It’s going to be a big week in F1. And it’s started already.
The 1 Malaysia Lotus F1 Team has seen its driver line up unveiled in Kuala Lumpur this morning, with confirmation that Jarno Trulli will head up the team alongside Heikki Kovalainen, with Fairuz Fauzy filling the reserve driver role. It’s a sensible line-up. Jarno’s still one of the fastest guys around over a lap, and Heikki is a seriouusly talented guy who, for one reason or another, hasn’t ever had the right berth to show what he can do. As for Fairuz, he came second in World Series last season, but often looked out of his depth in A1GP and GP2.
Tomorrow Virgin Racing will be officially unveiled in London, but it is currently unclear whether the team will be announcing its second driver. Timo Glock has already been unveiled as one of the squad’s drivers, and Lucas di Grassi is the favourite for the second seat. Adam Carroll is a possibility for the reserve driver role.
The Renault sale story also continues to rumble along, with reports doing the rounds that a deal has been done for 75% of the team to be sold to Genii Capital, ie Gravity Racing. The squad will remain known as Renault. Neither Renault nor Gravity would comment on the situation when I spoke to them late last week, but have confirmed that some news should become available within the next few days.
But quite possibly the largest piece of chocolate hidden behind the door of the advent calendar this week is the news leaking out of Germany that Mercedes has done what many thought was the impossible and lured Michael Schumacher back to a race seat in F1 with a lucrative £20 million per season. While it’s not as vast a sum as he commanded in his years at Ferrari, in the current world of the credit crunch and considering we’re talking about a team which turned down Jenson Button’s salary demands on the basis they couldn’t afford it, £20 million would immediately make Michael one of the best paid drivers in F1. The German press is reporting that Schumacher has talked his way out of his recently agreed three year deal with Ferrari to be ambassador to the firm’s road car division, and will mark an incredible return to racing at the head of the first full Mercedes factory F1 team since the 1950s.
It’s going to be a big week in F1. Loads of news to come. Watch this space.