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The Driver Merry-Go-Round...Desperate Times call for Desperate Measures

The summer break is coming to an end and the second half of the F1 Season is due to kickoff in Spa ( Belgium ). The time for contract renewals for the drivers is nigh and the Paddock is abuzz with theories and rumours of who goes where. 

Which teams are certain of what they want in 2020? Which aren't? Will any rookies get a shot in 2020? 

Lets have a quick peek at how the teams could stack up..


First Up, Teams will both drives sealed...


Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :

Sebastian Vettel and Charles LeClerc will continue their partnership in 2020. Its the right decision for Ferrari who are still playing catch-up with Mercedes in the Turbo Era. Hopefully the duo can help the team build a potent machine for 2020.


McLaren Racing F1 Team :

McLaren were the first to lock down their drivers for 2020. Carlos Sainz Jr and Lando Norris will continue with the Woking based Outfit. McLaren made the right call by not delaying this decision. Sainz is having one of his best years in F1 while Lando is slowly coming upto speed. Red Bull Racing which runs a driver program would be ruing the decision of letting Sainz go. Their options have dwindled after Ricciardo left for Renault and there was a possibility that Sainz could have been snatched up had McLaren not moved quickly; so credit to McLaren.



Teams with one spot available...


Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team :

Lewis Hamilton continues with Mercedes for 2020 ( a no-brainer ) while Valtteri Bottas is out of contract. Mercedes has Esteban Ocon, their Protegee from the Driver Program waiting in the wings. The pressure is increasing on Bottas with every mediocre drive. The Finn started the season on a great note but his performances dipped and his seat is now under serious threat from Ocon. 
Will Mercedes bite the bullet and replace him with Ocon for 2020?

Bottas has been with the team since the last 3 years and enjoyed a great relationship with Hamilton. His performances were important in helping the team win the Constructors' too. Maintaining consistency like Lewis over the course of the season is what he lacks and if he can address that in the second half, he should be able to retain his seat. Esteban Ocon on the other hand is young, talented and Championship material. The fact that he has beaten Verstappen in the lower series speaks volumes about his abilities. However I believe Ocon's appointment might unsettle Lewis in the team. The team might end up having another Nico - Lewis situation and even jeopardize their Constructors' title fight.The flip side to this is by not offering Ocon a seat they would be wasting a talent in his prime. Ocon was also a part of the Renault Driver Program and there is a seat available there for 2020. Citing Renault's performances this year, it will be difficult for them to be on the sharp end of the grid. Would Ocon want another season in the midfield melee or opt to sit out another year if Mercedes do decide to persist with Bottas? Its a very difficult decision for the Frechman and sitting out of the sport for 2 seasons would mean premature closure to his F1 career. I do hope the best for him but I don't really see Mercedes taking the drastic step of not renewing Bottas for 2020. It would be better for Ocon to pursue a seat at Renault.


Aston Martin Red Bull Racing F1 Team :

Red Bull is enjoying a resurgence with Max Verstappen. Pierre Gasly, the "underperforming" team-mate has already been replaced by rookie Alexander Albon from the Belgian GPMax has a contract till the end of 2021 but the other seat is up for grabs and Albon has a golden chance to prove his worth in the second half of the season. Gasly, whose been demoted to Toro Rosso will feel a little hard done but according to Red Bull, he was given enough time to come upto speed. In a closely contested Constructors' Championship with Ferrari, Red Bull needs both drivers to be right up there and Gasly failed to deliver. Kvyat would have been a better replacement than Albon but the Russian has a history with the team and that was the hindrance in not being selected with the A Team. Albon should do well and I see him land the seat for 2020. However Red Bull will be ruing the decision of letting Sainz Jr go a couple of years back. 


Renault Sport F1 Team :

Renault acquired the services of Daniel Ricciardo which was a masterstroke for 2019. The Australian continues for 2020 while Nico Hulkenberg is due for a contract renewal. Will the renewal happen? I have my reservations. He currently holds the controversial record of the longest number of races without recording a podium. He has made mistakes when opportunities for a strong finish came knocking ( Germany ). Esteban Ocon who was a part of their Driver Program is also waiting in the wings. If Ocon is to land the seat ( latest reports suggesting that ), Hulkenberg could try for a team like Haas, though he isn't best buddies with Kevin Magnussen. The chances of him switching to another series like WEC or Formula E seem more likely. If Ocon doesn't land a drive with either Mercedes or Renault, it will be a great loss for F1. Unfortunately there are less than 20 spots available every year..and some have to be turned away.


Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team :

Kimi Raikkonen's contract runs out at the end of 2020 and he is doing a brilliant job of keeping Alfa Romeo in the midfield mix this year. Antonio Giovinazzi is going through a baptism of fire. The Italian has scored a solitary point and will have to produce some solid drives in the second half to land a drive for 2020. Antonio is being mentored by Kimi and there have been moments when he has shown snippets of what he is made of. Hopefully the team persist with him and give him another chance to establish himself as a solid consistent racer. They do have a Development program but it would be a horrendous decision to promote another racer, the others simply aren't ready.


Rokit Williams Racing F1 Team :

George Russell is confirmed for 2020. Robert Kubica is out of contract. Williams are consistently off the pace vs the rest. The recent rounds have seen them make progress and Kubica even grabbed the unlikely point in Germany. However over the course of this season, its Russell who has had the measure of Kubica. Williams is a team that needs money and Kubica with his considerable financial backing is one of the favourites to retain his seat. The only threat would come in the form of another driver with a similar financial clout. Williams is in a rebuilding phase so they might not be too keen to sport youngsters on the grid. Time will tell who bags that seat.


Teams with both seats up for grabs...


Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team :

Toro Rosso has both seats up for grabs in 2020. Daniil Kvyat has been fantastic this year and retaining him should be a no-brainer. Gasly returns to Toro Rosso for the second half of 2019 and I believe he will be there in 2020 also. Red Bull's driver program is short on talent and I don't see any from their roster that deserves a F1 drive. Albon who has been promoted to the A team from Spa has a great chance of cementing himself as a solid number 2 to Max ( even become a race winner himself ). 


Sportpesa Racing Point F1 Team :

Racing Point hired the services of Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez for 2019. Lawrence Stroll, Lance's Father brought in a number of sponsorship deals ( some from Williams Racing ) and there is no doubt that he will ensure his son continues with the team for 2020. Sergio Perez, the faithful one has a great financial backing in Telmex and I don't see his seat being under threat either. Racing Point is in a rebuilding phase. The team will look to continue with the same pair to ensure their development isn't hampered both ontrack and off it.


Haas F1 Team :

Haas, the biggest underperformer of 2019 is going through a torrid time with its drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen. The duo locked horns ontrack in 2018 and had to be banned from racing each other to not jeopardize the team's chances. 2019 is a repeat. Romain's woes continue while Kevin Magnussen is as fiesty as ever. Haas might not renew Romain's contract for 2020 citing his poor performances over the past 2 years. Kevin should stay put but Haas has to look for a replacement for Romain and he mustn't be a rookie. Guenther Steiner, the team principal has made this clear in one of his recent interviews ( They do have Louis Deletraz & Pietro Fitipaldi waiting in the wings ) The only candidate that comes to mind then is Nico Hulkenberg, should he lose his seat at RenaultHowever its no secret that Magnussen and Hulkenberg aren't the best of mates; so it might be a case of "out of the frying pan into the fire". Haas have their hands full.


These are my predictions ( my views based on my assessment ) taking into consideration the information collected in the last few weeks. I might be completely wrong when the lineups are confirmed officially by the teams. 
Hulkenberg, Bottas, Grosjean and Gasly have the second half to prove their worth to their current employers or give better auditions to prospective drives..The clock is ticking and Desperate Times call for Desperate Measures...

The Driver Merry-Go-Round...As Unpredictable as it can get

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Drivers, one of the most important assets for a team to attain success in F1. A team can have state of the art facilities, great financial resources, a very talented bunch of engineers and mechanics who can build a race winning and probably a championship winning car; but all this comes to naught if the man behind the wheel cannot bring home the desired results. Sometimes a car is only as good as its driver and we have seen instances in the past when good drivers drove mediocre cars and produced decent results.


