Notes from the Indian Grand Prix

By on Sunday, October 30, 2011

Romain Grosjean. Photo credit: Renault F1 Team

Raikkonen still a talking point, Grosjean returns to the frame and Force India brings forward a decision on drivers. Here are notes from the Indian Grand Prix

-   A major talking point all weekend has been the rumour surrounding the return of Kimi Raikkonen to Formula One, with Williams. On Friday, Adam Parr, Williams’ chairman, categorically stated that the team is evaluating their options to secure the two best drivers possible. Pastor Maldonado is likely to stay, given that he has been far better than his points tally suggests and that he comes with some substantial financial boosts for the team. After the race, when quizzed by the BBC, Parr said that he was unable to divulge too many details on the rumours, although he was positive regarding Raikkonen and stating that he seemed eager to return to the sport. It may seem premature, but Williams are certainly talking to Raikkonen. We’ve been here before with Kimi – see the McLaren episode at the end of 2009 – so nothing is sure until he actually turns up to the first race of next season in a Williams racesuit.

-   The decision regarding Force India’s drivers for 2012 will be brought forwards a few weeks at the request of Adrian Sutil. The German, who has been with the team since 2006 in their Midland guise, made his debut when the team was Spyker in 2007 and has steadily improved over his five seasons in the sport. The smart money appears to be that he is set to be replaced by Nico Hulkenberg. On the BBC forum, Hulkenberg’s attitude seemed to suggest that he is edging towards the seat, which would ultimately be a blow to Sutil whose options appear to be limited. If the Raikkonen deal falls through, it could be Sutil who ends up racing at Williams next season.

- Another driver out of sorts appears to be Bruno Senna. Since replacing Nick Heidfeld, he has scored two points in an admittedly inferior Renault R31 than the one which began the season so strongly. On Friday, the team announced that Romain Grosjean will take part in practice in the remaining two races of the season. Renault brought Senna in to replace Heidfeld in practice at Hungary and subsequently replaced him a race later. Whilst Heidfeld was undoubtedly the scapegoat for a poor run of results, the announcement of Grosjean in for FP1 is a sign that the team is unsure that Senna has the correct capabilities for a full seat in 2012. Grosjean won’t race this season, but it looks increasingly likely that he will be the one that replaces Robert Kubica if the Pole is unable to return in 2012.

-  Whilst the fight at the front has long fizzled out, the battle for 6th in the constructors championship is still on going. Force India has 51 points, whilst Sauber and Toro Rosso are level on 41. Sauber has long since been on the slide, with Kamui Kobayashi on a run of seven pointless races. Conversely, Toro Rosso has seen their car steadily improve this season and Jaime Alguersuari has taken eight points in the last two races. The long straights of the Yas Marina Circuit could hand the advantage to Toro Rosso in a fight that could enhance a driver’s reputation, the credibility of a team and, most importantly, a massive financial boost.

Mark Webber. Photo credit: Red Bull GEPA

-   Another rumour circulating is one that began at the Italian Grand Prix. When Mark Webber crashed out of the race, it took a suspiciously long amount of time for the front wing to return to Red Bull’s factory in Milton Keynes. It has been suggested that it took a detour to Maranello, something that Ferrari would undoubtedly categorically deny. If it did, and the new wing introduced this weekend was a copy, they haven’t done a very good job. Anyway, the amount of photographs there are of opposition cars would render the wing useless. Especially when Newey brings out something better in January…

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