A few more pieces of the Silly Season puzzle have fallen into place this week. Motorsport Week provides a quick update as to the current state of the 2019 Formula 1 driver line-ups.
Reigning World Champions Mercedes will head into next season with an unchanged pairing, having confirmed Lewis Hamilton on a new two-year deal and Valtteri Bottas on a one-plus-one contract.
Ferrari has Sebastian Vettel tied down through 2020 and he will be joined by protégé Charles Leclerc, who was given the nod to replace Kimi Raikkonen, and who is on a long-term contract with the manufacturer.
Red Bull, which will switch to Honda power, has Max Verstappen under contract until 2020 and he will be joined by current Toro Rosso racer Pierre Gasly, promoted in the wake of Daniel Ricciardo’s exit.
Ricciardo will instead take up a seat at Renault, having wanted a fresh start after a decade-long association with Red Bull, to join incumbent Nico Hulkenberg.
Haas confirmed on Friday that it will keep hold of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen for another season, meaning it is set to be the only non-Mercedes team to field an unchanged driver line-up.
McLaren will wave goodbye to Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne to welcome in Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris, the Spaniard joining from Renault and 18-year-old Norris stepping up from his role as reserve.
Force India has yet to confirm its pairing but Sergio Perez is to continue with the team he joined from McLaren in 2014, while Lance Stroll is poised to move across from Williams, following his father’s substantial investment in the Silverstone-based outfit.
Toro Rosso on Saturday confirmed that Daniil Kvyat will return for his third spell at the team, following his 2014 campaign and mid-2016 to late-2017 stint, after which he was dropped and took up a simulator role at Ferrari. The identity of his team-mate is less than certain, though Dan Ticktum’s recent comments – and his dip in form in F3 – is ostensibly good news for incumbent Brendon Hartley.
Sauber will welcome back Raikkonen – the Finn having raced for the team in 2001 – and he will be joined by current reserve Antonio Giovinazzi. Sauber has been keen to stress that Giovinazzi is not a replacement for Marcus Ericsson, but rather the Ferrari/Alfa Romeo-backed replacement for Leclerc, and that it is Raikkonen who is filling Ericsson’s shows. Semantics. Ericsson will stay as third driver and brand ambassador.
Sergey Sirotkin is expected to stay on at Williams while the identity of his team-mate is a question mark, with several drivers – including current Renault tester Artem Markelov – in the frame.
2019 F1 driver line-up:
Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton / Valtteri Bottas
Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel / Charles Leclerc
Red Bull: Max Verstappen / Pierre Gasly
Renault: Nico Hulkenberg / Daniel Ricciardo
Haas: Kevin Magnussen / Romain Grosjean
McLaren: Carlos Sainz Jr. / Lando Norris
Force India: TBC / TBC (Sergio Perez / Lance Stroll)
Toro Rosso: Daniil Kvyat / TBC
Sauber: Kimi Raikkonen / Antonio Giovinazzi
Williams: TBC / TBC