This year, the Driver Markets Scenario can be termed the silliest of them all. There are various theories circulating in the paddock and barring 2 teams, each team has at least one seat on offer for the 2019 season. 

I shall make a conscious attempt of exploring the possibilities of driver lineups for 2019 based on all the information that I could glean off team insiders, reporters and friends from the F1 paddock, but first those who have locked down their drives for 2019.


Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team :

Mercedes is in a fierce contest with Ferrari for supremacy this year. Their focus is solely on retaining both the Drivers' and Constructors' Titles; so its no surprise that they announced their driver lineup with no changes fairly early in the season. Drama due to media speculations can become a big distraction for a team in a highly stressful environment so kudos to them for steering clear. Valtteri Bottas will partner Lewis Hamilton for 2019 with an option to extend for another year for the Finn.


Renault Sport F1 Team :

Nico Hulkenberg is on a long term contract with Renault but the team from Oxfordshire acquired one of the hottest properties of 2019 - Daniel Ricciardo! His acquisition left the entire F1 Community in shock and awe. What triggered this decision? Will it prove to be a masterstroke or a debacle? Lets try to answer these questions.

What triggered this decision?

Daniel Ricciardo is a successful product of the Red Bull Driver Program and enjoyed a fair amount of success with the A team since 2014. However he is yet to win a Championship with them and with the arrival of a much younger Max Verstappen ( almost all believe he will be a World Champion eventually ) maintaining parity is becoming a challenge. The Biggest Factor that has triggered this decision though is that Red Bull switches to Honda power for 2019. Honda's return to F1 is a fiasco. The situation hasn't changed much in 2018 and Toro Rosso has suffered their fair share of retirements. Will Red Bull be a force to reckon with in 2019? Aerodynamically yes, in power hungry circuits, an emphatic no. I would be surprised if they even manage to be on the podium regularly. Mercedes shut the door and Ferrari refused to offer Daniel a drive. Only one Works Team remained. A team with the resources to return to the top end of the grid, win races and even challenge for Championships - Renault F1. 


Will it prove to be a masterstroke or a debacle?

Red Bull are 3rd in the Constructors' at the summer break, 141 points ahead of Renault. Renault is yet to score a podium since their return to being a full works team while Red Bull notched up 3 victories this year. Statistically its a howler of a decision; for many it is like going from a front running team to a mid table team. However 2019 and 2020 will give us a very different story.

Let us look at 2 recent examples of such decisions : Lewis Hamilton's switch to Mercedes in 2013 and Fernando Alonso's switch to McLaren Honda in 2015. 

Mercedes were nowhere near the front in 2012 or 2013. McLaren was one of the cars that could challenge the dominance of Red Bull but come 2014, the advent of the 1.6 V6 Turbo era and the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team were untouchable. They have won 4 titles on the trot while McLaren have slipped back into oblivion. Lewis' decision to switch at the end of 2012 was viewed as a disaster by some, the results thereafter suggest a totally different story.

Alonso tried to win a title at Ferrari for 5 years. It was not to be. He chose to return to McLaren in 2015 with the hope of returning to the top step of the podium and rolling back the years to the golden era of Senna and Prost ( who ran Honda Powered engines ). The result is a disaster. Honda struggled to find their feet and the alliance was terminated at the end of 2017. Fernando Alonso has not been on the podium for 4 years. The biggest difference between the 2 decisions is that Mercedes was a full works team ( chassis + powertrain ) while McLaren are only chassis designers. A good chassis working in tandem with a reliable and quick powertrain can win you races, titles. Hence in the case of Lewis, it was a masterstroke and in the case of Alonso, a debacle.

Renault build both and are expanding their personnel and R&D facilities with every passing week. They are not there yet but have taken giant steps in that direction. Their results in comparison to last year's speak volumes of the progress made. 2019 will see him as a regular on the podium. A win? Probably not...but come 2020, Ricciardo will be in a Championship winning car ( in my opinion ).



Now onto the teams that have a seat each on offer!


Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :

Sebastian Vettel stays with the Prancing Horse for 2019 and that is no surprise. Its an excellent alliance and they should lift the title this year...a long wait but worth it. Kimi Raikkonen's seat, like every year is the hot topic of discussion. Rumours that Charles Leclerc will replace Kimi Raikkonen in-season gained a lot of traction. Some even claimed that Kimi would return to Sauber and finish his career where he started it. This really is the most retarded theory out there. Another publication claimed that Kimi would return to McLaren to replace the outgoing Alonso ( Another fictitious theory ).  Then the Iceman upped his game and silenced all critics. He finished on the podium 5 times in a row, the only one to do so in both the Triple and the Double Header. Suddenly news that he was being offered another contract extension started doing the rounds. Nothing is official yet and the 2nd seat at Ferrari is still up for grabs.

Its no secret that Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari Academy Driver is destined to occupy this seat. When rather than whether is the question. He has been a revelation in Sauber, comprehensively beating his more experienced team-mate Marcus Ericsson. Is he ready to step into the big league? I don't think so. He has the talent but rushing him into a top seat with only a one year experience in F1 might turn out to be a disaster. It would be better for Leclerc to go to the stronger customer team Haas F1 for 2019 and then join the A Team in 2020. Kimi is having his strongest year in Ferrari since his return to Maranello in 2014 and is the perfect team-mate to Vettel. They share a no-nonsense, friendly and transparent relationship; both push each other to their limits and when needed, Kimi is a true team player. His experience in the sport cannot be matched. He definitely has another year of racing in him and as most experts agree, his recent performances and his current position ( 3rd ) in the Drivers' Championship has earned him the right to be a Red for another year. 

Ferrari, like Mercedes must lock down their driver lineups soon to eliminate unnecessary media attention and the drama that comes with it. They are in the Driver's seat so their focus should be on winning the title rather than addressing issues for 2019.

I expect Scuderia Ferrari to announce a contract extension for Kimi Raikkonen in Belgium. GO ICEMAN!!



Red Bull Racing F1 Team :

Red Bull will lose a star in Daniel Ricciardo for 2019. Christian Horner, Red Bull Team Principal, thought Ricciardo was joking when the latter expressed his desire to leave the team at the end of the season. Well a seat is vacant and Red Bull are spoilt for choice for 2019. Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz Jr, Fernando Alonso are all vying for this seat. ( Brendan Hartley, former WEC Champion won't make the cut ( below par debut in F1 ) and hence not in the reckoning ) 

Carlos Sainz Jr. was loaned to Renault for 2018 and considering the fact that he started his F1 career with Max Verstappen, he would be the logical choice to jump into the seat next year. Astonishingly Red Bull are not in a hurry and will bide their time to make their choice. It leaves Sainz in a very unfortunate position. If he were to not be the chosen one, he could find himself out of the sport. McLaren seem one destination but that would mean going backwards on the grid. No disrespect to McLaren but they are a shadow of their former self. Sainz is a talented driver and deserves to be on the sharp end of the grid. Sainz has a sponsor in Estrella Galacia and that can be a trump card.

Pierre Gasly another Red Bull Protegee is having a strong year in F1. He is already working with Honda at Toro Rosso so that is a bonus. His relative inexperience is a negative and having 2 young drivers can be a recipe for disaster.

Fernando Alonso, the opportunist, a man who can move mountains in order to have a winning car under him. He is believer to be one of the contenders for the seat but will he team up with Honda again? Considering his rants in races in years that Honda raced with McLaren, it doesn't seem that Alonso and Honda have an amicable relationship. Red Bull is a team that practices parity between team-mates but should Alonso join, will this practice continue? Politics come into play too and the atmosphere within the team might not stay healthy. In my opinion, Alonso will stay put to head to WEC next year. 

I really wish that Sainz Jr. gets the Red Bull drive in 2019 but Gasly seems the favourite according to experts. It might turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Sainz Jr. if he opts to go Renault Powered McLaren and it ends up beating a Honda Powered Red Bull!

Time will tell...



Now onto those who have both seats up for grabs!


