F1 2019 – 2020 Silly Season

F1 2019 – 2020 Silly Season

Just two Formula 1 teams maintained the same driver line-ups for 2019. Will there be a similar amount of movement between this season and 2020? Or will we see a quieter silly season this year? Here’s all the latest news and rumours on the 2019-20 Formula 1 driver market!


AT A GLANCE…

Here are the confirmed drivers for the 2020 FIA Formula 1 season:

Mercedes Lewis Hamilton ????????
Ferrari Sebastian Vettel ????????
Red Bull Max Verstappen ????????
Renault Daniel Ricciardo ???????? 
Haas ????????  ???????? 
McLaren Carlos Sainz Lando Norris
Racing Point ????????  ???????? 
Alfa Romeo Kimi Raikkonen ???????? 
Toro Rosso ????????  ???????? 
Williams ???????? ????????

MERCEDES

2019 DRIVERS: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas

2020 DRIVERS: Lewis Hamilton, TBC

RUMOURED: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon, Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, George Russell

Lewis Hamilton: Lewis Hamilton will enter the final year of his current Mercedes contract in 2020. He’s expected to stay at the team for the 2020 season.

Valtteri Bottas: Valtteri Bottas certainly seems to have upped his game in 2019 – will it be enough for him to secure his place at the championship-winning team in 2020?

Esteban Ocon: After two impressive seasons at Force India, Esteban Ocon is on the sidelines for 2019, but it’s expected that he’ll make a comeback to F1 in 2020. His strong ties as part of the Mercedes junior programme and his place as their test and reserve driver see him as the favourite to join the team should a vacancy arise. In July 2019, it was claimed that Ocon would “100 per cent” be on the grid in 2020. 

Sebastian Vettel: In May, Toto Wolff hinted at a potential future seat swap between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. The pair have contracts with their current teams until the end of 2020.

Max Verstappen: Max Verstappen has a Red Bull contract for 2020, but it is understood that the contract includes a performance clause – if he is not in a particular place at a certain point of the championship, he will be free to leave the contract. If he were to leave, he would presumably only do so for a better car – and Mercedes would be the obvious choice.

George Russell: The Mercedes young driver has had a great rookie year so far with Williams. Despite the team being way off the pace, Russell has out-performed his team-mate consistently throughout the year. Could Mercedes promote the rising star to the top team if a vacancy arises?


FERRARI

2019 DRIVERS: Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc

2020 DRIVERS: Sebastian Vettel, TBC

RUMOURED: Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas

Sebastian Vettel: Sebastian Vettel has a contract with Ferrari for 2020. It seems unlikely he’ll be anywhere other than Ferrari next year. He’s recently denied rumours that he’ll retire at the end of the 2019 season. 

Charles Leclerc: Charles Leclerc was a member of the Ferrari Young Driver Academy for a long time before stepping up to the main team for 2019. It seems unlikely that he’ll leave or be ousted after just one season with the Scuderia. 

Lewis Hamilton: In May, Toto Wolff hinted at a potential future seat swap between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. The pair have contracts with their current teams until the end of 2020.

Fernando Alonso: When rumours of Sebastian Vettel’s retirement emerged in May, so too did wild speculation that Fernando Alonso would re-join the team in the German’s place.

Daniel Ricciardo: In July 2019, Dan Knutson claimed that Daniel Ricciardo could move to Ferrari in 2020 as a replacement for Sebastian Vettel.

Valtteri Bottas: The same article mentioned above also claimed that Valtteri Bottas is on Ferrari’s wishlist, should a seat become available for 2020.


RED BULL

2019 DRIVERS: Max Verstappen, Pierre Gasly

2020 DRIVERS: Max Verstappen, TBC

RUMOURED: Max Verstappen, Pierre Gasly, Nico Hulkenberg, Daniil Kvyat, Alexander Albon

Max Verstappen: Max Verstappen has a Red Bull contract for 2020. 

