Winter Casualty list – those we lost for 2013

Unusually for modern Formula One, we had to wait until the new year before many of the seats were allocated for 2013; in fact, we’re still waiting for that last Force India seat to be filled– so who did we lose, over the (admittedly short) winter break?

Kamui Kobayashi

The most high-profile loss of the winter? Despite a solid 2012 campaign that saw him net an emotional maiden podium in front of the home fans at Suzuka, there was no room for Kamui once the departure of Sergio Perez had been confirmed. Regardless of how good Sauber are, they are still an outfit that places considerable faith in pay-drivers to bring in the hard cash that they are so adept at translating into performance.

It's only three short years since Kamui entered F1 with Toyota.

It’s only three short years since Kamui entered F1 with Toyota.

Once Perez and his myriad Mexican sponsors had abandoned ship for Mclaren, the Japanese seat was in peril down to his own, by comparison, rather miniscule offerings; the arrival of Nico Hulkenberg shunted Kamui into an even less tenable corner. With two drivers on their books that possess undoubted talent, it became clear one of them would have to be left out in the cold if the team were to maintain fiscal stability for the year ahead, this coming on board with the promotion of Esteban Gutierrez to the second race seat. Kamui’s fate was sealed, and despite a charity campaign by his loyal fanbase around the world there was nowhere near enough money to secure him a berth at another team.

Will we see him again?

That’s difficult to say. Many people believed Takuma Sato would survive the meltdown of Super Aguri in 2008 by securing a Toro Rosso drive for the following year – he even tested the STR3 extensively before the Italian squad decided in favour of Sebastien Buemi. The days when the door was left open for a driver are long gone, so sadly for Kamui it looks as though his time in Formula One might be numbered. Drivers in the modern sport are quickly forgotten once they are out of the action.

Michael Schumacher

Michael how you want to remember him - a seven time World Champion.

Michael how you want to remember him – a seven time World Champion.

Included for consistency’s sake, despite the decision (apparently) being his own. To anyone on the outside it was pretty clear Michael had little chance of retaining his 2013 seat once Hamilton’s move had been announced and he dutifully hangs up his helmet after eighteen seasons. That he did so gracefully and with a measure of his pride and reputation still intact says much about the man once branded as impossible to beat. His Mercedes rollercoaster may not have delivered the results he or the team wanted and needed, but he seemed more at ease with himself than he did in his Ferrari heyday and this endeared him to a whole new era of Formula One fans that will continue to see his name in the history books for decades to come.

Will we see him again?

No. Then again, we all wrote much the same conclusion in 2006! At the venerable age of 44 the legend must now watch as the new German hero bids to overcome his record seven World titles.

Pedro De La Rosa

Pedro's only podium; 2nd to Jenson Button at the 2006 Hungarian GP for Mclaren.

Pedro’s only podium; 2nd to Jenson Button at the 2006 Hungarian GP for Mclaren.

It’s a sad indictment of Pedro’s racing career that he slips out of the sport relatively unnoticed yet again after fourteen years of on-off competition in the midfield of Formula One. His departure from a regular race seat means for the first time in the twenty-first century there is no driver present who competed in the 1990’s. The demise of HRT was never going to have a huge impact on the Spanish veteran’s hopes of finally bagging a Formula One victory given the diabolical performance of the team since its awkward conception in 2010 and the loss leaves Fernando Alonso as the only representative of Spain on the starting grid.

Will we see him again?

Pedro hasn’t finished with Formula One completely, having secured a contract as Ferrari test and reserve driver. This takes him back to a role he fulfilled brilliantly at Mclaren for several years (most notably during the highly successful 2007/2008 seasons for the team) but the lack of any significant testing sessions may make his role more of a title than a practical exercise. Nevertheless, getting any time behind the wheel will make him a safe bet for any team in the near future which needs a wise and experienced head.

Narain Karthikeyan

Karthikeyan was India's first F1 driver when he joined Jordan in 2005.

Karthikeyan was India’s first F1 driver when he joined Jordan in 2005.

