The 2014 F1 driver market: What happens if...

How the dominoes might fall into place for next season's grid

By Pete Gill.   Last Updated: 19/08/13 11:57am

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If Daniel Ricciardo leaves Toro Rosso...
Then Lotus' hopes of retaining Kimi Raikkonen would be transformed into an expectation, although suggestions the Finn may return to Ferrari continue to gather pace.

In effect, Ricciardo's promotion - expected to be confirmed this weekend at Spa - would see him leapfrog the likes of Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta as the 'next cab off the rank' and serve to diminish their hopes of landing a top-team seat for 2014 with Lotus. At Toro Rosso, the blow of Ricciardo's departure would be compensated by the weighty and beneficial endorsement of the team's role as a stepping stone to the big time, with the hugely-rated (not highly, hugely) Felix da Costa a near certainty to replace Ricciardo alongside Jean-Eric Vergne in 2014.

If Kimi Raikkonen leaves Lotus...
Then, because all teams consider continuity an essential virtue towards future wellbeing, the prospect of Romain Grosjean being offered a contract extension would solidify and Lotus would surely be minded to seek out an alternative team leader as opposed to another young buck to partner the accident-prone Frenchman. Distilled into specifics, think Hulkenberg or Di Resta rather than the relatively raw Vergne - with whom Lotus are reputed to have held talks earlier this year.

If Kimi Raikkonen stays at Lotus...
Then all of the above would be flipped on its head, with Grosjean less likely to be retained and Lotus negotiating from both a position of strength and flexibility as they consider their options. Di Resta, Hulkenberg or Vergne? The choice would be all theirs.

If Felipe Massa leaves Ferrari...
Then F1 retirement would surely beckon for the Brazilian and the sport could be looking at an Alonso-Raikkonen dream team in 2014. The terms under which Raikkonen departed the Scuderia in 2009 - including a reputed £20m pay-off - are a significant obstacle to overcome, but after so many barren years, and with Alonso perhaps not as rooted to Maranello as previously thought, it is at least possible to believe Ferrari may be tempted towards considering rehiring the Finn.

Otherwise, Hulkenberg, a long-term link with the Scuderia, would seemingly be next in line ahead of Di Resta, with Bianchi also in the frame despite Ferrari's reluctance to consider Sergio Perez a year ago due to the Mexican's "inexperience".

If Fernando Alonso leaves Ferrari...
Then all bets are off. Massa's hopes of a contract extension would increase on the basis that Ferrari are probably unlikely to want a complete revamp of their line-up, but Alonso's departure would be such a grievous blow that they may just opt to start afresh from an entirely blank page.

Fortunately for Ferrari, the chances of Alonso departing remain remote and the bombshell link with Red Bull - sparked by a meeting between Christian Horner and Alonso's manager at the Hungaroring - is more likely to have been a mutually-beneficial negotiating ploy - lowering Raikkonen's demands on the one hand, disturbing any complacency at Ferrari on the other - than an outright consideration. Still, stranger things have happened in F1 and the notion of that Ferrari could rehire Kimi Raikkonen - despite that pay-off - has been promoted into feasibility by comparison.

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