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[Formula 1] 2011 Silly Season


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It's the time of the year again: Let's start speculating which driver will be driving for which team in 2011. Confirmed data in blue.

Red Bull Racing Renault

1. Mark Webber (AUS)

2. Sebastian Vettel (GER)

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

3. Lewis Hamilton (GBR)

4. Jenson Button (GBR)

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro

5. Fernando Alonso (ESP)

6. Felipe Massa (BRA)

Mercedes GP Petronas

7. Michael Schumacher (GER)

8. Nico Rosberg (GER)

Renault F1 Team

9. Robert Kubica (POL)

10. Kimi Räikkönen //approached the team for a seat in 2011.

Force India Mercedes

11. Vitantonio Liuzzi

12. Adrian Sutil //not yet confirmed

AT&T Williams Cosworth

14. Rubens Barichello

15. ? //Hulkenburg/Williams couldn't come to contract agreement.

Sauber Ferrari

16. Nick Heidfeld //could keep his seat for the next season

17. Kamui Kobayashi

Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari

18. Sebastian Buemi

19. Jaime Algersuari

Team Lotus Renault //return to 'Team Lotus' from 'Lotus Racing' to be announced; switch to Renault engines increasingly likely after the Cosworth contract has been terminated

20. Heikki Kovalainen

21. Vitali Petrov //possible solution as part of a Renault engine deal; would free the 2nd Renault seat for Räikkönen

Virgin Racing Cosworth

22. Timo Glock

23. Lucas di Grassi

Hispania Racing Team Cosworth //future of team is uncertain, I wouldn't be surprised if HRT didn't make it to the 2011 grid

24. ?

25. ?

Epsilon Euskadi Cosworth might apply for the HRT grid slot if the latter fold.

If you hear any further rumours, or disagree with the grid above or have other suggestions post below.

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Unlikely to happen. R?ikk?nen is said to want to stay in WRC.

I know but one can dream, edited it anyway to him to go to VRC just to be on the top end of the scale of sillyness hehehe

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I don't see Raikkonen returning to F1. Once he took the title, his motivation seemed to go, and he generally seemed out of sorts in Ferrari. Don't think he produced anything like the brilliance he did whilst he was at McLaren.

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Lotus closing in on Renault deal

Lotus is close to finalising a switch to Renault engines for next season - but the deal still hinges on whether it can find an agreement with Cosworth to end its contract with the famous engine-maker two years early.

AUTOSPORT understands that a deal has been agreed in principle for Lotus to secure a supply of Renault customer engines for 2011 ? which would see the team receive the same specification of power-unit as other customer outfit Red Bull Racing.

It is believed the move came out when Lotus originally sought out a new supplier of gearboxes and transmissions for next year ? after frustrations with reliability in that area throughout the course of this season.

Renault was more than happy to supply its gearbox and transmission units but, on the back of a push to increase its engine supply deals, it made a big effort to sell its power unit as part of the package too.

However, despite sources suggesting that a deal is ready to be signed for Lotus and Renault to tie up for the first time since 1986, the Hingham-based outfit still needs to resolve contractual issues with Cosworth.

As part of the deal it made when it entered F1 this year, Lotus signed a fixed three-year contract with Cosworth ? and it is believed there is no break clause that would allow the team to get out of that unless the Northampton-based engine supplier was willing to do so.

It is not clear at the moment whether a financial settlement can be reached for Cosworth to agree to cut short its deal, or whether Lotus will be forced to delay its Renault ambitions.

Neither Lotus nor Cosworth have elaborated on the situation, and both insist that there are no plans for their relationship to change for now.

Cosworth general manager of F1 operations Mark Gallagher said: "As with the other new teams, Lotus has a fixed term three-year contract with Cosworth and we are very pleased it is happy with our engines and the job we have done for it during its first season in Formula 1."

Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne said: "We've got a contract with Cosworth and there is no further comment to make."

Source: Autosport

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I hope we get to see Karun Chandhok and Anthony Davidson back on the track in 2011. Top guys!

