|Kevin Magnusson is expected to replace Perez after next year|
There are lots of rumors kicking around in India about who will be driving where next year. The basic situation has not changed. The circus is waiting for the next dominoes to fall: the McLaren drivers and confirmation of Nico Hulkenberg at Lotus. The McLaren question is fairly simple. Jenson Button has already re-signed but the deal is yet to be announced. Sergio Perez’s future is undecided for the moment and the pressure is on for the Mexican to deliver some results.
However, the key question is whether or not it is wise for McLaren to change a driver in 2014 when there will be new regulations and a situation in which it would not be wise to introduce a new driver. There is also the question of whether or not Perez’s Mexican connections will help the team with B2B deals in its new commercial structure for 2014 and beyond.
There is little doubt that the long-term goal is to bring Kevin Magnusson into F1 but it might be wiser to give him a learning year with Marussia and then bring him into McLaren in 2015. McLaren is under no real pressure to make a decision and so Perez’s future need not be resolved until after the season is over.
Over at Lotus, Hulkenberg remains the man in demand but this depends on the team landing the big sponsorship that has been promised. The team is confident that the cash will arrive but the contingency plan if that does not work would be to sign up Pastor Maldonado, with his PDVSA money, as long as a suitable release has been negotiated with Williams. Maldonado is also being muttered about as a possible Force India driver. Sauber will, of course, need a replacement for Hulkenberg but it is clear that Sergey Sirotkin will get one of the rides if he is deemed to be ready for the job. Esteban Gutierrez remains a good choice for the other car, although there are lot so rumors.
Williams is waiting to see what will happen with Maldonado but it is fairly clear that if he departs from Grove (which looks likely) the seat will go to Felipe Massa.
Further back on the grid, one can expect to see Heikki Kovalainen making a comeback in one of the Caterhams. Joe Saward