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Axe hangs over Bourdais

F1 Mole | 10:19 UK time, Saturday, 11 July 2009

Formula 1 drivers are bracing themselves for the end-of-season game of musical chairs and, if the rumours are to believed, one driver could find himself squeezed out of a race seat come Monday morning.

The marked man in question is Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Bourdais.

In his second season in the sport, the 30-year-old has collected just two points and, to make matters worse, he's been out-performed by rookie team-mate Sebastien Buemi.

The word at the German Grand Prix is that the axe is about to fall on Bourdais, with recently installed Red Bull reserve driver Jaime Alguersuari favourite to fill his seat as soon as the next Grand Prix in Hungary.

Meanwhile, world rally champion Sebastien Loeb has thrown in a curve-ball by telling French newspaper L'Equipe this morning that he fancies the Toro Rosso drive this season.

bourdais595.jpg

Bourdais has been here before, coming under fire after running into Buemi in Barcelona and Heikki Kovalainen in Silverstone.

The Frenchman has found himself defending his position once again in Germany this weekend.

"I don't have to feel secure or insecure," said Bourdais, who built his reputation as a four-time Champ Car Series winner in the US.

"There is one rumour that has been repeated by others without verifying the facts.

"The facts are that for the moment there is nothing that says anything other than that I will be finishing the season with Toro Rosso, I have a contract for that.

"I'm here at the Nurburgring and I'm going to drive the car and that's the end of the story."

Bourdais may well find his F1 career cut short sooner than the rest but he's not the only driver staring at an uncertain future - half the drivers on the grid are out of contract at the end of the season.

Championship top two Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello only signed one-year contracts at Brawn Grand Prix.

Red Bull's Mark Webber, McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen and Toyota's Jarno Trulli also find themselves without a deal for 2010.

Both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen are signed up to Ferrari until the end of next year, as is Fernando Alonso at Renault.

But that hasn't stopped persistent rumours that the Spanish double world champion is already lined up to replace Raikkonen alongside Massa next season.

If Alonso finds himself wearing a red racesuit in 2010 what would become of Raikkonen?
That conundrum has been giving F1 journalists something to talk about over their schnitzel here - could the Finn replace Barrichello at Brawn, can Ross Brawn afford the 2007 world champion, even if he arrives with a hefty Ferrari pay-off?

Or will Raikkonen, who will try his hand at rally driving in Finland at the end of the month, walk away from F1 altogether?

Fellow rally fan Robert Kubica is rated as one of F1's hottest properties but the 2008 race winner is struggling to prove his worth in an uncompetitive BMW Sauber.

The 24-year-old's contract expires at the end of 2010 and unless Brawn, Ferrari or McLaren come a-calling he may well have to see out another season with BMW.

The future of the drivers provides plenty of grist to the paddock rumour mill but it's an issue the men behind the wheel want to avoid.

Toyota's Timo Glock played a straight bat in Germany saying: "These questions are sometimes quite difficult to answer but let's say the future doesn't look too bad."

Sebastian Vettel, on at least a two-year deal with Red Bull, added: "I can say whatever you want to hear but I think everybody knows about my situation next year. I'm very happy."

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