Where does this leave the 2013 market?

By on Friday, September 28, 2012

Photo credit: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

With the news of Lewis Hamilton moving to Mercedes and Sergio Perez heading from Sauber to McLaren, the driver market is beginning to move into place.

But where does this leave several other contenders before next season?

Felipe Massa is now almost certain to remain with Ferrari. The Brazilian's pace has improved recently and his position in the team satisfies Fernando Alonso: a crucial dynamic in the Ferrari team.

Red Bull has already retained both drivers, meaning that Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne are likely to stay with Toro Rosso. If Antonio Felix Da Costa gets a good run in the early half of next season's Formula Renault 3.5 championship, he could be at STR in the middle of next year.

Lotus is set to keep both Raikkonen and Grosjean, while Force India are unlikely to have any approaches for either driver now that the McLaren and Mercedes seats are occupied.

The key team now is Sauber. Perez leaving frees up a seat, but Kobayashi's position within the team has been under scrutiny for some time, with many in the team believing that the Japanese racer has underperformed this season.

So does that leave two free seats at Sauber? Many believe so.

Michael Schumacher's management were in discussions with Sauber during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, although the Swiss team will work out whether Schumacher's marketable aspects will be beneficial for the team.

A more logical line up will be Jaime Alguersuari and reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez. Alguersuari has said he will be back in the sport next season, while Gutierrez sealed third place in the GP2 championship in Singapore. If that happens, Dutchman Robin Frijns is expected to end up as Sauber's reserve driver.

Further down the grid, Williams is still expected to promote Valtteri Bottas alongside Pastor Maldonado, while Caterham is likely to snatch Charles Pic from Marussia. Max Chilton is likely to fill the void left by Pic.

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