Agreed. Karun has, for my money driven well this season, and been a match for Senna. It was disappointing to see him lose his seat to what is essentially a pay driver.

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FIA decides against new team for 2011

The FIA has announced that none of the organisations bidding to become Formula 1's 13th team in 2011 have met its requirements, and that the grid will therefore stay at 24 cars.

The governing body had invited applications from parties interested in filling the slot left vacant by the collapse of the US F1 project on the eve of the 2010 season.

Several teams put in applications, including a partnership between former world champion Jacques Villeneuve and Italian ex-GP2 team Durango, plus a new bid from rejected 2009 applicant Epsilon Euskadi.

But the FIA World Motor Sport Council decided in a meeting today that none of the applicants were suitable.

"Following the press release of 19 March 2010 calling for expressions of interest to participate in the 2011 and 2012 seasons of the FIA Formula One World Championship, a number of interested parties expressed their interest," said an FIA statement.

"It was considered that none of the candidates met the requirements to be granted an entry into the championship.

"Consequently, the allocation of the 13th team will not be granted."

A number of candidates for the entry withdrew their applications during the process, including multiple GP2 and Formula 3 champion squad ART and new American organisation Cypher Group.

Others considered to be potential F1 entrants declined to participate, including Prodrive and Lola, both of which had made attempts to join the world championship in previous years.

The three outfits that entered F1 as part of last year's new team application processes - Hispania, Lotus and Virgin - have all yet to score or to regularly threaten the established midfield squads.

Source: Autosport

So much for a full grid in 2011.

Updated 2011 grid:

Red Bull Racing Renault

1. Mark Webber (AUS)

2. Sebastian Vettel (GER)

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

3. Lewis Hamilton (GBR)

4. Jenson Button (GBR)

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro

5. Fernando Alonso (ESP)

6. Felipe Massa (BRA)

Mercedes GP Petronas

7. Michael Schumacher (GER)

8. Nico Rosberg (GER)

Renault F1 Team

9. Robert Kubica (POL)

10. ?

Force India Mercedes

11. Vitantonio Liuzzi

12. Adrian Sutil //not yet confirmed

AT&T Williams Cosworth

14. Rubens Barichello

15. Nico H?lkenberg

Sauber Ferrari

16. ?

17. Kamui Kobayashi

Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari

18. Sebastian Buemi

19. Jaime Algersuari

Team Lotus Renault //return to 'Team Lotus' from 'Lotus Racing' and switch to Renault engines rumoured

20. ?

21. ?

Virgin Racing Cosworth

22. Timo Glock

23. Lucas di Grassi

Hispania Racing Team Cosworth //future of team is uncertain, I wouldn't be surprised if HRT didn't make it to the 2011 grid

24. ?

25. ?

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Also published by the FIA today: The provisional race calendar for 2011.

13/03  Bahrain
27/03  Australia
10/04  Malaysia
17/04  China
08/05  Turkey
22/05  Spain
29/05  Monaco
12/06  Canada
26/06  Europe (Valencia)
10/07  Great Britain
24/07  Germany
31/07  Hungary
28/08  Belgium
11/09  Italy
25/09  Singapore
09/10  Japan
16/10  Korea
30/10  India*
13/11  Abu Dhabi
27/11  Brazil

* Subject to homologation of the circuit

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Epsilon 'respects' FIA's decision

Epsilon Euskadi boss Joan Villadelprat says he respects the FIA's decision to not grant the 13th team slot for the 2011 season.

The governing body said on Wednesday that none of the candidates met the requirements to join the Formula 1 grid next year, with Epsilon conceding the financial aspect of the project was still not secured.

The Spanish squad, which had already applied to enter the sport last year, told AUTOSPORT that it was still not ruling out securing the budget for the 2011 season, in which case it would contact the FIA again with the hope that it is allowed to join the grid.

Villadelprat made it clear he would not bring his team into Formula 1 until the necessary budget was in place.