Pierre Gasly: Pierre Gasly joined Red Bull from Toro Rosso for the 2019 season. His 2019 season hasn’t been the most impressive – but is it too early to drop Gasly from the team?

Nico Hulkenberg: At the end of May, Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg was rumoured to be in line to replace Pierre Gasly at Red Bull. The claims have been denied by Helmut Marko, while Hulkenberg himsef has branded the story as “fake news”.

Daniil Kvyat: Could Daniil Kvyat be on his way back to the main Red Bull team in 2020? He’s impressed so far on his return to F1 with Toro Rosso. He previously raced for Red Bull during the 2015 season and for the first four races of 2016, before he switched places with Max Verstappen.

Alexander Albon: Alexander Albon joined Toro Rosso for 2019. As a Toro Rosso driver, he’s in a prime position to step up to the senior Red Bull team – though it may be too early in his career for a move to the top.


RENAULT

2019 DRIVERS: Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg

2020 DRIVERS: Daniel Ricciardo, TBC

RUMOURED: Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Ocon

Daniel Ricciardo: Daniel Ricciardo has a contract to race with Renault in 2020. 

Nico Hulkenberg: Renault may be the best place for Nico Hulkenberg to remain in 2020. The team’s long-term plan for a return to the top of the sport has been well documented, and with Hulkenberg being onboard since 2017, he’s likely to want to see the move through until the team achieve success. But will the team want to keep him for a fourth season? Cyril Abiteboul has hinted that Renault are considering other options. 

Esteban Ocon: If a seat becomes available at Renault, could Esteban Ocon be the man to fill it? A French driver at a French team would certainly be fitting. Ocon came close to joining Renault for the 2019 season, until Ricciardo signed for the team at the last minute.


HAAS

2019 DRIVERS: Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen

2020 DRIVERS: TBC, TBC

RUMOURED: Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen, Esteban Ocon

Romain Grosjean: For a second season in a row, Romain Grosjean has failed to impress in Haas machinery. His place at the team seems more under threat than that of his team-mate’s. 

Kevin Magnussen: Kevin Magnussen has raced with Haas since the start of the 2017 season. His place looks fairly safe for 2020, having scored the majority of the team’s points this year. Last year, Magnussen revealed his Haas contract runs through the 2020 season. 

Esteban Ocon: After the two Haas drivers failed to finish the British Grand Prix following a first lap incident, the team was rumoured to be looking at signing up Esteban Ocon to replace Romain Grosjean as soon as possible.


McLAREN

2019 DRIVERS: Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris

2020 DRIVERS: Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris

RUMOURED: Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso

Carlos Sainz: Carlos Sainz has a multi-year contract with McLaren. He was officially confirmed as a 2020 McLaren driver on 9th July, 2019.

Lando Norris: Lando Norris made his debut with McLaren at the start of the 2019 season. He’s impressed so far in his rookie year and has a multi-year contract with the team. He was officially confirmed as a 2020 McLaren driver on 9th July, 2019.

Fernando Alonso: Fernando Alonso retired from Formula 1 at the end of 2018, but could he back for 2020? He’s still associated with McLaren, so a return to racing with the team isn’t out of the question. 


RACING POINT

2019 DRIVERS: Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll

2020 DRIVERS: TBC, TBC

RUMOURED: Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll, Esteban Ocon, George Russell

Sergio Perez: Sergio Perez has out-performed his team-mate at most races so far this season. With a strong relationship with the Silverstone-based team for the past six seasons, will the Mexican sign for a seventh year in 2020?

Lance Stroll: Given the fact that his father owns the team, it’s unlikely Lance Stroll will be vacating his seat any time soon. 

Esteban Ocon: Could Esteban Ocon race once again for his former team having missed out on a seat for 2019?

George Russell: As a Mercedes young driver, a step up to Mercedes-powered Racing Point from Williams could be a good option.


