After Hulkenberg and Kubica said their goodbyes to the Circus, young blood is going to step in as a replace: we are talking about Renault's Esteban Ocon, who has already competed in two and a half F1 seasons, and Williams' rookie Nicholas Latifi, fresh Formula 2 vice-champion.
If one eye has therefore to be kept on the immediate future of those two youngsters, the second one has better not to be myopic: 16 out of the 20 drivers in the 2020’s line-up have their contract’s expiration set for the end of the next season.
Anyone but Charles Leclerc, Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez knows where he will be in 2021, the year of the massive regulation change. For this very reason, teams will be looking forward to keep their current line-ups, aiming for stability in a season crucial for car development. At the same time though, vacant names such as Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel may shake the Circus from its bottom. It’s difficult to say ‘no’ when those drivers stand on your doorstep.
Furthermore George Russell will be knocking as the Mercedes’ door as well, possibly with a Power Point presentation, to convince Toto Wolff of him deserving the seat more than Valtteri Bottas.
Civil wars are expected also inside the Red Bull family: Alexander Albon, Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat will do their best in order to keep (or re-gain) a place in the box next to Verstappen’s. They will also have to consider the threat coming from Junior driver Juri Vips.
It may also be Lance Stroll’s final year in the paddock: rumors want his dad Laurence –owner of the Racing Point Team- to have given his son one final chance to prove his potential.
Kimi Raikkonen may retire as well at the end of next year, leaving the door open for a new rookie. Most likely one among Callum Ilott, Mick Schumacher, Marcus Armstrong and Robert Shwartzman, that will be fighting eachother in Formula 2 in 2020, also depending on if they’ll get a superlicence next year.
To have a bird-eye view on this choatic situation, we will leave a complete grid contract’s deadline list below, for what could go down as one of the most exciting driver market to memory.
MERCEDES: Lewis Hamilton (2020); Valtteri Bottas (2020)
FERRARI: Sebastian Vettel (2020); Charles Leclerc (unknown, long term)
RED BULL: Max Verstappen (2020); Alexander Albon (2020)
MCLAREN: Carlos Sainz (2020); Lando Norris (2020)
RENAULT: Daniel Ricciardo (2020); Esteban Ocon (2021)
ALFA ROMEO: Kimi Raikkonen (2020); Antonio Giovinazzi (2020)
RACING POINT: Sergio Perez (2022); Lance Stroll (unknown)
TORO ROSSO: Pierre Gasly (2020); Daniil Kvyat (2020)
HAAS: Kevin Magnussen (2020); Romain Grosjean (2020)
WILLIAMS: George Russell (2020); Nicholas Latifi (2020)