For the second time in his three year F1 career the Indian finds himself without a seat; made redundant from Jordan after a season-ending smash at the Chinese Grand Prix in 2005, this time his money can’t save him as HRT slide under the waves. Karthikeyan never made an impact other than when he appeared to be tripping over drivers lapping him.

Will we see him again?

With pay drivers now seemingly driving as well as anyone else, the opportunities for the Indian are limited. He’s already admitted he’s turning his gaze toward American shores.

Bruno Senna

Despite proving a capable pair of hands during 2012, Bruno never made the sort of big statement that team mate Pastor Maldonado did and consequently pays the price for not having sufficient financial backing to maintain his seat. 2012 was not stunning, yet it was anything but a disaster and Bruno contributed a sizeable haul of points to the Williams championship bid. In a move so often ruthlessly employed by Sir Frank Williams he finds himself axed for his efforts.

Will we see him again?

Bruno always had a reputation to live up to - it wasn't easy.

Bruno always had a reputation to live up to – it wasn’t easy.

Bruno has made a comeback before (in 2011 with Lotus Renault after being dropped by Hispania in 2010) so he knows how to keep himself motivated should he be sidelined for another season. However, he is not his legendary Uncle and consequently stands little chance of making another comeback.

Timo Glock

A late addition to the casualty list, Glock was unceremoniously bundled out of the Marussia squad barely a fortnight before testing began in Jerez. Glock was one of that rare breed – an F1 driver that scores points on his debut, which he achieved with Jordan at the 2004 Canadian Grand Prix. Returning with Toyota in 2008 as a regular driver saw him net three podiums over two years. When the Japanese marque folded a promising career took a distinct nosedive and he landed up at the fledgling Virgin outfit for 2010. Despite repeated promises, the team have never made significant progress and Glock’s demise owes as much to the precarious financial position of the Anglo-Russian undertaking as much as anything else when he agreed to sacrifice his own ambitions for the good of the team.

Will we see him again?

As with so many other cases, a year out will hurt the likeable German’s chances of ever regaining a competitive seat in Formula One. Should Marussia ever make it big, you’d like to think they will remember the debt they owe the man who did so much to get the team through its early days…

Timo stood down for the good of his Marussia team. Here he is in better times, with Toyota in 2009.

Timo stood down for the good of his Marussia team. Here he is in better times, with Toyota in 2009.

Heikki Kovalainen

Although it’s no surprise given the rumours floating round the paddock at the end of the last season, the loss of Heikki will be felt in the pitlane more keenly than most thanks to his jovial and friendly nature. Caterham may have made a serious error of judgement in ditching the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix winner as it leaves them with two very inexperienced hands with virtually no experience of developing a car, something Kovalainen had a part in at both Renault and Mclaren. Although he never matched up to Lewis Hamilton during his time at Woking, there was no doubt the Finn was a talented and promising driver. That his career was cut short by dedicating himself to a team that would ultimately betray him is a sign of the cut-throat behaviour that prevails in Formula One.

Will we see him again?

There’s a touch of the Mika Salo about Heikki Kovalainen. Dependable, reliable and occasionally remarkable; sadly unlike the days of Salo drivers can no longer dip in and out of the sport with impunity. Heikki is likely to become another permanent casualty, but will live on in the history books as the 100th different driver to win a race in Formula One.

Heikki scored his one and only Grand Prix win in Hungary in 2008.

Heikki scored his one and only Grand Prix win in Hungary in 2008.

Vitaly Petrov

Petrov has lost out at perhaps the worst possible time; as a Russian, he was looking forward to racing at Sochi sometime in the near future but those plans appear to have been terminally hit. His obvious highlight is that 3rd place at Melbourne in 2011 when he shared the podium with the talents that are Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton – sadly his career never reached the same heights again. His fate at Renault was sealed by the return of Raikkonen and the Caterham deal was always going to be a stop-gap.

Will we see him again?

The chances are greater than you might think. Russia is a wealthy country (in parts) and they would dearly love one of their own to be on the grid when Sochi hosts that first grand prix in 2014. LADA have strong ties with Petrov, and that money will be sure to count for something when a seat with one of the lower teams comes up for grabs at the end of 2013.


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