ALFA ROMEO

2019 DRIVERS: Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi

2020 DRIVERS: Kimi Raikkonen, TBC

RUMOURED: Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Mick Schumacher, Marcus Ericsson

Kimi Raikkonen: Kimi Raikkonen has a contract to race at Alfa Romeo in 2020.

Antonio Giovinazzi: Will Alfa Romeo give Antonio Giovinazzi another season to develop in 2020? The Italian driver has performed well so far in 2019, picking up his first point in Austria and comparing favourably to his vastly experienced team-mate. 

Mick Schumacher: Mick Schumacher made his debut in the F2 series this year, having won F3 in 2018. Could the son of the seven-time World Champion, and Ferrari Young Driver Academy member, make his F1 debut with Alfa Romeo next season?

Marcus Ericsson: Having raced with the team from 2015 to 2018, Marcus Ericsson is still linked with Alfa Romeo. He drove with the team in a Pirelli tyre test in July and is currently in his maiden IndyCar series championship, in which he has finished on the podium. Could Alfa Romeo recall his services full time in 2020?


TORO ROSSO

2019 DRIVERS: Daniil Kvyat, Alexander Albon

2020 DRIVERS: TBC, TBC

RUMOURED: Daniil Kvyat, Alexander Albon, Pierre Gasly, Dan Ticktum, Patricio O’Ward, Nobuharu Matsushita

Daniil Kvyat: Back for a third stint at Toro Rosso in 2019, Daniil Kvyat has impressed on his return to Formula 1. It seems likely that he’ll remain at the team for 2020, unless his services are required by the senior Red Bull team. 

Alexander Albon: Like Kvyat, Alex Albon has put in strong performances during his rookie F1 season. It seems to early in the Thai driver’s career for a move up to a top team, so he seems likely to remain at Toro Rosso in 2020. 

Pierre Gasly: Will Pierre Gasly be dropped from Red Bull at the end of 2019? And if so, could he return to Toro Rosso? It seems too early for Gasly to be parachuted back into his old Toro Rosso seat, but the Red Bull junior driver program has a reputation for being unforgiving.

Dan Ticktum: Dan Ticktum looked set to be Red Bull’s next driver to enter F1, but he was dropped from the driver program in June 2019.

Patricio O’Ward: After a brief spell in the IndyCar series, Patricio O’Ward made his F2 debut in Austria with Red Bull’s backing and took Ticktum’s seat in Super Formula soon after. The 2018 IndyLights champion signed to the Red Bull driver program in May. O’Ward needs to earn superlicense points before Toro Rosso could sign him up.

Nobuharu Matsushita: Honda junior driver Nobuharu Matsushita is competing in Formula 2 once again in 2019. The Japanese driver was previously linked with the team when they first took Honda engines in 2018. Could Honda seek to place him at Toro Rosso in 2020, should a position become available?


WILLIAMS

2019 DRIVERS: Robert Kubica, George Russell

2020 DRIVERS: TBC, TBC

RUMOURED: Robert Kubica, George Russell, Nicholas Latifi, Esteban Ocon, Sergio Sette Camara

Robert Kubica: Robert Kubica’s future with Williams seemed to be being questioned before he started his first race with the team. Having being routinely out-performed by his team-mate throughout the season, Kubica commented in June that it is too early yet to speculate on his plans for 2020.

George Russell: Reigning F2 champion George Russell has consistently out-performed his team-mate in his rookie season. Will Russell stay with the team for 2020 – or will he eye a move further up the grid?

Nicholas Latifi: Nicholas Latifi is impressing in F2 in 2019 – could the Canadian join the Williams team for 2020?

Esteban Ocon: After missing out on a seat this year, will Esteban Ocon secure a place on the 2020 grid? The Mercedes- powered Williams team could be one of his options.

Sergio Sette Camara: A racer in Formula 2, Sergio Sette Camara has the backing of Brazilian oil company Petrobras, which could make him a desirable option for a 2020 seat.