Every summer as the Formula 1 season gets into full swing in July and enters the short summer break in August the talk in the paddock turns to who will drive where in the following season. Often there are one or two drivers who are the key to the rest of the moves, and the paddock awaits news of their decision before the rest of the moves fall in place.
Team by team 2008 - 2009 Driver Movements:
As of early August, the 2008-2009 silly season has a few key driver movements left. But here, team by team, is the way the situation looks after the Hungarian Grand Prix:
Felipe Massa: Although Massa signed at Ferrari until and including 2010 and his contract appears set.
Kimi Raikkonen: There is a clear indication that Fernando Alonso is ready to join the one team that would remain for every world champion to want to drive for. Rather than swimming about at Renault repeating what he did in the past, the Spaniard would clearly want to move on to the legendary Italian team. The timing of such a move depends on when Raikkonen leaves, and he has talked of early retirement. If Raikkonen retires then his seat will be taken by Alonso.
Lewis Hamilton: signed a five year contract at McLaren over the winter and there is little to imagine him wanting to change that. He grew up with the team and now is reaping the benefits and wants to win multiple titles at McLaren.
Heikki Kovalainen: Over the last race weekend in Hungary, Heikki Kovalainen had his contract for next year confirmed at McLaren, and he spoke of wanting to stay at the team for many years. Kovalainen then went on to celebrate his re-signing with the team by winning the race, his first in Formula One.
Nick Heidfeld: It is here at the up-and-coming BMW Sauber team that many of the most important questions lie that could shape the future of the driver market and the future championships. BMW Sauber needs great drivers now that it has begun to prove its ability to create a great car and consistently score points, and even win races. It won its first race in Canada in June. But Heidfeld has not yet had his seat confirmed for next season.
Robert Kubica: Speculation has begun about the emerging star not only of the BMW Sauber team but also of Formula 1 in general, and that Kubica is being considered for Ferrari. Kubica has proven now that he is a race winner when given the car and circumstances to win. So he has become a very hot property, and his next move will indeed be important not only for whoever takes him, but also for the future of BMW Sauber.
Jarno Trulli: Consistently fast, Trulli continues at Toyota.
Timo Glock: Having scored a second place in Hungary after a terrible accident in Germany, Glock looks set to remain.
Mark Webber: Will continue at Red Bull, has destroyed all of his teammates in pure speed.
David Coulthard: Retirement. After a great career in Formula 1 that started in 1994 after the death of Ayrton Senna, Coulthard announced at the British Grand Prix that he will retire from racing at the end of the season.
Fernando Alonso: Rumors say that Alonso will move to Ferrari in 2010. So what happens next year? If Renault looks like it can improve, he will stay there. Honda is now rumored to be after him for one year, in 2009.
Nelson Piquet Jr.: Not a good year for Piquet, although he finished second in Germany and for the last few races he has been able to outdo Alonso from time to time. Still, a difficult and unsure position at Renault - with little else available.
Nico Rosberg: Rosberg was in the running for McLaren last year and it didn't happen. With Kovalainen sure to stay next year, it won't happen then either. Rosberg says he'll stay at Williams. It looks likely.
Kazuki Nakajima: The Toyota engine at Williams is a good thing for Nakajima, but his excellent results this season are a better thing. Williams like him. No reason to see him leaving.
Rubens Barrichello: Barrichello is the most experienced driver ever to race in Formula 1. But he is still motivated, still fast. He wants to stay, and Ross Brawn, his technical director from the Ferrari days has now joined the Honda team as the director of the team, and he said that the problems at the team are not to do with the drivers, but the car.
Jenson Button: Button has been frequently outpaced by Barrichello, and the British driver is many years younger. There has been a lot of talk recently of Honda being interested in signing Fernando Alonso for a short-term contract, for one year in 2009, before the Spaniard likely moves on to Ferrari. This would allow Honda to profit by having one of the fastest and most determined drivers and be able to compare the car to the world championship winning Renault car of two years ago and the nearly world championship winning McLaren of last year. Much, again, depends on Raikkonen and Ferrari.
Sebastien Bourdais: Bourdais started the season slower than his teammate, then when the new car came through it was not to his liking and suddenly the young Vettel got the upper hand. Bourdais’s contract has not yet been confirmed and his position at the team is far from certain for next year. On the other hand, the team is losing Vettel, and it is also far from certain that they would want to replace both drivers next season.
Sebastian Vettel: Clearly fast, Vettel has not yet proven that he is up to all the hype. His young career may be moving faster than it should. In any event, the young German hopeful has been signed to move up to the Red Bull season next year.
Giancarlo Fisichella: Fisichella has done honor to his reputation by being consistently faster than Sutil for most of the season – despite nearly ten years difference in age between the two drivers. Check that.
Adrian Sutil: There is a suggestion that he might be replaced by Vitantonio Liuzzi. Too bad about his drive in Monaco when he should have finished fourth had he not been bumped out by Raikkonen, he would have been a hero and earned many points.