"First of all, I would like to say that we respect the FIA's decision of not granting the allocation of the 13th license," said Villadelprat. "If, having all the information about the candidates, they decided that this is the best option is because it must be.

"As a personal opinion, I think that it is best to leave it vacant rather than having a team that, given the deadlines and requirements, would almost be impossible to be ready for 2011.

"We knew it would be very difficult for us to be chosen since, as I always said, we still don't have the economic package granted. Without this capital it would be unfeasible to carry out the F1 project that we want.

"And without this capital neither would we commit ourselves to do it. We have the ideal facilities and work force for Formula 1 and we will keep working to get there sooner or later."

Villadelprat, who last year had the necessary financial backing to enter the sport, is still hopeful of finding the money.

"Last year we had investors we couldn't get back this time," he said. "The fact that we don't have it now doesn't mean that we couldn't have it within a short period of time. As soon as we have it, we will be able to set other scenarios out."

He denied, however, that having worked on the F1 project has been a waste of time.

"Not at all! Everything we did had an aim, which was to be ahead in order to be ready in case we were granted the entrance," added the Spaniard, whose team had already tested its wind tunnel model.

"This didn't happen but all the work done until now helped us to gain and keep accumulating experience and know how in the field.

"Automotive and racing is in our DNA but we also work in other industries which benefit from our advances and experience."

The Epsilon boss also suggested he was not ruling out some sort of partnership with another team to enter Formula 1.

"As I said, the 13th license was one way but not the only one to get into Formula 1. We definitely consider other possibilities, which can be very different.

"We are talking about options that haven't occurred yet but, I repeat, we will keep working both on the financial and development packages to be ready for when these options may come up."

Source: Autosport

Emphasis mine. Hm... Epsilon Euskadi must be speculating on HRT going bust and inheriting the 12th grid slot.

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Virgin set to retain Glock, di Grassi

Virgin Racing team principal John Booth says his team is closing in on a deal to retain its current line-up for 2011, despite speculation linking GP2 front-runner Jerome D'Ambrosio to the outfit.

Timo Glock already has a firm contract for next season, while there is an option on Lucas di Grassi that can be taken up.

And although rumours in Monza suggested that D'Ambrosio had emerged as a leading contender to grab a seat alongside Glock, Booth has hinted that everything is on course for di Grassi to stay.

"Obviously Timo is here next year, his contract is tight with both of us, and both of us are very happy with what is happening," said Booth about the driver situation for next year. "So Timo is 100 percent.

"We have an option on Lucas which looks pretty good as well, so in an ideal world we will keep the same drivers next year."

When asked if the speculation suggesting d'Ambrosio was in the frame was true, Booth said: "No. I've heard similar rumours as well, but it's that time of years for rumours.

"Jerome has been helping us out a little bit since [test driver] Andy Soucek left. All he has been doing is helping us out as a stand-by because he has a superlicence."

Source: Autosport

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Cosworth, Lotus agree to end deal

Cosworth has announced that it has reached an agreement to end its current engine supply deal with the Lotus team.

The move paves the way for Lotus to sign a deal with Renault, with whom the team has reached an agreement in principle for a supply of engines, gearboxes and transmissions, as revealed by AUTOSPORT earlier this week.

"Cosworth has reached an agreement in principle with Lotus Racing whereby the team's Cosworth engine supply agreement will come to a conclusion at the end of the current Formula 1 season," said Cosworth in a statement on Sunday night.

"This agreement is subject to contract and until the agreement is signed, neither party will be making any further comment."

Lotus driver Jarno Trulli retired from today's Italian Grand Prix with a gearbox problem, prompting team boss Tony Fernandes to post on Twitter: "Jarno retired [due to] gearbox. Oh well, making decisions easier."

Source: Autosport

This means we are going to see a Team Lotus Renault next year. Nice. It would be great to see a classic team name be competitive again.

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Raikkonen bids for 2011 Renault seat

Kimi Raikkonen is making a fresh bid to return to Formula 1 next year after approaching the Renault team for a drive in 2011, AUTOSPORT can reveal.

