2008 Line-Up (Rumour Mill)

Bundesautobahn

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With only a few races done there are already lot's of rumours about next year's line-up.

#1

Jun.20 (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen could depart Ferrari as soon as the end of this season, according to reports.

Germany's Auto-Bild-Motorsport said the beleaguered Maranello based team has already commenced its search for the Finn's successor, after failing to live up to his reputation and newfound status as the highest earning F1 racer following his switch from McLaren for 2007.

Not only is the 27-year-old struggling to keep up with Felipe Massa in the other F2007, Ferrari bosses are apparently also concerned about Kimi's lack of focus and rookie errors -- such as failing to get his car quickly off the line.

Part of the Auto-Bild-Motorsport rumour is that newly retired Michael Schumacher is the obvious choice to replace Raikkonen, but paddock rumblings have also hinted at McLaren's disgruntled Fernando Alonso or Williams' impressive Nico Rosberg to fill the seat.

The speculation may also be related to new gossip this week that says Toyota could be eyeing Raikkonen as a replacement for Ralf Schumacher next year and beyond.

Ferrari is now coming under intense pressure from the notorious and influential Italian media, with La Gazzetta dello Sport headlining this week that the trip to North America was a "total failure" for the Prancing Horse.

Regarding Raikkonen, meanwhile, the sports daily wrote: "Hopes that he is Michael Schumacher's heir are gradually fading.

"Australia aside, Kimi has never been brilliant in a Ferrari."


#2:

Jun.19 (GMM) Marc Gene could be set to return to the formula one grid next year.

The 33-year-old Spaniard is currently a secondary test driver for Maranello based Ferrari, which has been speculatively linked with supplying a complete car and gearbox to a customer team in 2008.

Spanish newspaper Marca reports that Faenza based Scuderia Toro Rosso, co-owned by Gerhard Berger and Dietrich Mateschitz and already powered by Ferrari engines, could get Gene as part of the deal for Ferrari's race-winning F2007 racer.

Gene, so unoccupied by Ferrari this year that he races sports cars for Peugeot, drove for STR's predecessor Minardi in 1999 and 2000, and last appeared on a grand prix grid while substituting for Williams' injured Ralf Schumacher in 2003 and 2004.

Marca said the negotiations between Ferrari and Toro Rosso are "on the verge" of being finalised.


#3:

Jun.19 (GMM) Honda and its drivers have decided to field an unchanged lineup for the 2008 season, according to emerging reports.

The Austrian daily newspaper 'Osterreich' claims that Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello are staying put at least for another year, despite failing to score a single point so far with the uncompetitive RA107 car.

Barrichello's extended stay for 2008 involves a new contract, while Button penned a long term deal two years ago.

'Osterreich' says the news is bad for Christian Klien, who had been hoping to use his test berth this year to spring back onto the grid, especially amid rumours that Barrichello might retire.

But it is being suggested that former Jaguar and Red Bull racer Klien, who is 24, could be in talks with Toyota about 2008, with F1's other Japanese squad unlikely to renew Ralf Schumacher's expiring contract.

Klien's current deal only covers the 2007 season.

His manager-father Johannes Klien is also understood to have explored the options at Honda-powered Super Aguri, but sources report that both Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson are likely to stay.


#4:

Jun.20 (GMM) Flavio Briatore has vehemently denied reports that Renault's Finnish Heikki Kovalainen could be offloaded to Williams in the coming weeks.

Paddock rumours at Indianapolis last weekend suggested that the French squad's team boss was so dissatisfied with Kovalainen's form this year that he wanted to replace him as soon as possible with test driver Nelson Piquet Jr.

"In formula one, too much is always spoken," Briatore said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper 'As'.

He insisted: "The truth is that I have never talked with Frank Williams about drivers or had dinner with him.

"We have made our decisions and we stick with them. With Heikki, we chose for the future."

Briatore said 25-year-old Kovalainen has shown clear signs of improvement in the past few races and partly blames himself for the Finn's rusty start to 2007.

"He drove a great race in Montreal. Obviously, he is working with the team to understand some of the errors he has made but we have to be careful, give him every support and try to improve our car."

Briatore said Lewis Hamilton's impressive start to his formula one career shows that a good car is crucial for any rookie.

