With the Haas F1 announcement today, we have what seems to be an open seat at Lotus F1 for 2016…that is if the team actually make it to 2016 given the press reports of their impending demise under the weight of massive debt should Renault decide not to acquire them. Let’s assume Renault does acquire the team and has plenty of resources to continue in F1.
If that is the assumption, then who would fill Romain Grosjean’s vacant seat? Reserve driver Joylon Palmer? Carmen Jorda? Or would the team look for other talent behind the wheel?
There is a certain Frenchman named Jean-Eric Vergne who is currently a Ferrari reserve driver that might fit the bill both professionally and nationally so to speak. This would fulfill my long-dreamed of situation of Alain Prost on the team wall, a Frenchman in the driver’s seat and the car in French racing blue. I would love to see that once again.
But what about McLaren’s current issues? If Jenson Button wasn’t keen to leave McLaren for a backmarker, would he leave for a team that knows how to win and won two title most recently with his current teammate Fernando Alonso?
Speaking of Alonso, many say he has a 3-year deal with McLaren but I have to think that getting out of that now might be more of an option given the team’s difficult season. Perhaps he could be interested in coming home to roost and seeing if he can win another title with Renault?
Then there is the throng of young paying drivers who would love the chance to partner Pastor Maldonado in 2016 at Renault. Could they be a factor simply based on the money they bring? Pastor already delivered something in the neighborhood of $30 million to drive so do they need more from their other driver?
Certainly Grosjean’s move to Haas F1 might be an effort to get a Ferrari drive at the end of Kimi Raikkonen’s stint in 2016 so perhaps Ferrari might loan Esteban Gutierrez to Haas and JEV to Lotus F1 in order to get them seat time.
It’s all speculation but who do you feel would make the best candidate for the vacant seat at Lotus/Renault? One last thing, what about Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s issues? If they pull out, and Chrsitian Horner said it is very dire for STR at the moment, then could it be a place for plucky teen Max Verstappen?