Although it had looked likely that Raikkonen would remain in the World Rally Championship next year after his switch of discipline for this season, AUTOSPORT has learned that Raikkonen has renewed his interest in getting back to grand prix racing.

Sources have revealed that in the wake of Renault's impressive form at the Belgian Grand Prix, Raikkonen approached the French car manufacturer with the intent of putting a deal together.

It is not clear, however, whether Raikkonen spoke to Renault himself or if it was done through his management team.

Raikkonen has always insisted that he would only come back to F1 if he was in a competitive car - and that is something that Renault now appears to be able to offer him.

But despite Raikkonen's credentials, Renault is in no rush to advance talks with him - and it is still holding on for current driver Vitaly Petrov to prove he can deliver what the team is demanding of him.

Renault team principal Eric Boullier confirmed that Raikkonen had approached the team - and is in contention for a seat alongside Robert Kubica in 2011.

"It is true that the summer has passed and we have had more and more requests - and the guy you mentioned [Raikkonen] is on the radar now," Boullier told AUTOSPORT.

"He is on the radar because he contacted us."

Boullier has long said that the team will keep Petrov next year if the Russian can improve his consistency throughout a whole race weekend - and not make silly errors like his spin in qualifying in Spa and blocking Timo Glock in qualifying at Monza.

When asked what Petrov had to do to convince Renault that he is a better option than Raikkonen, Boullier said: "He is not very far away to be honest.

"It is still very complicated for him to have a complete weekend and be faultless, and that is where he needs to work and focus on, and develop clearly his commitment and dedication."

One of the attractions of Petrov is the commercial possibilities he opens up in Russia, and Boullier said Renault would have to change its approach if it decided to take the Raikkonen route.

"It would be a different strategy for the team," he said. "And that is not a question of personality or having a world championship title - it will cost me more if he is world champion than if he is not. It is not a question of this - it is a different strategy.

"You work differently if you have a rookie - and in supporting him - than if you have two experienced drivers. So it is different.

"We need to think about it. But the priority is Vitaly, and to see how he will develop. If we are convinced then we will keep him definitely. This is the first option.

But there are several other options, and one of them is Kimi."

Boullier said he expected a decision on Renault's 2011 driver line-up to be made before the end of the season.

Source: Autosport

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^ Not sure really. I think Heikki is another interested party in a move Renault, he's a class driver really. Lotus using Renault engines next season should see them into the competitive mid-field (hopefully). Not sure if it was entirely the Cosworth engine package that was holding the team back (although Cosworth have been doing very well for Williams....). Either way, 2011 is shaping up to be awesome!

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Updated 2011 grid:

Red Bull Racing Renault

1. Mark Webber (AUS)

2. Sebastian Vettel (GER)

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

3. Lewis Hamilton (GBR)

4. Jenson Button (GBR)

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro

5. Fernando Alonso (ESP)

6. Felipe Massa (BRA)

Mercedes GP Petronas

7. Michael Schumacher (GER)

8. Nico Rosberg (GER)

Renault F1 Team

9. Robert Kubica (POL)

10. Kimi Räikkönen //approached the team for a seat in 2011.

Force India Mercedes

11. Vitantonio Liuzzi

12. Adrian Sutil //not yet confirmed

AT&T Williams Cosworth

14. Rubens Barichello

15. Nico Hülkenberg

Sauber Ferrari

16. Nick Heidfeld //could keep his seat for the next season

17. Kamui Kobayashi

Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari

18. Sebastian Buemi

19. Jaime Algersuari

Team Lotus Renault //return to 'Team Lotus' from 'Lotus Racing' to be announced; switch to Renault engines increasingly likely after the Cosworth contract has been terminated

20. Heikki Kovalainen

21. Vitali Petrov //possible solution as part of a Renault engine deal; would free the 2nd Renault seat for Räikkönen

Virgin Racing Cosworth

22. Timo Glock

23. Lucas di Grassi

Hispania Racing Team Cosworth //future of team is uncertain, I wouldn't be surprised if HRT didn't make it to the 2011 grid

24. ?

