BackmarkersF1. We should get a cast out soon enough, don’t worry. 😉
Life has been interesting on my end over the last few weeks, but everything should be sorted soon enough. Sorry for being semi-incommunicado. Enough of that though, let’s hear what good ol’ Valentin thinks about the potential drivers for 2013.
So, a couple of days ago, Steve was whining on Twitter about how hard it is to compile a grid wishlist, being forced to choose between favoured drivers to leave some of them without a seat and all that jazz. Being Backmarkers F1’s resident contrarian half-troll, I immediately called him on it and proceeded to write up a list of my own that took me about 10 minutes or so. Well, now that the guys decided to accept submissions for community articles on this very topic, why let all those 10 minutes of hard work go to waste, eh? And so, here is the list I wrote up with added elaborations.
Let’s start with the top outfits – things are a tad boring-ish there.
Red Bull Renault: Sebastian Vettel/Mark Webber
Seeing how Mark extended his deal for 2013 and Seb is probably contracted to stay put through 2014, even, it’s quite obvious what the 2013 lineup will look like. And, honestly, even if that wasn’t the case, I would’ve left it this way. Sure, they don’t quite like each other or anything, and most would point out Mark is a tad old, but there isn’t really anyone lined up in the STR camp to replace him. Sure, Vettel would probably be quite a bit ahead in the standings if not for the Renault engines and the green vegetables of sorts… but then again, Mark’s car seems to be plagued with some sort of bullshit every weekend, so they’ve been pretty equal thus far. As such, no reason to change anything.
McLaren Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton/Jenson Button
Same sort of thing. Obviously, Jenson’s been having kind of an off year, but we pretty much know (and have seen in Germany) that he still has it. Lewis, on the other hand, has been pretty phenomenal in 2012 and would’ve been right up there with Mark and Seb if not for the best efforts of McLaren. Jenson’s on a multi-year deal, while Lewis doesn’t really have anywhere as competitive to go, as much as he’d like to pretend otherwise.
Lotus Renault: Romain Grosjean/James Calado
And there comes my first little bit of insanity. Sure, it ain’t gonna happen, although James is not yet contracted to any F1 team in any way (at least, as far as the public is concerned). Still, while it is a fairly weak link, Calado does race for the Lotus GP2 outfit. Reasoning? Well, Grosjean has been nothing short of brilliant in his return to F1, with a stunning qualifying record and 3 podium finishes to his name already. Sure, the amount of first lap accidents he’s been involved in is alarming, but at least, unlike with Maldonado, you can’t exactly say most of them were his fault.
James Calado has also exceeded expectations in 2012 so far, currently running in 5th in his rookie year. Not only has the guy been hailed as the most promising driver on the grid by many, many commentators , he would’ve been quite a bit higher up there as well, if not for a run of pretty bad luck mid-season.
Getting two of the best rookie drivers eligible for F1 in one top outfit would’ve been an incredible thing, especially when one of them is as severely underfunded as James appears to be.
Ferrari: Fernando Alonso/Kimi Raikkonen
Okay, so, my original Twitter plan involved sending Raikkonen back to the US where he could continue swearing at his poor crew chief in NASCAR, I’m guessing it’s not really fair to do that, especially after Hungary. So, even if he gets on my nerves, his performances have been fairly deserving of him continuing to be up there, among the leaders of the pack.
Plus, putting Raikkonen and Alonso in one team would mean fireworks and fun. Massa can go to IndyCar, I’m sure they’re waiting for him already.
Mercedes: Nico Rosberg/Paul di Resta
Disclaimer: I quite admire Michael Schumacher, but there’s no denying he’s getting really old. And, while this season, amidst the terrible luck, his performances were actually quite decent, it doesn’t really look like he’s having an awful lot of fun anymore. With that in mind, Schumacher retires (so that he can purchase some backmarker team in a couple of years, that’d be fun), which allows Mercedes to finally promote Paul di Resta. It is true, Paul hasn’t exactly looked much better than Nico this year so far, but he’s been long up for it and, despite being crazy overrated, deserves it.
Rosberg stays put.
Sauber: Sergio Perez/Jaime Alguersuari
Originally, this was supposed to be Jaime and Robert Wickens from Canada, the WSR champion somehow overlooked by F1 teams. However, since I left Kimi in, Sergio will have to stay put in Sauber for another year or so.
