The first period of the driver silly season has come to an end and we have had 8 driver signings announced today. That means three teams have had unsuccessful bids and will now be going for their #1 driver on the second round. There are benefits to this as some teams in better financial situation chose to pursue 2nd and 3rd tier priced drivers, thus leaving some good names for round 2. However we see ourselves in a potentially new situation where teams still have enough financial strength to bid for the remaining top drivers, and adding to this is the fact the minimum asking price for a big portion of the current field is lower, which means a better driver should be available at a lesser price in 2014 than in 2013 and 2012.
With a stern budget restriction, most manufacturers find themselves very limited when it comes to driver pairing strategy. Customer teams are on the very opposite side of the spectrum, finding themselves able to compete for top drivers on potentially both grid slots. Specifically singling out teams, we have Tornado, FJR, and Shake n Bake with limited funds – considering the potential amount of Aero development that may take place – on one side, and Pedersen, Exolite and Horizon with extra credits and the ability to bid or overbid for the top drivers for two rounds on the other.
After no announcements for Tornado, Pedersen, and Exolite, those three teams actually find themselves in a very good position compared to the rest of the teams. Tornado does have to balance its budget due to its manufacturer status but is able to secure a top driver. Pedersen and Exolite can bid the asking minimum for the top drivers of each round, and as mentioned before, the re-signing of current drivers for nearly all squads means those three team owners – especially the latter two – have the pick of the litter.
As aforementioned, driver minimum prices are very competitive and with the available field, it is difficult to find at least one driver who will not provide excellent value for their cost. Currently four 2013 championship contenders are still free agents and also at extremely good cost. Former contenders are also once again extremely attractive options as they slot between “the best 6” and rookies or young drivers who can provide many points or development options. Do not be surprised to see a current contender go another round, and do not be surprised if a previous perennial face on the grid makes a comeback.
We shall see how the second and ensuing rounds of bidding go!