So now its official – Kimi will be missing the final races of the season to get his back sorted for next year.
Whilst his departure from Lotus has been less than ideal, and the very public nature of his pay dispute, the partnership has gone well.
Romain Grosjean is looking a lot more complete a driver having had someone else taking a lot of the publicity for the last couple of years. He’s ready for shouldering that additional leadership role next year.
The intriguing aspect of the driver market now is who will replace Kimi.
Personally I think if Lotus could secure Nico Hulkenberg that would give them the best younger driver lineup in F1. Although having a well financed quick driver like Pastor Maldonado could tick a lot of boxes for the chaps at Enstone. I’m still convinced Pastor in a good car is eminently capable of consistent race winning.
You could also make a case for promoting Davide Valsecci – someone who has shown enough promise to warrant a step up.
But then, Hulkenberg would presumably only get the drive if the ever elusive Quantum deal comes to fruition. How many times have we seen these wealthy mystery buyers sneak of into the sunset again.
Who would you like to be in the second car next year?
It’s interesting to watch Romain Grosjean this year, in that he finally seems to be showing in F1, the ability that got him to F1. But he very nearly didn’t get the second chance..
It raises a key question to me – do young drivers get enough time to mature in F1?
Very few drivers get the golden opportunity that Lewis Hamilton got in jumping into F1 in a very top team, and far to many seem to have fallen by the wayside further down the grid.
Given the challenges of financing an F1 team – something I admire greatly in Marussia and Caterham – it’s little wonder I guess that opportunities are limited in the current environment unless you’ve got a bundle of cash.
So what can F1 do to support young drivers in their development? How about a junior F1 championship, where teams could use a 2 year old chassis and perhaps a slightly longer life engine from one of the manufacturers).
Or maybe allowing privateer teams to run a customer programme – it seems acceptable in other forms of Motorsport to have a works and a customer programme.
But of course some think the current back-markers should just pull out of the way when their favourite driver in a top team comes by.
My personal list of recent drivers I think had the calibre include Jaime Alguersuari and Bruno Senna. Ironically if Ross Brawn had gone Bruno in 2009 it could have gone very differently….