As for Jaime, he seems fairly certain that he will return in 2013 and I, quite frankly, wouldn’t mind it at all. Kobayashi can go to Formula Nippon and fight it out with Lotterer and Nakajima.
Williams: Pastor Maldonado/Valtteri Bottas
Look, I don’t care how much you dislike him, the guy who won a race for Williams in 2012 stays. He just does. Sure, the amount of accidents he causes is frankly shameful, but there’s undeniable evidence that the guy is super-quick. Give him another year to iron out his bullshit, at least.
Senna, having not outqualified Pastor on the 11 occasions where he could’ve, makes way for Bottas, who everyone wants to see in that Williams seat and, quite frankly, so do I.
Force India: Nico Hulkenberg/Jules Bianchi
Since Nico Hulkenberg doesn’t get a Mercedes seat in this one, there’s no reason why he should lose his FI seat. He’s been reasonably quick compared to the very promising di Resta and, if not for some junior mistakes, could’ve been leading him in the standings. He probably still doesn’t have much for sponsorship (and I’d expect FI to need money), but his pace makes up for it.
Bianchi – 3rd in GP2 in 2010, 3rd in GP2 in 2011, currently faring exceptionally well in WSR, which is highly-competitive this year. Somebody give this man a seat already.
Scuderia Toro Rosso: Daniel Ricciardo/Jean-Eric Vergne
Neither of the STR guys have been impressing this year, but nobody else in the RBR junior programme is ready for a step up. While Red Bull are insanely, stupidly demanding, I’m hoping neither of the fellows is expected to win in THIS car.
Caterham: Heikki Kovalainen/Vitaly Petrov
It is really difficult to judge a driver’s performances when he is running in a team like this, which is why it constantly amazes me that everyone is super-sure that Heikki has been doing so well this year. He was obviously great in 2011, yes, but this year, his qualifying pace didn’t exactly materialize into great race performances… and since Maldonado doesn’t get a free pass on that, why should Heikki?
He might be long overdue for a step up, but if it didn’t happen after 2011, why should it happen now?
Meanwhile, Vitaly has been doing reasonably well for Caterham and, while he isn’t quite up for a promotion, deserves to stay.
Marussia: Charles Pic/Robert Wickens
While Timo Glock has been reasonably good for Marussia over the years, it is highly unlikely a top/midfield team will look past Heikki Kovalainen when choosing a backmarker team driver to sign. As such, Glock should probably call it quits and try his luck in IndyCar, since he has previous Champ Car experience.
The assessments of Pic’s performances have ranged from “pretty good” to “the most wonderful thing in the history of mankind” *cough* Autosport *cough*, but it is pretty apparent he’s doing a good job. Since he also has enough sponsorship money, there’s little reason why Marussia would want to part ways with him.
As for the second driver, you’d expect Marussia to sign one of the reasonably talented guys from its GP2 outfit (Chilton has the money while Haryanto has the fanbase), but I’d love for them to go with Robert Wickens, who almost seized the seat in 2011 but lost out to Pic’s money. Probably ain’t never happening, but would be nice.
HRT: Pedro de la Rosa/Davide Valsecchi
“But wait”, I hear you ask – “what in the hell is de la Rosa doing here? Isn’t he as old as Schumacher, who you deemed was a bit too old?” Well… erm… shut up. It’s my post. It’s my grid. I do whatever I want. They made it open to community submissions. You can write your own one. It’s not hard.
Erm… where was I? Oh, yes, de la Rosa. I don’t believe it really matters who’s driving the HRT, since they’re gonna be mostly anonymous to the rest of the grid, so it might as well be Pedro – he’s fun to have around, a true gent during the press conferences and generally a nice guy. As for the second seat, I’m expecting Valsecchi to win the GP2 title from Razia (even though Luiz is leading Davide by 7 points at this momeny), so I’d like him to get that seat. If not… Luiz can have it.
So, there you go, that’s my wishlist of a grid for 2013. I’m betting you have quite a lot of questions, which you can direct to me in that comments section, so that I can belittle you for asking. Cheers.
I am also incredibly honored to be featured on this most wonderful of f1 blogs. I do not even care anymore that I had to donate my left nut to science and send them secret pictures of @meggiepants ‘ cleavage to be allowed this opportunity. Also, Steve is always right and I am always wrong*
*note by editor: this final paragraph may not be his exact words