In the Formula One version of musical chairs, the music may be close to stopping and the vacant seats are few. Today's announcement by Scuderia Toro Rosso claiming they will dump Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi in favor of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne dims the light on the future for displaced drivers.
To date, we have 2011's crop of misfit toys and we are still clinging on to last years bounty as well. Brunno Senna, Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi, Nico Hulkenberg, Jerome D'Ambrosio, Nick Heidfeld, Vitaly Petrov, Rubens Barrichello (possibly), Karun Chandhok, Narain Karthikeyan, Vitantonio Liuzzi (possibly), Kamui Kobayashi (possibly according to rumors) all make for a field of talented, seasoned Formula One pilots.
There are precious few seats left for 2012 and a host of drivers to choose from. The list doesn't include all of the junior series drivers clamoring for a position in the major leagues and this easily doubles the heads to seat ratio.
In the end, the teams left looking are also in need of cash. They are willing to consider drivers with sponsors or financial backing in a pay-to-drive scenario and that may thin the list of possible drivers but it still leaves more drivers than seats.
Williams F1 and HRT are two teams with a seat apparently open. In the past, it has been difficult to find a driver with the skill, race craft and potential for F1. Now that equation seems completely reversed and the teams are in the best possible position to field the best possible driver. In the end, that driver will not necessarily be the fastest, most competitive but the one with the most cash dangling from his pocket.