Driver merry-go-round in F1


SUZUKA, Oct 1 – Fernando Alonso's move to Ferrari is likely to set off a driver merry-go-round with Kimi Raikkonen, Rubens Barrichello, Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica all tipped for team changes.FORMULA_ONEAlonso’s three-year contract will see him line-up with Brazilian Felipe Massa in 2010, leaving veteran Italian Giancarlo Fisichella as reserve driver.

The Spaniard’s arrival at the Scuderia from Renault means it is curtains for Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen, who won the world crown in 2007.

The rumour mill is running hot that he will join Lewis Hamilton at McLaren next year, with contract talks reportedly underway.

McLaren though are not ready to identity Hamilton’s team-mate next year.

"As is already in the public domain, Lewis Hamilton is contracted until the end of the 2012 season," a McLaren spokesman told reporters.

"As regards the identity of our other driver for 2010 and beyond, we have not yet made a decision."

Hamilton’s current team-mate Heikki Kovalainen has had a disappointing 2009 season, and what he does next year is not yet clear.

Raikkonen previously drove for McLaren from 2002 to 2006 — winning nine races.

Talk in the paddock is that Poland’s Robert Kubica will replace Alonso at Renault, driving alongside promising Frenchman Romain Grosjean.

Renault said an announcement on their new driver would be made next week.

"The team and Fernando’s focus is now on finishing the season on a high note with some strong results in the remaining races," it said Thursday.

Meanwhile, Barrichello’s position at Brawn GP is said to be under threat, despite the Brazilian having his best season for years in pushing team-mate Jenson Button hard for the world championship.

Barrichello is understood to be tempted by a move to Williams, with their current top driver Nico Rosberg potentially switching places and going to Brawn.

If the veteran Brazilian goes to Williams he is likely to partner German rookie Nico Hulkenberg, who is widely seen as replacing Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima.

Speaking at Singapore last week, Williams technical director Sam Michael made no secret of the fact that the team’s preference was for a driver line-up that featured both experience and youth.

"If you have someone who is very experienced that is great because they have experience on set-up and car direction," he told reporters.

"And if you have someone who is young, then they bring enthusiasm.

"We’ve had many different drivers in Williams over the years in both camps — experienced guys and rookies — and they have all had their plus and minuses. But the most important thing is that they are fast. This is first and foremost for us."