411: Drivers & Teams 2011

Hope you’re coping well with the weather; trudging to work in the snow is not my favourite thing to do first thing in the morning. But once I returned home (through the sludge…snow is depressing once it’s walked on don’t you think?) I found the first sign of spring…

FIA announce provisional 2011 entry list:

Team Drivers
Red Bull Racing 1. Sebastian Vettel 

2. Mark Webber

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 3. Lewis Hamilton 

4. Jenson Button

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro 5. Fernando Alonso 

6. Felipe Massa

Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team 7. Michael Schumacher 

8. Nico Rosberg

Renault F1 Team 9. Robert Kubica 

10. TBA

AT&T Williams 11. Rubens Barrichello 

12. Pastor Maldonado

Force India F1 Team 14. TBA 

15. TBA

Sauber F1 Team 16. Kamui Kobayashi 

17. Sergio Pérez Mendoza

Scuderia Toro Rosso 18. TBA 

19. TBA

Team Lotus 20. Jarno Trulli 

21. Heikki Kovalainen

HRT F1 Team 22. TBA 

23. TBA

Marussia Virgin Racing 24. TBA 

25. TBA

The ‘provisional’ part must be stressed; we’ve only just started December, and as you can tell by the gaps…it’s far from completed. I’ve got a page set up which will be constantly updated as the information gets released by the teams and the FIA.

First order of business is to make a note of who’s missing from this list; as it stand we have 10 seats unaccounted for, that’s almost half the field for the record. Below is the list of the drivers that haven’t featured on the list yet and who drove last year at some point.

Vitaly Petrov (Renault), Nico Hulkenberg (Williams), Adrian Sutil (Force India), Vitantonio Liuzzi (Force India), Nick Heidfeld (Sauber), Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber), Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso), Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso), Christian Klien (HRT), Sakon Yamamoto (HRT), Bruno Senna (HRT), Karun Chandhok (HRT), Lucas di Grassi (Virgin) and Timo Glock (Virgin).

Quite a chunk of drivers and not enough seats to go around; a common feature of the end of season dash, but there are a couple of drivers we can sort out from the off. It has been reported that Alguersuari and Buemi do have Toro Rosso contracts for 2011; I reckon they’re just ironing out some of the important details. Like who gets the number 18 car.

One of the biggest shocks is that Nico Hulkenberg has been booted from Williams; this is far from performance related as the German stopped the 100 race drought by providing a much-needed pole position in Brazil. But not to discredit Maldonado; it’s hard to ignore the substantial sponsorship he’s bringing with him. I personally hope Hulkenberg finds a home to call his own before the season starts as he produced some good results this year.

And despite being assured he would remain with Renault next year; Vitaly Petrov has yet to be confirmed, buoyant after his (surprising) performance in Abu Dhabi he claimed he was staying put. And the team seemed in agreement; but once the dust had settled; I imagine they perused the last season and remembered the trail of destruction (and unclaimed points) he left around the world.

A rumour swirling around the Virgin and HRT teams is that they are waiting for ‘paid’ drivers to knock at their doors. It’s a balancing act that a lot of the teams have to manage throughout the year; do they go for money and develop their cars and survive another year, or risk it with a talented driver without the backing for the points. It’s essentially about the money…which of course is a shame, but it’s the way the sport is. However as Virgin has just acquired a brand new title sponsor in Marussia; it’s unlikely they are in dire need of money…so what’s the hold up?

Regarding team names Lotus Racing has become Team Lotus; Tony Fernandes has got his way and entered his team for the 2011 season under the name he wanted all year. But what’s this? The buzz around the ice-laden paddock is that he could sell up to Group Lotus and purchase Renault (which had been with Lotus in November). Now that would be a tasty end to this tale…

Oh and as a final note on the teams for next year; mull over the Mercedes GP drivers…who would you give the top car to? Nico Rosberg surely; after the consistent ass-whooping (the technical term for outperforming your teammate all year) he gave Schumacher this season. No, Schumi took the #7 for himself under the guise of superstition. You’re not fooling anyone mate!

Later rookies!

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