25. ?

Epsilon Euskadi Cosworth might apply for the HRT grid slot if the latter fold.

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Interesting goings on at HRT, they still seem to be in trouble for 2011. As you may know Epsilon has already started wind-tunnel testing of their model for 2011, their application was rejected with all the work being done and in tact. That being the case; they said that they had another way in, so what easier way to get in than to take over or join with HRT. They (HRT) may have a manufacturer on board and not epsilon but the cards seem to be stacking that way.

Joan Villadelprat - After his application was rejected

Q. "Are you saying that you might be considering other options to enter Formula 1?"

JV: "As I said, the 13th license was one way but not the only one to get into Formula 1. We definitely consider other possibilities, which can be very different. We are talking about options that haven't occurred yet but, I repeat, we will keep working both on the financial and development packages to be ready for when these options may come up."

Colin Kolles - On HRTs future

Q. Earlier this season there were rumours of a technical partnership - and then rumours linking you with Toyota. What is the situation there now?

CK: We will have a technical partnership, but I am not going to disclose with whom. We have made some progress on this front in Monza.

Senna on HRT

"For this season, I'm pretty certain I'll be in the cockpit until Abu Dhabi. For next year my first option is to stay with the team, but it's not certain yet. We haven't done proper negotiations for next year.

"Of course we're talking to many people in the paddock to make sure I get opportunities in other places as well if they're available. The priority right now is to perform as well as I can and make a point that I can be competitive in any car. We're talking and we're doing the work inside and outside the track and I think the odds are not so bad."

Interesting water cooler thinking for a friday.

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HRT have achieved absolutely nothing, and bring nothing to the sport. Lotus, and Virgin have at least gained some speed, but HRT just languish at the back. If they want to convince people that they have a workable business proposition, they need to find some performance.

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Force India set to promote di Resta

Paul di Resta is set to graduate to Formula 1 as a race driver for Force India next season, today's AUTOSPORT magazine reveals

The Scot, currently racing in the DTM, has impressed the team with his performances during his Friday practice outings this season after being recruited with the long-term aim of grooming him as an F1 race driver.

Although the Force India has yet to finalise its driver line-up for 2011, with question marks over both Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi, AUTOSPORT understands that the intention is to promote di Resta.

Which seat he will take depends largely on whether Sutil remains with the team or moves on next season.

The team is believed to want to retain Sutil for a fifth season, but the German is still considering his options, with a switch to Renault on the cards.

Sutil said he is hoping for a decision very soon.

"It was quiet in the last week. But I want a decision very soon so hopefully after Singapore, or closer to Japan, I will have some news. There were no further discussions."

And the German reckons he is prepared to drive for a bigger team is the opportunity arrives.

"I think I'm ready. A driver is always ready for a good car, you could say, but I have a good car here. I want to make sure that I find a really much better team than Force India if I move and that's hard to find.

"There are a lot of positive aspects in this team - that's why it was the first team that I talked to to ask about my future as well. It would have to be something really interesting for me to change."

Source: Autosport

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Lotus confirms Team Lotus name deal

Lotus has announced that it will operate under the Team Lotus name from the beginning of next season, after Tony Fernandes bought the rights to the name.

As predicted by AUTOSPORT.com, Fernandes has arranged the deal to use the famous name that the team last raced with in Formula 1.

"The whole aim was to own our future rather than operate under a [Lotus Racing] licence," Fernandes said today. "For next year we will not operate under the Lotus Racing but Team Lotus banner. It will bring history full circle and operate under as Team Lotus as Colin Chapman did."

Fernandes also admitted that Lotus has arranged a new engine supply deal for next season, but refused to confirm that it is with Renault.

AUTOSPORT.com predicted earlier this month that Lotus was closing in on an agreement with Renault, but that it would hinge on Lotus finding a way out of its tie-up with Cosworth. But Cosworth last week revealed that it has agreed to end the deal, leaving the door open for Renault.

