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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.

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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."

Comments

  • 1. At 12:23pm on 11 Jul 2009, FazzleinMK wrote:

    I think it's a real shame that SB hasn't shone in F1 as he did in Champ car where he was often untouchable. I can't believe that it's that all the drivers in the states are fat chumps (Paul Tracey!) so maybe it's that the cars in F1 are much more important... interested to know people's thoughts!

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  • 2. At 1:59pm on 11 Jul 2009, AusRacing wrote:

    I think a hamilton and kubica line up would be interesting. kovalinen is crap and has been demolished by hamilton.

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  • 3. At 2:26pm on 11 Jul 2009, Esteffect wrote:

    Buemi hasn't really outperformed him, he just had a good and somewhat lucky first race. He seems like he may have more potential than Bourdais, but for a small team he seems more error-prone and he's been off the track more definitely.

    Bourdais is probably one of those drivers that would do well in a fast car, and poor in a slow one. He'll never get a fast car, though, so we'll never know. Certainly the likes of Kubica and Button are good drivers, but unless the car is any good, they are awful and often outperformed. In a quick car I think Bourdais would be doing very well indeed.

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  • 4. At 2:38pm on 11 Jul 2009, Nick_Robertson wrote:

    In reply to FazzelinMK, Bourdais is driving exactly the same car as Sebastien Buemi, and has been outperformed by a rookie who never really shone in GP2. I don't rate Bourdais at all, he's struggled in F1. This shouldn't be a reflection on all drivers in the US, but it does seem to be filled with a large number of F1 rejects (such as Justin Wilson). F1 is the pinnacle of open wheeled motorsport, so it's only natural that it would attract a large proportion of the best drivers.

    As for the rumours of Bourdais' departure, There's always one driver that's reported to be on their last chance (It was Piquet until a few races ago). I think Bourdais has been given more than long enough to perform, but Toro Rosso shouldn't be too hasty in replacing him with an untested rookie!

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  • 5. At 2:54pm on 11 Jul 2009, Millerfred wrote:

    What about Kimi Raikonen returning to Mclaren alongside Lewis Hamilton. Id love to see those two drivers in the same car. Kovalaainen has done a poor job for Mclaren and surely will be axed at the end of the season. Who else will Mclaren want to drive for them? ...Kubica, Rosberg, Barrichello
    Alonso or Vettel are sure to drive for Ferrari in the future. Alonso will be at Ferrari next year with Massa. I think Vettel will stay with Red Bull next year but will more to Ferrari in 2010.
    I bet Toro Rosso wished they had signed Sato insted of Bourdais. However I dont think Bourdais has been as bad as Piquet or Nakajima. I would love to see Loeb or Algueseri at Toro Rosso.

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  • 6. At 3:16pm on 11 Jul 2009, Nooner wrote:

    Fred, I just can't see Kimi joining Hamilton, he will retire is my bet.
    Also why would you believe Kovalainen will get bumped next year, he's only 4 points behind in what is an inferior car to his team mate. Even today he wasn't given the updated version and was just behind Hamilton.
    It was good to see McLaren improve today though, I just hope Hammilton doesn't cock it up at the first corner for them, we all know he has a history of acting "stupid" as Kimi once said.

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  • 7. At 3:51pm on 11 Jul 2009, FastBBBB wrote:

    Bourdais hasn't been outperformed. He has been driving more consistently thatn Buemi and gotten better positions. His average position this year is 11th and Buemi's 12th. The same with Piquet Jr. last year he had an average (this explained to me why he kept his seat) of 8th and Alonso was sixth and that's only because of his win. Kovalainen is doing fine. Nakajima has his team to blame on numerous amounts of occasions. Bourdais has made a couple of stupid errors but it's not like they've lost him anything. Last year and this year the worst average position was done by Sutil even with Davidson and Sato only doing a couple of races in '08. In 2007 he was the worst full year driver. I will admit that he had a few chances that wee taken away from him but his teammates out averaged him be 2 places on average from 2007 to now.

