The Lotus F1 team swapped one Finn for another
when Ferrari-bound Kimi Raikkonen vacated his seat
two races early to have a back operation. Heikki
Kovalainen was reasonably fast, too, which may
earn him a 2014 race seat with Caterham.
The only thing harder for a racer than
getting to Formula 1 is making the right
impression once you’re there. You’ve got
to be fast and aggressive, yet not rock the
establishment boat. It’s a hard equation to
balance in the best of circumstances, let
alone when your team is struggling.
For Sergio Perez, several parts of that
equation went wrong after joining
McLaren on the strength of his impressive
rise with Sauber. McLaren’s patience was
already being tested by a huge drop-off in
car performance from last year. Run-ins
with teammate Jenson Button didn’t help
and, when CEO Martin Whitmarsh finally
acknowledged Perez was being replaced
A complex sequence of events at the tail-end of the
season kept F1 drivers and their agents hopping
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with junior driver Kevin Magnussen (see
separate story), it was almost a relief for
“Checo.” His alternatives were a return to
Sauber or joining Force India. As we went to
press, the latter seemed the most likely.
Another overnight sensation of 2012,
Pastor Maldonado, also had it all go sour
at Williams. Yet, with $40m of Venezuelan
backing, he was able to land at Lotus to
replace Ferrari-bound Kimi Raikkonen. This
left Nico Hulkenberg, most people’s choice
on Lotus’s behalf, without a top ride and
instead heading back to Force India.
With Force India set to partner Perez
with “The Hulk,” that left both Adrian Sutil
and Paul Di Resta looking for rides in 2014.
Ex-Ferrari golden boy Felipe Massa takes
Pastor Maldonado’s place at Williams in ’14.
The Venezuelan heads to Lotus, where he’ll
surely struggle to match Romain Grosjean.
Most regard Nico
Hulkenberg as a
potential F1 World
Champion, but with
Red Bull, Mercedes
Ferrari and Lotus
filled, he’s destined
for another year
in the midfield.
MASTER AND COMMANDER