With less than 50 days remaining until the start of the F1 season in Melbourne, I figured it would be a good idea to figure out who will be racing.
Not surprisingly there are no major changes in the top teams. Red Bull, Mclaren, Ferrari and Mercedes will have the same drivers as last year. There are rumors of this being Felipe Massa’s last season with Ferrari. Sauber has also kept the same lineup of drivers with Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez. The only difference for Lotus will be in their name which has been changed to Caterham.
Renault has officially changed it’s name to Lotus and have brought back Kimi Raikkonen to head the team. He will be partnered with Romain Grosjean. Raikkonen replaces Vitaly Petrov who is still without an F1 seat for 2012. The only opening remaining is with the Spanish team, HRT. He has also been approached by Pirelli to be their test driver. Romain Grosjean replaces Nick Heidfeld who is reportedly going to sign with Rebellion Racing for a partial season in the World Endurance Championship.
Force India have retained Paul di Resta and have replaced Adrian Sutil with Nico Hulkenberg. Sutil was fired by Force India at the end of last season due to an altercation between Sutil and team owner, Eric Lux. Adrian Sutil faces charges of aggravated assault and will be going to trial at the end of this month. He does not have a seat for the 2012 season.
Toro Rosso has ousted both of its drivers, Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi and have replaced them with Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne. Vergne moves up from the Red Bull young drivers program and was a test and reserve driver for Red Bull during the 2011 season. Alguersuari turned down an offer by Red Bull to become their test driver. This position was claimed by Sebastien Buemi. It is unclear where Alguersuari will be for the 2012 season.
Bruno Senna replaces Rubens Barrichello at Williams while Pastor Maldanado will remain. Rubens Barrichello, who began his Formula 1 racing career in 1993, will not have a seat in the 2012 season. He is scheduled to test drive the IZOD Indy car later this month.
HRT have announced Pedro de la Rosa as one of their drivers. The second seat still remains open. Although Vitantonio Liuzzi has a contract with HRT for 2012 his future within the team remains uncertain.
Virgin has taken on the name of the team’s major stockholder and Russian sportscar maker Marussia. Timo Glock remains and will be teamed up with rookie Charles Pic. Pic has spent the last two seasons racing in the GP2 Series. He finished the 2011 season in fourth position with two wins and three pole positions.
The final major change for the 2012 F1 season will be in its television coverage. It was announced in July that the BBC would share coverage with Sky Sport which has created a new Formaul 1 channel. Jake HUmphrey, Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard will remain as BBC presenters. Martin Brundle will appear in the commentary box for Sky Sport. Sky Sport will have full live coverage of all races from March thru November. The BBC will air ten races (China, Spain, Monaco, Europe, Britain, Belgium, Singapore, Korea, Abu Dhabi & Brazil) live with extended highlight programming for the remaining ten races.
Teams have already begun to unveil their new challengers and liveries. Pre-season testing will be underway in Jerez, Spain starting February 7th.