2012 F1 driver roster set in stone or is it?

Italian Jarno Trulli who was under contract for Caterham (formerly Team Lotus) for the 2012 season suddenly finds himself without a drive for 2012; being dropped by Caterham will probably mean the end of his 14 year F1 career. He is being replaced by former Lotus Renault (formerly Renault) driver Vitaly Petrov, which is seen as a money deal as Petrov isn’t exactly the greatest driver on the grid, there are far better drivers also out of contract, Adrian Sutil for example!

In my opinion Petrov is only in F1 because he comes with an enticing sponsorship package, he will never be a ‘great’ driver, his main claim to fame is holding up Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso for most of the 2010 season finale at Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi. Last season he finished only three points ahead of his team mate at the start of the season, Nick Heidfeld, and the Russian competed in eight more races than Heidfeld, who was dropped by Lotus Renault after the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Caterham dropping one of his contracted driver just a few weeks from the start of the 2012 season makes me wonder if any of the other tail end teams will opt for different drivers because of sponsorship money they would bring with them! I have long hated pay drivers in Formula One, F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport, not a pay as you go motorsport, I believe pay drivers make a mockery of what F1 markets itself to be, if teams can’t afford to run two race cars in 20 races with two paid (salaried) drivers, get the hell out of the sport and compete in F2/F3 instead.

When I last wrote about the drivers market back in December, there was only two remaining drives available, one at Williams and the other at HRT. Now we know that Bruno Senna will occupy the second Williams seat, I like the idea of Senna in Williams overalls for nostalgia reasons, Williams F1, Renault engine and a Senna behind the wheel, let’s just hope it doesn’t end in the same manner. I also believe that Bruno Senna has not been given a real chance in Formula One, eight races in a Lotus Renault and a season in a HRT hasn’t allowed him to show his potential. Speaking of HRT, the Spanish outfit has re-signed Indian pay driver Narain Karthikeyan to partner Pedro de la Rosa, nothing unexpected here, I predicted this in my previous article about the drivers market!

As for 2012 testing; I refuse to read anything into testing times; it’s so rare that testing form carries through to the season, I will eagerly await qualifying in Melbourne on the 17th of March, only then will we see the true pace of the cars and drivers… just under four weeks until the F1 season starts in anger… it will be interesting to see who made the best interpretation of the new rules, no more blown diffusers, hopefully this will level the playing field somewhat! I really hope that Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel don’t run away with the title like happened in 2011!

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