Will all twenty drivers see out the season?

With just four races of the season left to go, none of the ten teams left in the championship has made a change to their driver line-up. No teams show any sign of ditching their drivers any time soon.

Earlier on in the season there were rumours that Renault were losing patience with Nelsinho Piquet. But a lucky drive to 2nd place in Germany helped his cause. It has to be said, he has steadily improved in his performances. He appears to have secured his place until the end of the season.

There were also murmurings that both Force India drivers were threatened with being replaced with test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi. But little has been heard of this rumour for several months as Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella have both performed adequately.

Additionally, there was a rumour that David Coulthard would retire immediately after the Italian Grand Prix. However, this too has died down and it looks as though the Scot will see out his final season.

If all twenty drivers manage to see out the season, it must surely be the first time this has ever happened. I’ve checked every season right back to 1989, but I can’t be bothered to check the rest — but I’d be surprised if any season had this kind of consistency in its line up.

Arguably, 2008 doesn’t quite make the cut either as Super Aguri, along with its two drivers Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson, withdrew from the championship prior to the Spanish Grand Prix. But that can’t detract from the achievement of the other 20 drivers in the championship who are on the verge of, collectively, achieving what no other F1 grid has achieved before.

For me, it is a testament to the quality in display in F1 this season. The cars are all incredibly close to each other in performance, and the twenty drivers in the grid are all pretty much deserving of their seat.

Formula 1 appears to have shaken off the curse of the pay driver. I read earlier in the season that 2008 is the first time there has not been a pay driver on the grid, and I can well believe that. Thankfully we haven’t seen the likes of Sakon Yamamoto, Yuji Ide or Ricardo Rosset on the grid this season.

This is how the pinnacle of motorsport should be: twenty slots for the twenty best grand prix drivers in the world. It doesn’t often happen, but I think it has happened this year. The twenty drivers that have raced all season can reasonably argue that they are genuinely among the most talented in the world. F1 teams’ reluctance to hire any of this season’s GP2 drivers underlines this.


  1. I thought Piquet was a pay driver, no? I heard that they needed his money to pay for Alonso’s return.

    Also, I can’t quite agree that the “cars are all incredibly close to each other in performance.” They may be closer than other years, and definitely having Toro Rosso suddenly surge helps defend this view. But incredibly close, really?

    And yet, I honestly prefer this to the single engine idea our good friend Max proposes. Axis has some good comments on this. It’s great to see Alonso in that dog of a car; I like that the performance of cars changes during the year (BMW have clearly worsened, Toro Rosso the opposite); I like that some circuits suit some cars better than others; I like seeing Glock being able to defend himself quite well in a very fast Istanbul against a McLaren. If all the cars had the same engine, and if aerodynamics were limited–as I understand they will be next year–that particular duel with Kovalainen would probably would never have happened. At that time Glock was superior and I believe the inferior Kovalainen only got there because of his car.

    I’ve gone off track a bit… Back to the point. I will admit I do not want to see the remaining 20 drivers see out this season. This is what I want to see (it’s a bit of a fantasy of mine)–I want to see Montezemolo kick Raikkonen out halfway through a racing weekend (in Toro Rosso vs Scott Speed-style) to walk down the paddock to go get Fernando off Briatore. That would be a riot.