Sahara Force India F1 :

Force India F1 isn't Force India anymore but will have a new name after a consortium headed by Mr. Lawrence Stroll got them out of administration today. Both seats are available for 2019 but after Lawrence Stroll, Lance Stroll's father acquired the team, the Canadian will ply his trade there. ( Official announcement pending ). Esteban Ocon, Mercedes backed and part of their informal program should stay. Any speculation linking him with Renault is now over and Mercedes will ensure he stays at their strongest customer team. This means Sergio Perez will be without a drive. Perez too has a sizeable sponsor in Telmex backing him and as per his recent admission, his future in F1 lies elsewhere. McLaren is the best option, Haas an alternate. Williams also might not be a bad choice if they are able to improve their performances.  

Force India will retain Ocon and Lance Stroll will be his team-mate for 2019 according to me.


Haas F1 Team :

Haas F1, like Red Bull is spoilt for choice for 2019. Magnussen is having a great year and Grosjean the complete opposite. The general consensus is that Grosjean is set to lose his drive. Charles Leclerc is the ideal replacement. Ferrari would want him there to assess him in a faster car and if he can better his performances, Haas F1 will cherish this decision. Magnussen, also without a contract should end up renewing with Haas since the team will want an existing driver to help with the development for next year. Perez has an outside chance but its a very slim one. 

Haas will field Magnussen and Leclerc in 2019.


McLaren F1 Team :

McLaren's status in F1 is now reduced to a mid-field runner. Its embarrassing to see a team with such a decorated past to be struggling with mercurial performances week in week out. The patience of their Spanish Matador Fernando Alonso is also running low. He is exploring the possibility of joining WEC next year ( someone close to the team confirmed the same ). Many predict a career in Indy but Honda might be the roadblock in that endeavour. It would be a major setback for the team if he were to leave F1. Stoffel Vandoorne has been a disappointment this year and his lacklustre performances leave his drive in jeopardy. He might be retained if Alonso leaves. The options available are many for 2019 and the team must bide their time before zeroing in on their lineup. Landon Norris, a part of their driver program is performing well in Formula 2 but it might be an year too early to rope him in into F1. The team must do everything in its capacity to hold onto Fernando Alonso. Carlos Sainz Jr is one of the frontrunners for a race seat, a move that will be effected if he is left high and dry by Red Bull, albeit a second time. Sainz Jr will be delighted to partner his hero in 2019. He also brings a sizeable sponsorship in Estrella Galacia as mentioned earlier. However if Sainz does go to Red Bull, then Sergio Perez is a good option. Financially, he has an equally strong backing. He drove for the team in 2013 but was ousted in a not-so-amicable way ( much like Fernando at the end of 2007 ). 

Factoring in the current situation, its safe to say that McLaren will end up having an all Spanish lineup with Alonso and Sainz Jr in 2019.


Alfa-Romeo Sauber F1 Team :

Sauber F1 are extremely pleased with the performances of Leclerc this year. Marcus Ericsson like his previous year is nowhere in terms of performances. Astonishingly he retained his seat in 2018 and he might in 2019 as well! Leclerc is bound for Haas according to me and Antonio Giovinazzi Ferrari's Reserve Driver ) is a regular feature in tests and practice sessions for the team this year. I believe he will make a return to the grid in 2019. I don't see Sauber going outside the Scuderia Ferari Academy umbrella to hire a F1 Pilot. Antonio Fuoco ( from Charouz Racing Team in F2 ) will have to wait another year, maybe he will be roped in as a reserve driver this year.

Marcus Ericsson and Antonio Giovinazzi is the lineup for Sauber according to me.


Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team :

Toro Rosso is in a serious dilemma. Gasly ( according to many ) is set for the Red Bull Racing seat in 2019. Brendan Hartley was slated to be replaced but the Red Bull Driver Program has no one ready for the big jump into F1. The man closest to the seat is Dan Ticktum who is plying his trade in Formula 3. The biggest hurdle will be that he will not gather enough superlicense points ( even if he wins the F3 championship ) to warrant a drive next year. However the FIA reviews its points criteria every year and maybe they might have modifications made that will enable him to enter F1. Hartley, if Gasly was to leave might just be retained for another year ( I am being a bit biased towards him here ). He is a great guy and a genuinely quick driver but for some reason is not able to find his feet in F1. If Ticktum can't make the cut, Toro Rosso will be compelled to see someone outside their program and Perez, Vandoorne will be options. Perez should win this bout with the experience and the money he brings. 

