The Formula 1 driver market for 2014 is currently not very busy.
The teams have been dashing backwards and forwards between Europe and Asia in recent weeks and the driver market for next year has been waiting to see whether Fernando Alonso wants to sneak off to another team now that Ferrari has signed up Kimi Raikkonen.
The other variables are the future of Sergio Perez at McLaren and the folk at the Lotus F1 team waiting for money to arrive from their new backers.
The word is that as and when the money arrives the Enstone team will sign a deal with Sauber’s Nico Hülkenberg, although he may still want to hang out to see what happens with Alonso and/or Perez. McLaren has done a deal with Jenson Button, although this has yet to be announced, but Perez’s future is still unclear.
One name that is now being mentioned as a possible new F1 driver next year is that of Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen, who is a member of the McLaren Young Driver Programme and a man who looks to have a big future.
He has been racing this year in the Renault 3.5 World Series and is way ahead in the championship and the signs are that McLaren would like to place him with another team for a year or so to learn more about racing Formula 1 cars.
The obvious place to put him would be Force India since the team has a technology deal with McLaren, but that does not seem to be happening and the most likely solution would probably be a ride with Marussia.
The Banbury-based team also has a technology deal with McLaren, even if its 2014 engines will be coming from Ferrari. The deal gives Marussia access to McLaren facilities, knowledge and capabilities, including the Woking team’s test rigs, driver simulator, wind tunnel and CFD. Marussia already has a deal to run with Ferrari’s young protégé Jules Bianchi, but this year ran Max Chilton, who came to the team with a large pile of cash.
Marussia is often seen as being the poorest of the Formula 1 teams but that is not actually the truth. It recently posted a 2012 loss of £59 million, which does not sound great, but earlier this year the team owner Andrey Cheglakov decided that he was fed up with the team having financial problems and so decided to capitalise the debt, turning it into equity. In effect he wrote off £138 million.
The purpose of the team is to promote Marussia Motors, which is aiming to be a supercar manufacturer in the years ahead. The boss of this enterprise is a colourful character called Nikolai Fomenko, who used to be a rock star and recently suggested that Marussia will be building its own F1 engine.
If Magnussen does get an F1 break he will follow his father Jan’s path into F1. The older Magnussen drove for McLaren briefly in 1995 and later raced for Stewart Grand Prix in 1997 and 1998.