Friday, 20 May 2011

Contracts, Contracts and more Contracts

This month seems to be all about contracts - both within F1 and personally I must say. Recently, Fernando Alonso announced that he will be staying with Ferrari until at least 2016 - an extension of 5 years. Quite some time really, considering how changeable F1 can be. With this announcement, speculation that Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel could move to Ferrari has been ceased. This got me wondering how much of a balance there is between a driver signing a contract to secure their future and simply to stop the speculation.

A while ago Sebastian Vettel confirmed that he would be staying at Red Bull until the end of 2014 (much to my joy as that means I will graduate from university while Sebastian is still racing for my favourite team - just a fun fact for you there!). Christian Horner announced that he was pleased with this outcome, again as it stopped speculation that Sebastian would be leaving Red Bull.

The amount of stories in the media which revolve around who is going to which team is insane. Every year there are debates about who will go to Ferrari, whose career is coming to an end, who will be replacing whom and so on. Why is there such speculation? Simply because it's interesting. However, very few people actually cite the younger drivers who could come into F1 - the interest lies in working out which of the renowned drivers will be moving.

Keeping up with the debate is often tricky. Last year I believe that people were saying that Kubica could swap with Massa and go to Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel was interested in going to Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton also wanted to go to Ferrari and I remember a story which said Schumacher could return to Ferrari too. If you believed all of this then Ferrari would have at least five drivers. There seems to be very little logic in deciding who is moving where - often stories are based on heresay and who we would like to see in a team. More often than not, the teams simply renew contracts with their current drivers however this is rarely presented as an option. Also, stories tend to be based around something that a specific driver said once upon a time. Sebastian Vettel argued that one day it might be nice to drive for Ferrari - just after this he renewed his contract with Red Bull and put a stop to the stories starting 'Vettel May Move to Ferrari'.

So, returning to my original point of whether renewing contracts was for the driver's benefit or for the cessation of speculation, I can't really blame the teams. Hearing stories of who will be moving to your team must be stressful. Perhaps it's even more stressful for the poor drivers who might be 'replaced' by another driver. Maybe the contracts do serve the function of ending the media speculation - perhaps we can refer to them as F1's super injunctions!