Toro Rosso will have Perez and Hartley ( if Ticktum can't make the cut ) in 2019. ( Bold prediction ).


Williams Martini Racing F1 Team :

Williams is last in the Championship and with the latest news of Lawrence Stroll buying out Force India, they have lost a sizeable amount of finances for 2019. Sergei Sirotkin, the debutant this year will retain his drive in all probability ( taking into account the money he brings into the team ). George Russell, the F2 Championship leader and Mercedes Protege  should get a drive with Williams. He is set to win the F2 Championship this year and Williams will be a suitable fit to assess his abilities in the big league. 

Sirotkin and Russell look certain for Williams next year.


So to sum it all up :

Mercedes : Hamilton & Bottas ( Confirmed )

Renault F1 : Ricciardo & Hulkenberg ( Confirmed )


Scuderia Ferrari F1 : Vettel ( Confirmed ) & Raikkonen ( Predicted )

Red Bull Racing : Verstappen ( Confirmed ) & Gasly ( Predicted )


Force India : Stroll & Ocon ( Predicted )

Haas F1 : Magnussen & Leclerc ( Predicted )

McLaren : Alonso & Sainz Jr ( Predicted ).   If Alonso leaves, Vandoorne will be retained.

Sauber F1 : Ericsson & Giovinazzi ( Predicted )

Toro Rosso F1 : Hartley & Perez ( Predicted )   

Frankly, its a bold prediction and I might be well off the mark so apologies in advance! 

Williams F1 : Sirotkin & Russell ( Predicted )


So Grosjean and Vandoorne ( if Alonso stays and that is a BIG IF ) might not feature in 2019. I would be gutted if Vandoorne doesn't make the cut. He still has time to turn it around and I am hoping that I am proven wrong in my prediction!


These are my predictions ( my views based on my assessment ) taking into consideration the information collected in the last few weeks. I might be completely wrong when the lineups are confirmed officially by the teams. This year it really is as unpredictable as it can get.

The Driver Merry-Go-Round...Continuity Is Key

The European leg of the 2017 F1 Season has come to an end and the "Fly-Aways" remain.

The new owners of F1 have ensured that the sport is in the news for all the right reasons. Its also that time of the year when teams are locking down driver contracts or are in the final stages of talks with prospective pilots for next year.


Driver Markets is one topic that the media can never get enough of. Many claims turn out to be true, many don't.


Lets take a quick look into who is confirmed for 2018 and who isn't.



Scuderia Ferrari :

Scuderia Ferrari confirmed their lineup on the Belgian GP weekend with Sebastian Vettel signing a 3 year deal up until 2020 and Kimi Raikkonen till the end of 2018. Raikkonen's extension had a mixed reception but as a fan of Raikkonen its great news! I believe its the right decision by Ferrari to persist with the duo ( totally unbiased analysis here ). Raikkonen complements Vettel very well and the atmosphere within the team is extremely healthy. Kimi with his experience provides invaluable feedback to the team and Ferrari still have some catching up to do with Mercedes. Sebastian Vettel knows Ferrari is his best chance to get his 5th world title. Vettel is loved in Maranello and its great to see him continue in the red.

Experience over youth is the way forward for 2018 for Ferrari


Mercedes AMG F1 Team :

Lewis Hamilton continues his contract until the end of 2018. Staying put is a no-brainer for him. Valtteri Bottas joined the team for 1 year and the team made its intentions clear to continue the partnership into 2018. Bottas is doing an exceptional job in his first year. The team-mate relationship is as good as that in Ferrari. Bottas and Lewis are doing a fine job of keeping Ferrari at bay and the team have one hand on the Constructors' Trophy! Bottas is no slouch either and will be a more potent force in 2018. Its imperative that he must stay inspite of having protegees waiting to move up into the A-Team.


Red Bull Racing F1 Team :

The Honey Badger Daniel Ricciardo & The Flying Dutchman Max Verstappen continue their partnership for 2018. The chances of a seat opening in the other 2 front runners seemed a difficult prospect so it is best for the duo to stay put.