"We obviously have something," Fernandes said when asked about an engine deal. "Today we wanted to focus on the name. We obviously have a deal on the table for the engine, and when we are ready to announce it we will."

Source: Autosport

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sauber signs Perez for 2011 season

The Sauber team has announced that Mexican Sergio Perez will race alongside Kamui Kobayashi in the 2011 season.

The 20-year-old, who is currently in second place in this year's GP2 championship, will become the first Mexican Formula 1 driver since Hector Alonso Rebaque, who competed in grand prix racing from 1977 to 1981.

Perez, who is yet to drive Formula 1 machinery, has raced in GP2 and GP2 Asia since late-2008, having won the British Formula 3 national class championship in 2007.

"Formula 1 is the dream of every young racing driver," said Perez. "And now this dream is about to come true for me.

"Although I'm very much aware that this is also a big challenge and responsibility, I'm happy to accept that and am proud to be representing my country in the highest category of motor racing.

"I would like to thank Peter Sauber for the faith he's shown in me and I'll do everything I can to make the most of this wonderful opportunity."

Peter Sauber added: "Sergio has been on a continuous upward curve over the past few years. He demonstrated his fighting spirit in races over the course of last season and proved that he's ready to take the step up into Formula 1.

"I look forward to working with him and am in no doubt that, in Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi, we will have a strong driver pairing."

The Swiss squad also announced a partnership with Telmex, the Mexican telecommunications giant owned by Carlos Slim.

The company's logos will appear on the Swiss car starting from next year.

"Sauber has been not only a very successful racing team but also a strong talent developer of some of the most recognised names in racing since their early stages as well as one of the most respected people in the sport," said Telmex chairman Carlos Slim Domit, the eldest son of Slim.

"Their decision of having Sergio with them is very significant on his career to become a top driver representing Mexico. For Telmex and our racing project Escuderia Telmex it's a great step forward, and we feel very proud to be able to consolidate these years of work for having a Mexican driver in F1 with Sauber Motorsport."

Sauber continued: "Telmex has been involved in motor sport for a number of years already and supports drivers in various race series. Now they are making the key step up into the top category of motor racing, and we are happy and proud that they are taking this step with us.

"Telmex is an outstanding company and represents a strong partner for our team. We are looking forward to a fruitful partnership."

Source: Autosport

If you just went 'Who did they sign? Never heard of him!' - well so did I.

Updated 2011 grid:

Red Bull Racing Renault

1. Mark Webber (AUS)

2. Sebastian Vettel (GER)

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

3. Lewis Hamilton (GBR)

4. Jenson Button (GBR)

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro

5. Fernando Alonso (ESP)

6. Felipe Massa (BRA)

Mercedes GP Petronas

7. Michael Schumacher (GER)

8. Nico Rosberg (GER)

Renault F1 Team

9. Robert Kubica (POL)

10. Kimi R?ikk?nen //approached the team for a seat in 2011.

Force India Mercedes

11. Vitantonio Liuzzi

12. Adrian Sutil //not yet confirmed

AT&T Williams Cosworth

14. Rubens Barichello

15. Nico H?lkenberg

Telmex Sauber Ferrari

16. Sergio Perez

17. Kamui Kobayashi

Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari

18. Sebastian Buemi

19. Jaime Algersuari

Team Lotus Renault //return to 'Team Lotus' from 'Lotus Racing' to be announced; switch to Renault engines increasingly likely after the Cosworth contract has been terminated

20. Heikki Kovalainen

21. Vitali Petrov //possible solution as part of a Renault engine deal; would free the 2nd Renault seat for R?ikk?nen

Virgin Racing Cosworth

22. Timo Glock

23. Lucas di Grassi

Hispania Racing Team Cosworth //future of team is uncertain, I wouldn't be surprised if HRT didn't make it to the 2011 grid

24. ?

25. ?

Epsilon Euskadi Cosworth might apply for the HRT grid slot if the latter fold.

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