August 02, 2005

Breaking F1 Silly Season News!

Barrichello out, Massa in at Ferrari in 2006!

More to follow...

update @451pm:

Obviously this is big in a number of ways. First and foremost, Rubens leaving Ferrari is giant... the man many believe is the 2nd best driver in F1 (behind Mitchell, or Kimi, or Alonso) is now a free agent. Of course, one would think that Ferrari cut him loose for a specific reason, namely that he's signed with another team for next year already. BAR-Honda is the org that's been bandied about recently in relation to Rubino, and after hunting the net high and low, I've found no reason to think otherwise.

Secondly, Massa going to Ferrari is a huge step up for the young Brazilian. Sauber is going to be a team in disarray next year, what with the flip to BMW as a factory team (yes, I know BMW is throwing it's full weight behind the team, and yes, I know that most of the Sauber people are staying with the team. Doesn't matter; drop a new head coach into a football team, and there's going to be friction), and Ferrari is... well, they're FERRARI. Like 'em or hate 'em, they're the 200 pound rottweiler straining at the end of a VERY rusty chain, and it's just a matter of time before that weak link snaps. Massa has driven for Ferrari before, having been their tester in 2001, so he knows the team culture. All of F1 UPDATE's little jokes about him being as dull as untoasted toast aside, Massa is a good-to-very good driver, if young. Stick him in a good car, or at least a better car, and he's a star in the making.

Third, assuming that Barrichello HAS signed with them, this puts BAR-Honda in the position of having to pick from, potentially, FOUR talented drivers for 2006... but having to wait until the end of the season to know just whom they CAN choose from! Lets assume for the moment that Rubens isn't signed, but both sides want the other... I think that's a fair assessment, no? Okay, then as things stand, they only have two drivers under contract for next year: the talented rookie Ant Davidson (who drove for Sato in... Malaysia, was it? Either Malaysia or Bahrain... it was a dreadfully hot day, and Sato had a case of the ick.), and F1 UPDATE's Actively Driving Hero, Takuma "Banzai" Sato. Rubens is up in the air. And nobody is farther up in the air (or up their own fundament, for that matter) than Jensen Button. Pretty decent list to select from, eh?

Which brings us to Williams, the next team to be affected by Felipe going to Ferrari. Assuming that Barrichello DOES go to BAR-Honda, and Sir Frank holds fast to his ultimatum ("You're MINE, Button."), Williams has three drivers for two seats: Button, Mark Webber, and Nick Heidfeld. Which brings us to the NEXT team to be affected, and brings us full circle...

Sauber. They just lost Felipe Massa, and they'll be in a transitional season (to say the least!) with new German overlords. Nick Heidfeld drove for Sauber from 2001-2003, is talented, and.. he's German himself. A pair of drivers like Heidfeld and Villeneuve (like him or not, he's experienced) would be perfect for a one-year "cutting of teeth" season for the new team.

Certainly there are other things that could shake out, of course. Jensen might somehow stay with BAR. Sato might sign with BMW (not holding my breath... he's either driving for BAR or he's not in F1 next year, I predict). Renault might boot Fisichella and make a run at Barrichello themselves... the possibilities are endless.

But I think this is a pretty fair estimation of how things'll shake out:

Ferrari: Schumacher, Massa
BAR-Honda: Barrichello, Sato
Williams: Button, Webber
BMW/Sauber: Heidfeld, Villeneuve.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:30 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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