"With the (2006) R26 Kova tested a champion car but at the beginning of this season we were initially just 15th.

"He has had a difficult car, whereas Hamilton's (McLaren) has been perfect.

"On the other hand Lewis raced in GP2 in 2006 and Kovalainen not at all. That could have been our error that we have paid for.

"I am never content if we do not win, but at the moment it is not possible because of the machine, not because of the drivers."

Briatore said: "The potential of Heikki and Giancarlo is quite good.

"Kovalainen has to prove it still and Fisichella has done a very good job for the car. We must work with them to improve -- without pressure."


Your thoughts on this, anything to add, bad idea to let Schumacher return? Anyway share your thoughts about it here.

Please note that this season's (main) developments still belong in the general 2007 topic. :)
 

Top Geek

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If Ferrari decides to can Raikkonen, I think they will try to woo Hamilton. Just guessing ;)
 

Brother Michael

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If Ferrari decides to can Raikkonen, I think they will try to woo Hamilton. Just guessing ;)
There is no way in hell Ron Dennis is going to let Hamilton go. Alonso perhaps, but a britishlead team based in England with a winning (young) british driver is just too good to miss for Mclaren.

As for Kimi getting fired from Ferrari....I really doubt it. He wrote a really long contract with Ferrari, so I think the guys from Maranello will see what happens at least for the season after this one. I don't think they could admit so qiuckly they made a mistake with R?ikk?nen, the italians are too proud.
 

Top Geek

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I didn't say it would happen, but maybe Ferrari would try. I agree: Dennis (nor Hamilon, I think) would ever agree to it.
 

AnGuRuSO

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If Ferrari decides to can Raikkonen, I think they will try to woo Hamilton. Just guessing ;)
I can't see why Hamilton would ever want to leave McLaren. They'd have to offer him a huge amount of money. I think Ferrari would have no problems picking up angry Alonso. Then we'd see some awesome McLaren vs Ferrari races.
 

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#3 is the only believable one - the others are just pure bollocks. Kimi's had a slow start at Ferrari, but he'll turn it around. As for Heikki - I don't think we've yet seen what he's capable of - and Flavio knows that, so Heikki's not going anywhere soon.
 

Necx0

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It's a shame as I think most of the drivers in F1 deserve to be there. However its always exciting to speculate about whats next.

Can't see Ralf Schumacher staying, most overpaid and overrated driver ever. Alex Wurz is another one on the ropes, along with Christian Albers.

Nelson Piquet Jr will be looking hard for a seat, particularly as his manager is Flavio.

Gary Paffett would also no doubt like a seat, along with Sebastian Vettel, who has shown enough promise not to be ignored.

There have been those linking Sato to Toyota, and perhaps it wouldn't be such a bad thing, in terms of marketing if nothing else.
 

Red_Bull

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'Angry Alonso' nothing. I think its just sensationalism by the British media in order to glamorise Hamilton even more. Alonso may be a little discomforted at McLaren, which is normal because he's only been there seven months. I think he'll do fine.

Raikkonen I feel is in the same situation made worse by Schumacher's presence in the team. Give him and Alonso next year to fully get integrated within their respective teams. I do want to say though, that Raikkonen is not justifying his immense salary at Ferrari and is seemingly slack and undisciplined. He's capable of some pretty stellar performances (Belgium 2004, Japan 2005) but most of the time is lacklustre and I wonder just how well McLaren would've gone last year with two committed drivers. I don't think Raikkonen is team leader material.

Necx0 is right. There are a lot of talented young drivers waiting for their chance to step up, so I think a few drivers on the current grid should be watching their backs. They include (but not limited to) Schumacher, Kovalainen, Albers, Liuzzi and Speed.
 
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Drivers who might not be on the grid in 2008 in my opinion are..

Ralf, Albers, Speed, Liuzzi, Kovi and Wurz.

There is a lot of talent waiting in the wings, and those guys above havent done enough so far this season. I expect STR to clean out their driving ranks, as they have had 2 years and done nothing. Ralf, overpaid and needs to go. Kovi is at Renault and Flavio is no stranger to getting rid of people who dont meet his standards, which Kovi isnt really doing. Too many mistakes. Wurz, I didnt think he was a good choice for Williams, too long being a tester and plenty of young ones waiting for a chance to driver. And finally, Albers. Never liked him, and they should have kept Monteiro.
 