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  • 8. At 4:27pm on 11 Jul 2009, cordas wrote:

    I really wonder why people are lining Alonso alongside Kimi at Ferrari, Kimi has been off the boil since he won his DWC, and this season there is clear air between him and Massa in terms of commitment and dedication. Both are good drivers, both have flaws, but Massa seems to be working hard to overcome his and Kimi just seems more interested in anything else.

    I also wonder how long Trulli is going to be in the sport, he has flattered to deceive pretty much his entire career, if Toyota are serious about winning races and championships then they need to get a driver who is serious about racing rather than a single lap specialist who tends to become a mobile chicane once the lights go out on a Sunday afternoon.

    Piquet Jr really needs to improve his game and show what he is made off if he wants to remain in the sport as well, maybe a move away from being Flavio's unloved 2nd driver could help, but I can't see many teams taking the chance.

    I also think Rosberg could probably do with a game of musical chairs, he seems to be floundering at Williams, the car appears to be quick up until the lights go out and the racing starts. He has shown some real skills on occasion but the partnership between him and Williams just don't seem to be working for whatever reason.

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  • 9. At 4:51pm on 11 Jul 2009, Esteffect wrote:

    I'm not convinced that Toyota will be around much longer if they continue to fade as they are right now, because they did state that race wins were needed in order to still be in the sport for 2010. I think that would be end of Trulli, but I'd like to see Glock stick around.

    I think the two midfield drivers (drivers who've never one of the quickest cars, basically) that would be interesting to see in a truly competitive car are Nico Rosberg - who I honestly believe could be a WDC and would be outperforming Barrichello at Brawn GP - and Timo Glock, whose car wasn't competitive for long enough to judge. Those two together would be pretty interesting, actually.

    The drivers that I can see being gone in 2010, ignoring any prospect of teams pulling out, are Fisichella (to retirement), Piquet (dropped), and Bourdais (dropped). I'm expecting Nakajima to stick around as long as Toyota are in the sport, which might mean he's gone, and I think other drivers that could be outsiders for being dropped (Kovalainen, Raikkonen) would find drives elsewhere.

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  • 10. At 4:54pm on 11 Jul 2009, Esteffect wrote:

    One final possibility is - and I know they have indicated an all American line-up, but there's not a massive talent pool of good US drivers who'd jump to F1 I suspect - that Bourdais could end up at USF1 next season. He'd probably be a good proposition for an American team, given that he's higher profile there than a lot of other drivers.

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  • 11. At 5:47pm on 11 Jul 2009, edwardzen wrote:

    Raikkonen is still in another league from Massa despite his downturn since the Championship. Ferrari would be best to replace Massa and use the technical knowledge of Alonso with the out and out speed of Raikkonen. Massa is overrated due to a couple of wins last year at the only tracks he can win at and a daft stewards' decision in Belgium - he couldn't even keep on the pace of Raikkonen in Japan last year when he was meant to be the championship contender.
    Piquet getting into Q3 today was a nice sight to see that he is at least trying to be in F1.

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  • 12. At 6:56pm on 11 Jul 2009, Icecream-Man wrote:

    Raikkonen made it very clear he intended to finish his F1 career with Ferrari and had no interest in going elsewhere.

    While it would indeed be interesting to see what he could do back with McLaren, or moving to Brawn, I can't see it happening.

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  • 13. At 8:04pm on 11 Jul 2009, cordas wrote:

    Kimi on his day is a better driver than Massa, but his days are few and far between. Massa on the other hand gives his all the time, even when he has lost the plot he carries on trying.

    Massa is also far more of a team player, he wears his heart on his sleeve and is passionate about Ferrari and from the interviews and press statements he has given through out the season has been encouraging the team and leading from the front, Kimi on the other hand comes across as being a black hole, giving nothing to the team.

    If Kimi still had the fire in his belly to win then Ferrari would be mad to let him go, but that Kimi hasn't been seen in a long time....