Sahara Force India F1 Team :

Force India also announced their intention to persist with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon for 2018. It hasn't been smooth sailing with the team-mates coming together and causing the team grief on a few occasions. They are banned form racing each other in 2017. However their talent cannot be belittled. Force India is a force to reckon with and it needs motivated and hungry individuals to pounce on any opportunity they may get from lapses by the front runners. There are few who can do what Perez and Ocon are capable of.


McLaren Honda F1 Team :

The Situation at McLaren is very tense. Their hopes of returning to glory with Honda have fallen flat. Fernando Alonso is very vocal about Honda's failures to deliver a powerful reliable engine, Stoffel Vandoorne feels no different. McLaren, the 2nd most successful team in F1 are now at a crossroads. Fernando Alonso will leave if McLaren choose to continue with Honda in 2018. Losing a two time World Champion to another team will be disastrous for McLaren and there is no driver that can replace a man with Fernando's experience. Renault power units is the only other option for them and the possibility of a switch has gained traction in the past fortnight. McLaren also need to consider the cost of divorce with Honda. Only McLaren can afford the pay demands of Alonso. Will they switch to Renault? I definitely think so. A must to maintain their respect and prestige in F1 besides holding onto the best driver on the grid ( personal opinion ). Stoffel Vandoorne is confirmed for 2018.


Williams Martini Racing F1 Team :

Williams have a talented prospect in Stroll who is finding his feet and beginning to impress people. Felipe Massa came in to fill the void left by Bottas at the end of 2016. Williams made it clear that they are in no hurry to discuss options for 2018 up until the end of the season. Paul di Resta is the reserve driver but his chances of landing a seat seem bleak. Stroll should be able to do enough to warrant a contract extension. Felipe's decision to stay or retire is still a debatable one. Williams hiring Alonso was also doing rounds for some time. Williams need someone experienced enough and fast to aid the development of the 2018 Contender. They must convince Felipe to stay another year before they can actually scout talent or hire a capable replacement for him in 2019. Pascal Wehrlein is out of contract and Mercedes would try to get him a seat at Williams should Sauber not opt to continue with him. Wehrlein is one driver Williams must consider.


Haas F1 Team  :

Haas confirmed Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean quite early in the season and they rightly shifted their focus to developing a stronger and a faster car.


Renault Sport F1 Team :

Nico Hulkenberg is confirmed for 2018 and as per the reports coming in in the past couple of days, Renault have acquired the services of the talented Carlos Sainz Jr. This means that Jolyon Palmer's career in F1 might be coming to a sad end. Hulkenberg is fast and consistent and Renault is improving its car at a brisk rate. They will definitely be moving up the grid in 2018. Carlos Sainz Jr. has been stuck for quite sometime in Toro Rosso, Red Bull's B Team and his chances of moving up to the main team has dwindled drastically. He will definitely benefit from joining a Work's Team. Carlos Sainz's impending move to Renault will be just reward for his performances - but it could also hand a well-earned F1 chance to another deserving racer.

Renault will benefit from having 2 consistent strong drivers. Jolyon Palmer, as for him, its best to seek other pastures.


Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team :

Toro Rosso are yet to announce their 2018 line-up. Daniil Kvyat is out of contract but with Carlos Sainz Jr. departure to Renault, he should bag an extension. Pierre Gasly, Red Bull Racing's Reserve Driver is slated to take up the 2nd seat for 2018 and the Frenchman has proven his potential in test sessions earlier. If Kvyat does get a contract extension, its imperative that he outperforms Gasly to ensure a strong case for promotion in 2019, should any of the current Red Bull Drivers opt to switch to another front runner.


Sauber F1 Team :

Sauber has both seats available for 2018. Ferrari are intending to invest in Sauber and re-brand it under the umbrella of Alfa-Romeo. Should the move come to fruition the team could become Ferrari's B Team and that could open up places for Antonio Giovinazzi and the talented Charles Le Clerc in F1. Marcus Ericsson would also have an opportunity of continuing there ( performances in second half matter ). Its improbable that Ferrari would allow a Mercedes Protegee in Wehrlein to continue in the team. Sauber still has the freedom to choose what they think is the way forward for them but for how long?


The championship resumes in Singapore this weekend and there will be a lot more clarity with teams and drivers in the coming weeks.

The general consensus for most has been to continue with the current pairing of drivers. Continuity is key for 2018..