In Monza the paddock was rife with the speculation that Fernando Alonso was sure to be announced as a Ferrari driver for 2010 only for the the confirmation to come a few weeks later. At the time the conventional wisdom, said that the driver market was waiting on Alonso's move and all would fall into place like clock work. Turns out its not been so slick and smooth. McLaren have not announced who will partner Lewis Hamilton next year and that is turning out to be the intrigue of the silly season (the off season).
News that Jenson and his manager visited the Mclaren Technology Centre to say hello. Yes people they came to say hello. As I'm no insider we can only read into what seems to be quite and unprecedented move from both camps. Mclaren will be courting Jenson with the promise of a solid pay packet with sponsorship bonuses as is rumoured to be the case with Lewis. The BBC has reported that Jenson has been offered a deal of £6M per year for 3yrs. Other news out lets put the deal at £8M double what Brawn now Mercedes were willing to offer. So that puts Jenson in pole position to partner Lewis but there are no signatures yet and other players are about.
Kimi Raikkonen may well drop out of F1 for next season for missing out on the McLaren sit. That might be a bad move for him and the sport. There is a global lack of top tier drivers in F1 at the moment and the exit of a natural talent like Kimi would weaken the competitiveness of the sport.On the other hand Kimi is in danger of alienating him self from the F1 fraternity if he does sit out the 2010 season. It is understood that McLaren have offered him the same deal as Jenson and they surely see no reason to offer any more upfront cash. Kimi's severance pay from Ferrari is said to be worth £17M if he does not get a drive in 2010 but if he does drive it comes down to £10M and if the McLaren offer is the best he can get then staying home eating ice cream pays more. His manger told a Finish newspaper that he may do some rallies and the Le mans 24hr race. £17M to not race in F1 its a compelling reason. In 2011 F1 would have moved on and the driver market will be a lot more stable so where would he slot back into as neither McLaren nor Ferrari will have seats available. Kimi's manager suggests that Red Bull may be the place for him. If Brawn/Mercedes loose Button they would have to take Nick Heidfeld making an all German line up there and an all British team in Woking. This may make for good headlines and gives some limited milage to the marketing departments when looking for sponsors. On the race track McLaren get the gold star with two World Champions. It still begs why Mercedes would not make Kimi an offer as some might say Kimi is worth 1and a half Button. The next few weeks will tell as the car launch season begins and driver confirmations, over we can enjoy the new year of racing.