This year’s silly season is proving to be one of the most intriguing on record. Genrally, by this time in the year, many of the following year’s driver changes have already been announced. This year, however, the paddock has been waiting for Fernando Alonso to announce his choice before letting the usual driver shuffle commence.
It is widely assumed that Alonso will move to Ferrari next year, although an obvious obstacle to this has been the fact that both of Ferrari’s current drivers, Kimi Raikonnen and Filipe Massa are under contract throgh the end of 2010. A preamture termination of the contract would involve a driver payout based on his expected salary for 2010. It’s been assumed that Raikonnen, who has seemed uninspired since his title win in 2007, would be asked to vacate his seat for Alonso. Problem: Raikonnen’s annual salary is reputedly in the neighborhood of $49 million per year.
According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, however, McLaren have opted to sign Raiknonnen to replace their current Finnish pilot, Heikki Kovalainen. It has been rumored that Spanish banking sponsoer Santander, which will sponsor both Ferrari and McLaren next year, are helping to fund the transition for Raikkonen. It is also thought that the acutal cost to McLaren will be far less than Raikkonen’s current $50 million salary at Ferrari. According to The Telegraph report, lawyers for McLaren and Ferrari were busy at the race venue all weekend hammering out a deal.
Meanwhile, Alonso has been coy about making his announcement for next year, although this weekend at the Singapore GP, he did admit that he had made his decision. Presumably, he is waiting for Raikkonen’s departure from Ferrari to be finalized before announcing his own plans. There is a possibility that this will happen at next week’s event at Suzuka.
Image by AdrianaPerezMuñiz, licensed through Creative Commons.