Back in July, no journalist or fan could have predicted what has transpired during this current F1 silly season. We’ve all been left startled by a number of things that have happened. The grid has well and truly got shaken up. Only two (Mercedes and Haas) of the ten teams are likely to continue with the same driver pairing that they have this year.
A world champion is leaving the sport, very surprising moves by established stars to other squads and young drivers getting drives at big teams and throughout the grid.
It all began back in early August when Daniel Ricciardo stunned the F1 world when it was announced that he would be leaving Red Bull Racing to join Renault. Nobody saw the news coming. Before it got officially announced to the world, Christian Horner thought the Aussie was joking when Ricciardo told him the news by phone.
The Australian admitted to the media he wanted a fresh start. Will the big gamble pay off? We’ll find out in a few years' time.
Pierre Gasly got the nod from Red Bull to replace Ricciardo at the team next year after a series of impressive drives in his Toro Rosso this year. Just two years ago it seemed unlikely that the Frenchman would ever have a full-time drive in F1. Now, he’s heading to one of the top three teams in the sport. How quickly things can change...
Following Ricciardo’s surprise, a bigger one was to come. In mid-August, two-time Fernando Alonso sensationally told us he will exit Formula One at the end of this year. Don’t completely rule out a return for the Spaniard in the future, however.
While it was known for a while, we waited until September for official confirmation that Charles Leclerc would join Ferrari in place of Kimi Raikkonen – but at the same time as we read that news, the Finn, out of the blue, wrote on Instagram that he’ll rejoin Sauber. Of course, that is the team where it all started for him in 2001.
After the big news from three of the big guns of the sport, attention switched to the fantastic young talent that will be appearing on the grid next year. In addition to Leclerc and Gasly, we’ll see a number of other rapid youngsters racing in the pinnacle of motor racing in 2019.
At McLaren, rookie Lando Norris will be joined by Carlos Sainz and that promises to be an intriguing battle.
Antonio Giovinazzi (Sauber) and George Russell (Williams) are the other young, quick peddlers who will have full-time seats on the grid next year. Read more about the promoted young guns here.
The bonkers silly season continued at the Russian Grand Prix when Toro Rosso confirmed Daniil Kvyat is going to drive for them in what will be his THIRD spell at the Italian team next year.
At the moment, the biggest loser is Esteban Ocon as he seems set to miss out on a spot for 2019 and will have to accept the reserve role at Mercedes. Yet, he may win out in the long term if they decide to put him in the Silver Arrows machine in place of Bottas for 2020.
With four drives still available for next year, the maddest driver transfer market ever may provide more shocks before all the seats are filled.
Any close comparisons?
2019 will see a seismic shift on the grid that’s unlikely to have been seen previously throughout the long history for the sport. However, it doesn’t mean there haven’t been some big changes in the past.
Back in 2009 ahead of the 2010 season, there were a lot of them. Ferrari bought Kimi Raikkonen out of his contract a year early and they brought in Fernando Alonso to replace the Finn.
World Champion Jenson Button left the Brawn (taken over by Mercedes) squad and joined McLaren and in the process became Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate.
The biggest shock came from Michael Schumacher, however. The seven-time champion sensationally announced he would return to the sport in 2010 driving for Mercedes after initially retiring at the end of the 2006 season. Fellow German Nico Rosberg left Williams and teamed up with Schumi.
2010 also saw three new teams join the grid and in addition to that, the Senna name appeared at an F1 event for the first time since 1994 as Bruno Senna made his debut in the HRT at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Just three of the nine teams that took part in 2009 retained the same driver line-up for the following season. So, this is not totally uncommon.
Nonetheless, this current silly season has provided so many twists and turns. It’s probably been the most unexpected one ever and it’s also unlikely to be topped in the near future.