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Interesting interview with Helmut Marko

Interesting interview with Helmut Marko

Exclusive - Red Bull?s Helmut Marko

21 June 2007

Saturday, 16 June 2007

A battle for new driving talent is raging in the pit lane. With some of the older drivers nearing retirement and some of the younger ones struggling to deliver, there are fears teams could soon face a shortage of capable racers, and finding a diamond in the rough - as Renault did with Fernando Alonso, and McLaren with Lewis Hamilton - is becoming an ever more costly process. We caught up with Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull?s motorsport consultant and the man behind the team?s young driver programme, to discuss what the future might hold?

Q: Formula One racing is preparing for the future in terms of technology - but what about in terms of drivers? Is there enough talent out there?

Helmut Marko: Not at the moment. But this has a variety of causes: in general I think that the road to Formula One via Formula Three and GP2 is the right one, but the costs in GP2 are so inflationary that only youngsters who have a solid financial backing race there. I would not go so far as to say that money spoils the character, but it does cushion the hunger for success. The second reason - and the biggest problem I see - is that young drivers don?t get enough test mileage. The result of the test restrictions is that Friday practice sessions - until now the domain of the reserve drivers - are carried out by official race drivers. Unless a youngster is exceptionally talented like Lewis Hamilton, this new situation creates a problem for every upcoming Formula One driver.

Q: At the moment we are seeing an older generation of drivers making way for a new generation. What effects do you think this will have over the next couple of years?

HM:
That the chances for young drivers are as big as ever. On the other hand, I don?t see anybody who is a ?must-sign?. And those who have been carefully nurtured in GP2, like for example Heikki Kovalainen, aren?t delivering as expected. As to the reason behind this failure, I don?t know.

Q: Lewis Hamilton?s success has focused attention on rookie drivers. However, do you think his success has obscured the fact that there is perhaps something of a void in terms of driver talent in the lower series?

HM: There are some names in GP2, but many of those are already long-timers, like Timo Glock, who have already tasted Formula One and had to retreat. But high achievers like Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton - and since Indianapolis Sebastian Vettel - are nowhere in sight. This brings us straight back to the question of costs in GP2. At the moment we talk about costs of 1.2 million Euros and with the step towards an Asian (GP2) series - which I think is a good thing to do - these costs could climb to 2 million Euros and this is a real stumbling block if you are looking for pure talent.

Q: Red Bull runs its own young driver programme. Are you satisfied with its output to date?


HM: From the quantity side our young driver program is definitely extensive. At the moment we have 16 drivers under our tutelage. They are successful. They lead the Euro Championship, the Italian championship, Renault 2.0 etc. We start very early. We pick them from karting when they are 15 or 16 years-old and shepherd them through the lower series. And one day comes the moment of truth: either the talent is not sufficient for the next series up - which is rarely is the case - or their attitude is wrong, which is more often is the case!

Q: Being a Formula One driver is a highly complex, 24/7 job. Are the demands simply too multifaceted for most newcomers?


HM:
The technical qualification profile is very high. It is not like in the old days when you changed the inclination of the wings and your job as driver was done. Today you have to understand an electronically very complex car to find the perfect set-up for qualifying and race. The other side is the physical and mental strength in a sport where pressure is part of the business. Then there is the glamour factor - many get carried away and fall for the idea that just being there is enough. But to get there is one thing, to stay there and be successful quite another. It is a head thing and that is where most fail.

Q: What would you say were the basic prerequisites for an up and coming driver?

HM: Aside from the driving skills, the mental strength and the willingness to work hard - it is a question of commitment, it is racing or nothing. Another indispensable attribute is ruthlessness - only when you are equipped with this trait will you go anywhere.

Q: GP2 was designed as a stepping stone to Formula One racing. Is it delivering?

HM:
Generally speaking, yes. The cars are very demanding so it?s a good preparation for F1. It is happening on a Grand Prix weekend, so the youngsters see what it is all about, and with the reversion of the grid, the overtaking is enhanced. It is a perfect school for future Formula One drivers. The only downside is the cost.

