F1 2019: Silly Season

With 12 rounds completed of this 2019 Formula One season, teams are now on their summer break, although this is now Silly Season where rumours fly around regarding who will be driving for who next season.

Here, we have made our own driver lineup predictions for all teams with several teams ringing the changes so without further ado, here is our predictions alongside a team by team explanation for each prediction.

Team/Drivers Driver One Driver Two
Mercedes Lewis Hamilton Valtteri Bottas
Ferrari Charles Leclerc Sebastian Vettel
Red Bull Max Verstappen Daniil Kvyat
McLaren Lando Norris Carlos Sainz
Toro Rosso Pierre Gasly Alexander Albon
Renault Daniel Ricciardo Jack Aitken
Alfa Romeo Kimi Raikkonen Nyck De Vries
Racing Point Lance Stroll Sergio Perez
Haas Kevin Magnussen Nico Hulkenberg
Williams George Russell Nicholas Latifi

 

Mercedes

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I definitely cannot see a change at the Silver Arrows because Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas work well together and there is a solid harmony within the team, which was strained during the Hamilton/Rosberg years.

Bottas however needs to up his game next season otherwise Esteban Ocon or George Russell surely will take his seat in 2021, because Mercedes are currently playing the long game with their youngsters.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen however is also linked with Bottas’ seat but Verstappen is probably more of a Hamilton replacement when he finally retires, with Bottas’ seat going to one of the Mercedes youngsters. 

 

Ferrari

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As difficult a campaign as this season has been for Ferrari, I can’t see any driver changes for next season with Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel staying where they’re.

I however can see next season being Vettel’s last if he doesn’t get a title challenging car or Leclerc outperforms him like he has done on various occasions this season, although the biggest factor will be the 2021 regulations which could prove to be the push that many of the experienced drivers need to move on after 2020.

As for Leclerc, I can’t see him leaving Ferrari for the foreseeable future but he needs to iron out those errors which has cost him a couple of perfect weekends, with Azerbaijan being a prime example.

 

Red Bull/Toro Rosso

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After a difficult season for Pierre Gasly, I can see Red Bull making one driver change but will probably be a straight swap with Daniil Kvyat re-joining the team as Gasly goes the other way to Toro Rosso.

I say this because this is the second time that Red Bull have promoted a driver from Toro Rosso after one season in F1, and it hasn’t worked out successfully. 

Verstappen however will pose a sterner test as teammate to Kvyat than what Ricciardo was in 2015 to the Russian, although these two definitely have the potential to be dangerous when playing the one-two strategy.

Gasly meanwhile can reset himself at Toro Rosso and rebuild his confidence alongside Albon who is growing in ability every race weekend as evidenced by maximising his performance at circuits which suits his car. 

Gasly/Albon at Toro Rosso however could be a fierce pairing if Verstappen decides to depart Red Bull after next season, opening up a promotion opportunity for the best performing driver to move up in 2021.

 

McLaren

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Having announced their driver lineup already by renewing Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz’s deals, McLaren are the best placed team on the grid because they don’t have media rumours hanging over them. 

Their decision in fact makes great sense because despite the occasional niggle, Norris and Sainz have been competitive so far this season and have put the team fourth in the Constructors, which is their best position since 2014. 

The aim now has to be to continue their step forward ahead of a wave of 2021 rule changes and with Norris/Sainz at the wheel, expect McLaren to continue their resurgence. 

 

Renault

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Daniel Ricciardo will definitely be at Renault next season given the terms of his contract but given Renault’s desire to fight the frontrunners and growing youth academy, it is time to start looking at their youth rather than retain Nico Hulkenberg who is out of contract at end of season. 

Jack Aitken therefore would be the ideal replacement given his strong form in F2 despite driving for Campos Racing, who normally struggle to produce strong drivers and the Brit is already one of Renault’s Test Drivers. 

Renault however will need to be patient and give Aitken time to get up to speed but come the opening European races, he should be challenging Ricciardo and confident of playing the no.2 role when required because the pressure won’t be there to produce consistent results until 2021 when the regs change. 

Add in Aitken’s brilliant personality off track then he is surely a perfect partner for Ricciardo, which can only be a positive from a PR perspective.

 

Alfa Romeo

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It’s impossible not to see Kimi Raikkonen staying at Alfa Romeo given his consistency but I can see a change in teammate coming next season with Nyck De Vries replacing Antonio Giovinazzi.

De Vries might seem like a left-field choice but having parted company with McLaren at start of this year, he has been a stronger driver in F2 with incredible consistency than in previous seasons and in fact his only one non point scoring finish is better than the last F2 champions, who both had three non point finishes by this stage of the season. 

That form does speak volumes about the Dutchman’s ability and in comparison to Giovinazzi, De Vries would probably push Raikkonen more in terms of qualifying and the races and bring in more points because the Italian has contributed just one of Alfa Romeo’s 32 points. 

Alfa Romeo however seems to becoming a F1 preparation ground for future Ferrari talent but with no obvious talent for Ferrari to promote and loan out next season, I do see De Vries as a better stop-gap option than Giovinazzi who hasn’t impressed at all this season. 

 

Racing Point

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This season has been a transitional year for Racing Point as they continue to firmly establish themselves after taking over Force India’s entry last summer, which suggests that they might be lenient and keep both Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez. 

I however do have my doubts about Stroll who simply hasn’t delivered enough in three seasons, and embarrassingly has been knocked out in Q1 in 14 of the last 15 races which is simply unacceptable if only saved by his decent race pace. 

2021 however is set to bring many changes so I can see next season being crucial for Stroll because he needs to step up and impress his dad, who needs to run this team like a business and get rid if Lance doesn’t deliver. 

Perez meanwhile will be entering his tenth season in F1 next year so I suspect that next season could be his last anyway if the new rule changes don’t excite him, which means that Racing Point need to start thinking long term for their driver lineups and develop their young driver programme. 

 

Haas

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A change is likely at Haas next season because the clashes between Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen can’t continue and with rumours of Grosjean signing up for Formula E, he is the most likeliest to depart. 

With only Pietro Fittipaldi on their reserve roster, Haas are probably going to go for another experienced driver and Nico Hulkenberg would be the ideal fit if Renault do let him go at end of this season. 

Hulkenberg and Magnussen therefore would be a great fit at Haas going forward but my biggest concern is that Hulkenberg doesn’t really develop his car throughout each season, which is a similar situation to Haas but there isn’t many other decent drivers around unless they went for Bottas or Fernando Alonso. 

Both drivers however would be pushing Haas’ budget whereas Hulkenberg would be a cheap reliable signing who does a consistent job and given that the 2021 regulations are currently unclear, he is the ideal stop-gap for next season.

 

Williams

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George Russell is definitely staying at Grove next season because I can’t see him moving elsewhere but he needs a change of teammate who will challenge him more so Nicholas Latifi is the ideal replacement for an under-performing Robert Kubica. 

Latifi is currently be fighting for the F2 title but he has already acted as Test Driver for three different F1 teams including Williams for this season, where he featured in FP1 at both Canada and France with two solid performances in which he was 0.6s off Russell then beat Kubica by 0.025s respectively. 

If that isn’t enough of a statement to indicate that Latifi would be the ideal replacement then Williams definitely do have a difficult decision on their hands, unless they do switch to Renault power units and take one of their youngsters on loan as part of the deal.

I however do think that Latifi is the best fit for Williams next season to partner and challenge Russell. 

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