Drivers' market in turmoil: from emerging veterans to unexperienced pillars
Ferrari and Red Bull share and confirm the trend of investing in youngsters, inevitably pulling an experienced midfielder into the spotlight of this year's drivers' market.
Here comes the fun part. Rumours concerning the drivers’ market are jumping from mouth to mouth inside the paddock. By the looks of it, the 2019 is not going to provide us with any shockers but there will be a number of interesting bits nonetheless.
Lewis Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes expires in 2020, whereas Valtteri Bottas is looking to extend his deal on a two-year spell for the first time since he joined the top team. The Finn seems to be in a very favorable position to bring home a multi-year deal, following his strong performances so far in 2019. The only element clouded in uncertainty appears to be Esteban Ocon, whose path to F1 would be inevitably put on hold. However, there is a remote chance of placing the Frenchman in a team for next year. Since Perez’s contractual situation has not been cleared out yet, there might be a free spot at Racing Point. Toto Wolff appears to be first in line to get his hands on that spot, which could be earned by either Ocon or Russell. At the moment this hypothesis depends on many factors, with the future of Perez on top of them.
As for Ferrari, neither of the drivers will have to go through a contract revision in 2019. Sebastian Vettel extended his deal (for three more years) back in 2017, securing his race seat until 2020. Charles Leclerc’s long-term commitment with Ferrari automatically pulls him out of the F1 market.
Same way, Pierre Gasly embodies Red Bull’s future in full effect. Helmut Marko was adamant that the Anglo-Austrian outift has invested in the Frenchman for the long term. Therefore, all the rumours concerning a potential approach to Nico Hulkenberg have been dismissed for now. The German driver is a Formula 1 veteran who, owing to missed opportunities and unfortunate dynamics, never had the chance to translate his talent into significant achievements. The current situation within the drivers’ market sees him as a potential outsider, although Red Bull’s Helmut Marko denied about the possibility of negotiating with him. He could eventually stay at Renault, whose resources have been solely focussed on 2021 onwards since the French manufacturer came back. Moreover, Hulkenberg may well evaluate further options, as the drivers’ market reaches its busiest stage.
Most of the drivers who have not secured a seat yet will be urged to prove themselves and deliver strongly until on-track action snoozes afte the Hungarian GP. A great example is Romain Grosjean, whose deal with Haas relies on his performance.
Any newcomers at the horizon? Not for now. Mick Schumacher has been struggling to make a name for himself in F2 since his debut, which would eventually convince Alfa Romeo and the FDA to freeze him for a year and keep Giovinazzi, who has shown modest signs of growth and improvement recently.
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