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  • 14. At 4:28pm on 13 Jul 2009, TreezaGreen wrote:

    Sebs not done too well this year, i'm a fan of his but he hasn't exactly shone although to be fare this years car doesn't look up to much. TR will struggle even more with two rookies in the team but I suppose the decision they are making is to write off the rest of the year and see if Algesauri is any good for a 2010 drive (and a guest appearance from Seb Loeb at the end of the year .. all star F1 courtesy of Red Bull!)
    Kimi will either see his contract out or leave F1, I can't see him staying, he's lost all interest (and to be fair the car is rubbish) Ferrari will have to pay him off big style if they want to get rid of him but it might be worth it to have an eager and motivated Alonso in the seat instead. Kimi won't come cheap so I don't think Brawn will be interested, they need someone at a reasonable wage who is motivated, which takes kimi out of the equation, Rubhino seems to have shot himself in the foot so who goes to Brawn, thats the interesting one.. Kubica?

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  • 15. At 5:17pm on 13 Jul 2009, cordas wrote:

    I wouldn't rule Rubens out of the 2nd seat at Brawn just yet.... Yeah he has had an attack of foot-in-mouthitis, but I think Ross knows exactly where that came from and as long as Rubens is prepared to apologise in private and make some nice words for the press this storm in a tea cup will pass. Must say I expect to see Bruno Senna partnering Jenson in the white car next year.

    Sorry but Bordeas has had plenty of opportunities to shine, with his experience and track record from the states he really shouldn't have been outshone by 2 rookies, but he has. Get Algesauri into the car and lets see what he can do, Red Bull I am sure will be looking for a driver to replace Vettle in the not to distant future... In many ways I see him a Ferrari before Alonso, and I think he would make a better job of it. Alonso will want the Schumi deal at Ferrari and I don't think he will get it, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him spitting his dummy out.

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  • 16. At 02:06am on 14 Jul 2009, Stee_vee_E wrote:

    Theres probably a vast amount of F1 viewers who, if they read this, wouldnt be too sure who were writing about, as Bourdais has to virtually implode before getting any kind of a mention on the good ol BBC.
    OK, slight exaggeration. But heres my point.
    Example 1. Kimi breaks down. Kimi gets interviewed during race. Bourdais breaks down. Passing comment if hes lucky.
    Example 2. Bourdais 8th at Monaco. No mention at all. Not a sausage.
    TR have had a terrible season, despite being RBs sister team, & yet weve been furnished with more pointless clap trap about Buemis lifestyle in Bahrain, & how he loves to play there with his chum Hamilton, than the possible reasons behind the apparent demise of the team. A team which appeared so promising last year (with or without Vettel). Cmon BBC, I thought this was car racing?

    Anyway, I hope Seb doesnt go & the team improves so we can truly see whos who.

    Rubens too. He should stay, but it would be far more fun if he aimed his outbursts at another driver & not at his own team. The drivers are far too friendly. Oh, the days of Senna! Hah!

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  • 17. At 09:12am on 16 Jul 2009, swrcsky wrote:

    My girlfriend loves Bourdais - though I think she loves laughing at him than supporting him - so I know at least one person who will miss him.

    Bourdais is one driver who should have done really well in F1 but perhaps driving in Champ Car for so many years has dulled his natural ability. Though I would agree he has had his chance with Toro Rosso and perhaps it is time to move on.

    And as for Kimi back at McLaren...? McLaren!??! The whole point of him leaving them was so he could go out and party all night like an 'old school' F1 driver ha ha

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  • 18. At 6:48pm on 16 Jul 2009, Pasinho wrote:

    The main reason why Kovalainen looks off the pace compared to Hamilton is that last year's lucky champion gets preferential treatment at McLaren (just ask Alonso!). Most importantly he almost always gets lighter fuel load in qualification, hence he easily beats Kovalainen. And if you beat your team mate in qualification (and have an updated car whereas your team mate doesn't), you are bound to come on top in the race too. Do the weight adjusted calculations of qualification and all of a sudden Hamilton doesn't look so sharp compared to Kovalainen anymore.

    As of Kimi, he's got a crap car at the moment and he is followed by his usual bad luck, just as he has been througout his career, except in 2007. Massa is working very hard though and proving to be much better than most people gave him credit for; leaving Kimi in the shade way too often.

    Regardless of who goes, I hope some team snaps Takuma Sato back up to F1!

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