Q: Which youngsters - aside from Hamilton - do you think will become the pacemakers over the next few years?

HM: I can only speak for our youngsters. We have Sebastian Boemi, who seems to have what it takes and who drove in Monaco into the points at his first attempt. Then we have Michael Ammermuller, who unfortunately is injured at the moment, but other than those two I don?t see anyone else over the next few years.

Q: So it seems the Formula One teams may face some recruitment problems in the coming years. Is there a way out of this situation?

HM:
I would suggest that drivers from lower series - like Formula Three or Renault 2.0 - are promoted to GP2 more quickly. Most of the big teams - like Toyota, Renault, Honda, McLaren and ourselves - all have junior programmes, so what happens is that if a youngster has won one or two races, all those teams line up to catch the ?promising fish?. In fact, such a hot talent can almost choose the team of his liking. That situation spoils many young talents almost at the very beginning. In this war over talent, if it is fought as fiercely as it seems to be now, in the end everyone might lose out.

Q: What will the driver line-up at the two Red Bull teams look like next season?


HM:
At Red Bull Racing we are saturated. David (Coulthard) is obviously in his third spring - he has delivered great races in Bahrain and Barcelona. And with Mark (Webber), we have one of the best qualifiers on the grid. I would say that our drivers are far better than the reliability of our cars and if both would match up, we would be in a far better position in the championship. With our junior team we will see. Scott (Speed) and Tonio (Liuzzi) have shown glimpses of their talent on occasions. With a shortage of talent looming in the paddock, we might as well stick with what we have got in 2008.
Source
 

Necx0

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While its great to see new faces I think immediately discounting older drivers from Formula 1 is a grave mistake. Before the last 2 years, in which Alonso became the youngest EVER champion (even had he won it for the first time in 2006!!) have a look at the age of the world champions

Schumacher: Well into his 30's when he started to dominate (ok so the Benetton titles were achieved young)
Hakkinen: 30's
Villeneuve: Already an established Indy car racer
Hill: 36 (didn't even get a drive until he was 30!)
Prost: Almost 40
Mansell: almost 40
Senna: Well into his 30's

Seems to be this attitude that drivers lose speed over 30, quite the opposite I think. Drivers don't become complete until they are older. Also just because a driver has had a shot at F1 doesn't mean they shouldn't come back! Justin Wilson and Timo Glock are two good drivers that come to mind.

Also don't be so harsh on Heikki, he may have had a poor start to the season compared to Hamilton, but is now showing promise and I expect him to build on it and expect him to show Fisi the way towards the end of the season.

A final couple of points:
Will anyone be brave enough to take the risk on Sebastian Bourdais??

Don't forget there are an extra two seats available next year with Prodrive! Maybe Stephane Sarrazin could get a shot?
 

Devon

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Will anyone be brave enough to take the risk on Sebastian Bourdais??
Toro Rosso already have, they've offered him a contract for next year, he has until the end of July (I think) to accept.
 

Red_Bull

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Toro Rosso already have, they've offered him a contract for next year, he has until the end of July (I think) to accept.
Turned it down, didn't he? Wasn't he waiting for better offers from better teams? He'll be waiting a long time if I know anything about it.
 

Necx0

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I doubt he will leave the top of Champ Car to become an also-ran in F1. A driver of his calibre surely belongs in one of the top 4 or 5 teams? But doubt they will make any offers
 

phuckingduck

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I doubt he will leave the top of Champ Car to become an also-ran in F1. A driver of his calibre surely belongs in one of the top 4 or 5 teams? But doubt they will make any offers
I'm sure he watched Matta make that mistake and then took some notes.
 

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I remember hearing once that Bourdais didnt mind joining STR as it got him on the grid and then he could show everyone what he could do.
 

Devon

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Turned it down, didn't he? Wasn't he waiting for better offers from better teams? He'll be waiting a long time if I know anything about it.
That's news to me, last I heard the offer was still on the table. Plus isn't he doing another test with Toro Rosso this year (I could be wrong)?

Helmut Marko didn't mention Bourdais at all in the interview I posted earlier, so he could of turned down the offer. But I don't believe that Toro Rosso will keep Scott Speed next year, unless the rest of his season is amazing.
 
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