Today’s announcement of Mercedes GP Team regarding the extension of the contract of Nico Rosberg is bad news for Ferrari. It is not a secret that Ferrari was interested in Nico Rosberg like they were with Jenson Button.
Both of the drivers agreed with their teams and in 2013 they will have a roof over their heads. What is Ferrari looking for? Domenicali was quoted saying (in a question regarding on if Hamilton would have any Ferrari future) regarding the “right combination” : “For the Ferrari of the future, I believe the right combination is to have one well established driver with great experience, alongside a talented youngster on the way up. I do not think that, with the pressure we are under, we can consider having two youngsters in the team at the same time”. At the same interview he praised once again Alonso telling he’s number one driver in F1.
Of course Jenson Button isn’t a “talented youngster on the way up”, he’s far more than that, on the other hand Rosberg is 26 and “on the way up”. Jenson was a wished person since he proved he could stand next to a “top driver” and perform under any circumstances, contrary to what many believed when he joined McLaren last year. On the other hand Rosberg has the potential and is much respected by the Maranello guys, even though, when you look closely, Michael Schumacher did better than him this season. Nevertheless both of the options are now gone for Ferrari and when the time comes to replace Felipe Massa then their plan might go to the approach Domenicali mentioned.
Who are their potential drivers? It’s not an order to pick one of the guys at the Ferrari Driver Academy, but Perez and Bianchi are the hot candidates, with the Mexican having the upper hand. Many times in F1 the decisions are not based purely on racing criterias. We cannot judge if Bianchi is better than Perez or the other way around. Propably the people who attended in the famous “shootout” a month ago in Fiorano might have a better view on the things.
The plus of Perez is that he will have already 2 full F1 seasons under his belt, with Bianchi trying to have a shot at Williams for 2012, with the chances been very slim. Another factor is Santander with presence in many countries. If you look at the numbers Santander’s profits are coming from Brazil over 25% with Mexican branch having a good 9% and growing. Sponsors do put pressure on teams regarding drivers.
Don’t count out the fact that there is no problem in a coexistence of Telmex for example and Santander, rather the opposite, having two giants cooperating in big markets and with Ferrari as the wagon. As time passes by Perez is gaining more points for having a serious go on the Ferrari seat. In 2012 Massa will have a hard job, trying to convince the team that he can go back to his 2008 performance. If he can achieve this then he will a candidate for the seat, otherwise things will be hard for him. And Kubica ? Is he out? There were rumored attempts to bring Kubica and Ferrari in an agreement, even after his accident. He’s a long shot and still a questionmark for the Maranello team. So for now they look at their real options and Perez has the upper hand, even if Massa is counted in for the race.