Yesterday it was announced that Mercedes has taken over the Brawn GP F1 team after purchasing a 75.1% stake in the team; the team will be renamed Mercedes Grand Prix. Ross Brawn will stay on as the team principal (DUH!). They'll sell their 40% stake in Mclaren back to them over the next two years but will still continue to supply them engines until 2015. This news is surprising considering that three manufacturer teams have left in the last year (Honda, BMW and Toyota) but it's estimated that it was cheaper for Mercedes to buy the majority share of Brawn GP than stay in their current deal with Mclaren, and this means there'll be at least 2 manufacturer teams in F1 next year; them and Ferrari are sure bets while Renault's future is still up in the air.
Nico Rosberg is already expected to drive for Mercedes GP next year while Nick Heidfeld has a good shot at completing an all-German duo for the German manufacturer. The team will be run by Brits but I'm sure that won't be in the marketing.
This results in the surprising scenario where the championship team from this past year ceases to exist and their drivers who went 1-2 in the drivers standings last year are off to different teams. Rubens Barrichello has already signed with Williams-Cosworth while it's expected that Mclaren will field the two reigning British F1 champions in Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Apparently Mercedes was either so intent on having an all-German driving duo that they'd risk throwing aside the reigning world champion or they thought that last year's championship was all car, little driver. We'll know for sure if that last part was true or not now that Button will have another car capable of contending for the championship but will have arguably the best driver in F1 today as a teammate to compete against. But Button's known for his smooth driving style and the ban on refueling will benefit drivers who can conserve the tires so it'll be an interesting in-team battle next season.
Unfortunately this news means the end of 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen's F1 career for the immediate present if not forever, since Mclaren was Kimi's only option of staying in F1 because he would only accept signing for a team with a winning car. Unless something crazy happens to open a viable seat for Kimi to step into, he's probably going to be rallying in 2010.
Fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen is also looking for a new ride, with a return to Renault or a ride with one of the new teams his best options.
In other news the new teams are starting to shore up their lineups; Bruno Senna will drive for the Campos Meta team, Timo Glock was just announced today as one of the drivers for Manor Grand Prix and Jarno Trulli is expected to drive for Lotus since he's worked with the team's technical chief Mike Gascoyne at Jordan, Renault and Toyota. USF1 has yet to announce their lineup, and in fact their viability has been criticized, but while it's uncertain whether they'll have an American driver in their first year Alexander Rossi seems like the best bet to be that driver; in his GP2 debut at Abu Dhabi he was the highest finishing rookie in 4th in the feature race and finished 5th in the sprint, good enough to even attract attention from other teams. Alexander Wurz has been talked about as a candidate to be USF1's experienced driver.
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