After the much coveted Indian GP, the action now shifts to the off-field drama as the teams are looking for new permutations and combinations for the next calendar year. With the Abu Dhabi and Brazilian GP still to go, drivers are trying not to distract themselves with talks about their hazy future with the current teams. The Drivers’ and Constructors’ championships are decided already with Red Bull emerging clear winners but teams like Williams, Ferrari and Mercedes have not performed as well as they would have wanted and are in line for big changes.
First in line is Ruebens Barrichelo’s future with his current team Williams, as sources say that 2007 Champion Kimi Raikkonen is expected to replace him for the next season. Barrichelo has the distinction of starting the highest number of races in the history of Formula1 and has been associated with four different teams in the last six years. The Brazilian is expecting a decision before the start of his year ending home GP.
Finishing with a dismal performance this year, Williams stand at 9th position with just 5 points to their credit. A lot of drivers seem to be in the reckoning for Barrichelo’s spot if he is axed, like Adrian Sutil of Force India. Second driver Pastor Maldonado brings substantial sponsorship to the team from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and is sure to stay.
The other big question mark is Robert Kubica’s future with Renault as he was involved in a near fatal pre-season rally crash. Renault is expected to try out Romain Grosjean of France in Friday’s practice session to assess his capabilities. Sahara Force India has selected Max Chilton in their Young Drivers Test to test for them at Abu Dhabi and the Brit has already completed a straight-line aerodynamic test for the team in September. With team Principal Vijay Mallya expected to have a close look at the youngster’s performance, a good showing will immediately put him in the reckoning for next year with the Indian team.
Another big development has been that Scuderia Ferrari is looking to axe Felipe Massa for the upcoming season. Though it looks highly unlikely that the Team will end his services before Massa’s contract expires at the end of 2012, unconfirmed reports state so. Nico Rosberg was touted to leave Mercedes for Ferrari. But Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali has said that the team still has hopes on Massa to raise his game and show his true ability in 2012.
Though none of the teams have officially confirmed their decisions as yet, quite a few modifications are expected in team compositions for the 2012 season.