• Oct 8th 2009 at 9:28AM
  • 18

If you thought the series of driver changes in the middle of this ongoing Formula One season was something, it's nothing compared to the grand game of musical chairs expected to ensue as the season draws to a close. With BMW closing up shop, several new teams joining the grid and at least a couple of former world champions switching teams for next year's championship, we're shaping up for the biggest jumble the F1 circus has seen in years. Follow the jump to see how it's unfolding so far.

[Image: Clive Mason/Getty]
  • As in previous years, several teams have been waiting to finalize their rosters pending the decision of one vital puzzle piece: Fernando Alonso. Now that the two-time world champion has confirmed his move from Renault to Ferrari, you can expect things to begin moving.
  • The first confirmed move following Alonso's is that of Robert Kubica, the promising Polish driver who was left without a seat when BMW announced its withdrawal from the sport. Kubica will be moving in to Alonso's seat at Renault, a team now under new management following the exile of its top two officials.
  • No announcement has been made so far as to who will drive alongside Kubica at Renault next year. Nelson Piquet Jr. has left the team and his rookie replacement, Romain Grosjean, has failed to deliver in his stead. The prevalent speculation places Kubica's BMW team-mate Nick Heidfeld, together again at Renault, however, Toyota's Timo Glock and Force India's Adrian Sutil are also reportedly in the running for the vacant Renault seat.
  • The next big question is over where Kimi Raikkonen will go. With Felipe Massa expected to recover and return to the grid for next season alongside Alonso, Raikkonen is left with a contract but no race seat. Previous reports suggested the Finnish driver could port over to Ferrari's sister-company Abarth to headline its rally program, leaving Formula One altogether. Newer reports, however, have placed him back at McLaren, at Red Bull or at Toyota, however, Kimi has stated he'd only be interested in driving for a team with a winning car. Santander, tipped to shift its sponsorship from McLaren to Ferrari, is reportedly willing to bankroll the transfer of Kimi's contract with Ferrari.
  • Lewis Hamilton is confirmed to remain at McLaren next season. However his team-mate Heikki Kovalainen has not, so far, had his contract renewed. While McLaren could be waiting to see if they can get their hands back on Raikkonen, the team's management has indicated they could very well retain Kovalainen for another year.
  • The only other team to confirm its drivers for next season is Red Bull, which will hold on to Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel and in the process could emerge (in stark contrast to last year) as the only team to keep the same drivers for 2010. If Raikkonen is up for grabs, however, Webber could find himself on the market as well.
  • For its part, Williams is tipped to be canceling its engine deal with Toyota in favor of either Cosworth or Renault, and could seek out a young driver from the GP2 ranks to drive for the team next season.
  • Scuderia Toro Rosso is expected to confirm both Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastian Buemi for next season, but has so far made no announcement.
  • Toyota remains a big question mark, with various reports speculating on alternative career moves for both Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock.
  • Force India, which currently fields Tonio Liuzzi and Adrian Sutil, may wait for the dust to settle before confirming its drivers for next season. Reports suggest that Giancarlo Fisichella, who left the team to fill in for Felipe Massa at Ferrari and is contracted to remain in Maranello as a reserve driver, may be allowed to race for another team once Ferrari's back on track.
  • The biggest piece to the puzzle, however, is where the four new teams scheduled to join the field next year will get their drivers. Campos Meta, Manor, Lotus and USF1 are all going to need talent, which is good news for free agents, aspiring drivers from the feeder series and retired veterans who may find their experience in demand.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hopefully Lotus and Campos Meta have decent showings to allow Bruno & Trulli to have a good season.

      Adrian Sutil and Kobayashi at Toyota would be a great paring.

      And no top driver should go to Mclaren to partner alongside prima dona Hamilton, that team lies through its nose without flinching. Equality my foot.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I was hoping that Force India would bring in that indian GP2 driver Chandok. He seems to be a midpack driver.

      yea a lot of people have shifted around and I can see some for cost cutting (torro rosso for alguersari and buemi?)i would want at least one non-rookie, but i could see how much $$ this move would save them.I hope Kimi goes to McLaren, and can muster up a brand new confidence to push every race (he is a brilliant driver and I've heard many negative comments about kimi)

      Looking forward to seeing a Massa-Alonso v. Hamilton-Raikkonen for the big names...hopefully McLaren has been working on their new chasis as Ferrari already stated that they have begun. Time is ticking!.

      Barrichello for the championship screw button!

      On a sad note I can't believe the season is over..seems just like yesterday I was waiting for the Austrailian GP to come on
      • 5 Years Ago
      "I think people remember the 'glory days' as better then they actually were. "

      That's an interesting and most likely very true statement.
      • 5 Years Ago
      f1 will never be as good as Senna/Prost/Mansell era but hey, I'm still watching.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The zoo has just begun and it will effect more than just F1 -

      Sato who is looking for a F1 drive might find one in one of the start-up teams, but I expect DeFerran to offer Sato a drive along with Simon in his new IRL team. If that happens that's one less experienced pilot for the start ups.

      I knew a buyout would have to happen for McLaren to get Kimi away from Ferrari, look for that to happen if its not a pure rumor.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Mark - I told you I don't do sponsor's hats - Webber.

      President of the FIA in 20 years.
      • 5 Years Ago
      JSams4131 - Force India have gone on the record as saying that Indian drivers will only make it to the team if they're good enough. They could easily have raced Narain Karthikeyan but he simply wasn't good enough. I think Adrian Sutil is a very promising driver. I was always a fan of Giancarlo Fisichella, but he never really delivered. Tonio Liuzzi was very promising in the junior formulae, but again, the step up to F1 left him wanting in terms of speed.

      I'm hoping, for purely selfish reasons, my compatriot and current A1 GP driver champion, Adam Carroll, gets an F1 seat. I've lost interest in F1 since Eddie Jordan withdrew from the sport since I hadn't really anything to cheer for, but having an Irish driver back in the fold for the first time since Eddie Irvine would be fantastic, and something tells me he's got what it takes to be quick in F1, apart from being a little too old, perhaps.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Totally forgot about the Cosworth, I can't wait to see how they perform.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow what a total clusterf**k!! Looks like it'll be an interesting next season
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ruebens deserves better
      [...the tags list is so massive it can be its own article]
      • 5 Years Ago
      Poor Toyota. They want the absolute best drivers, and it would be interesting to see that happen. But just like Honda wanting Alonso (which, as we see, would have been a smart move for him), no top drivers want to give these teams a chance.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This has been one of the most interesting F1 seasons in recent memory. The driver shuffle will only serve to provide entertainment during the off season. Time to grab the popcorn!
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