The Formula 1 world packed up in Brazil and headed home after eight months on the road. It is going to be a busy winter for all concerned, however, as the teams battle to find the money they need and start development work on a completely new generation of engines, which will require very different cars.
At the moment the teams are still trying to sort out who is going to drive where in 2014. We know the top teams already, with the exception of Lotus. The Enstone team is hot in pursuit of Pastor Maldonado, who will deliver a sizeable chunk of sponsorship for the team.
The hopes that a very large pot of money will arrive from from the planned share sale to Quantum Motorsports seems to be fading fast, which means that Nico Hülkenberg – Quantum’s choice – may have quit and signed a deal with Force India.
The future drivers of Sauber remain rather unclear as well, with Maldonado, Hülkenberg and Sergio Perez being the big players in the market at the moment. Adrian Sutil, currently at Force India, could be moving to Sauber. There have been all kinds of rumours about who will go where, with suggestions of Sauber’s Esteban Gutiérrez leaping to Marussia, although Max Chilton seems to have his feet under the table there.
There have been rumours of a merger between Sauber and Marussia, but that is never going to happen.
In the interim the F1 team principals have been meeting in Paris to discuss the future. The meeting of the F1 Strategy Group, an organisation which does not include the smaller teams, has come up with a few ideas, including the concept of giving drivers their own numbers so that they can be more successful in terms of merchandising.
This is similar to the system used in Nascar, where drivers use their numbers as brands. In F1 some will argue that this will be confusing, since teams will not have consecutive numbers – but given that no-one can read the numbers anyway, it is fairly irrelevant.
The biggest question about the new structure is not so much about the matters of the moment, but rather whether it is really legal as it takes away the voice of some of the competitors.