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We are not even half way through this thrilling 2012 season yet, yet already the "silly season" is well underway. F1 never stands still and it is clear that while all eyes remain on this year's championship, there is still plenty of potential for the driver market to receive a serious shake up.
In recent weeks, much has been made of Lewis Hamilton's future. It seems as if following his World Championship success in 2008 with the team, the relationship has become strained. A difficult 2011 didn't help, and consistent embarrassing errors from the team heightens speculation that Lewis could leave the Woking based squad. But with Hamilton only targeting championship success, his options are limited.
Lewis recently offered a cryptic clue into his future, stating that he'd made his mind up and that he was ready to do a deal. Some view that as a statement that he's happy to remain at McLaren, but others think Hamilton is ready to leave the team.
One potentially available drive could be at Mercedes, alongside Nico Rosberg. Michael Schumacher's come back in 2010 was originally stated as a three year plan, and we are now into that third year. Certainly it would be easy to see Michael's reasons should he retire at the end of this year.
Despite having improved his performance, as seen with his recent podium in Valencia, numerous frustrating mechanical problems could convince him to retire. Ross Brawn and Michael himself say that no decision has yet been taken, and some within Mercedes believe Michael will remain in the sport for 2013.
Paul di Resta is another one to keep an eye on. Since entering the sport at the start of last season, his reputation has increased and numerous top teams have been reportedly keeping an eye on him. Logic dictates that if he was to move away from Force India, it'd be to join Mercedes. The Scot won the prestigious DTM championship for Mercedes in 2010 and is seen by many as a Mercedes protégé and a potential replacement should Schumacher step away. However, McLaren are also known to be interested and it is not unlikely that should Hamilton leave McLaren, di Resta could end up there alongside Button for 2013.
There is also plenty of speculation surrounding the other top two teams, Ferrari and Red Bull.
As I wrote in an article a few weeks ago, the main speculation surrounding Ferrari involves Felipe Massa. The Brazilian has found some stronger form in recent races, yet it is still likely that Massa could lose his Ferrari drive - a team he has been at since 2006 - at the end of this season. It is less certain however, who could replace him.
Sergio Perez remains a firm favourite by many as a potential candidate to replace Felipe. However, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo recently spoke out at such speculation, criticizing the Mexican for being too inexperienced. That was before Perez's brilliant podium finish in the Canadian Grand Prix, a result that will have not have harmed his chances at all. Many within the paddock believe that Ferrari could simply perform a trade with Sauber - a Ferrari engine customer - with Perez moving to the Italian team with Massa being demoted to a Sauber drive.
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