No team ever says "XY doesn't fit into our commercial plans", yet it happens. As you know, I presume. "Lack of experience" can be code for almost everything.
This goes the other way round too, there's good probability that Perez' sponsor relations fit rather well with McLaren, yet you won't hear them stating that as a reason to sign him.
True, however we know that Santander do play a part in this.
So look to see who would Santander prefer?
Massa, Santander's biggest market is Brazil and that is their highest profit base.
Another alternative would be Bruno Senna.
Next up would be Paul di Resta with the UK being the next highest.
Then it would be Jaime Alguersuari being Spanish
Then it would be Sergio Perez for Mexico (they've had a massive increase with shares in Mexico in the last few weeks).
Then it would be Nico Hulkenberg.
Now I'm looking at the realistic options options for the available drivers. But that is based on market share without taking other things into consideration. Hiring a big name such as Schumacher could overcome that due to being so high profile.
The majority of that list could be wiped out. Especially with the consideration that Luca said Sergio was not experienced enough unless there were other reasons behind it (which is what I personally suspect and it isn't to do with joining Mclaren).
So lets shorten the list. Santander also sponsor Mclaren, their bases covered are Spain (Alonso), UK (Button), Mexico (Perez).
That also rules out Jaime as they don't need another Spanish driver. Likewise I'd say the same with Paul. The UK website is based upon Mclaren. I think it might be a clash having 2 British poster boys from 2 different teams.
That narrows it down to 3 (excluding Michael).
Massa, Senna and Hulkenberg.
If there is a deal between Vettel and Ferrari for either 2014 or 2015, then it is down to which of these drivers are prepared to drive as a potential number 2 driver for the maximum of 2 years (potentially only one) who a) gives the biggest market exposure to Santander b) Also has to bring home solid results to aim for the WCC.
Not sure whether Bruno's results are enough to turn Ferrari's heads, he hasn't been mentioned anywhere.
So using the Santander business model I've narrowed it down to the 2 names that are being touted in the press.
Massa is going to have to take a paycut, he is currently one of the highest paid drivers on the grid. I don't think he can justify such a high salary with the results.
Moving away from the business model of Santander, I see that playing number 2 to Alonso actually might not be the career suicide many think. If a driver is confident enough in his own abilities and can look a bit further ahead then he could be in a prime position. This is where I see Hulkenberg playing the game. There is a potential Red Bull seat up for grabs in 2014. Well there is one as Mark only works on 1 year contracts, so potentially 2 seats. Hulkenberg would not need to beat Alonso, just stay close to him and play the team game. Then get friendly with Horner and Marko.
As both Di Resta and Hulkenberg are being touted, my guess that Hulkenberg would be the better candidate to play the waiting game. That is just how I perceive him from the way he comes across on TV. I am only going by that assumpion.
Personally, I'd love to see Michael come back home, but I'm not so sure of what the terms would be and whether he would be prepared to have a low salary in a high paying team. A low salary at somewhere like Sauber would be expected and not an insult. At a team like Ferrari, that is a different matter.