Two of the drivers who attended today's press conference will also say farewell to Formula 1, one other is still wondering where his future will be.
Marcuss Ericsson, currently driving for Alfa Romeo Sauber, will leave the F1 paddock as an official driver at the end of the season to start a new adventure in IndyCar: the Swede will continue to be part of the Sauber family as their third driver, so there's still a door open for him in the paddock.
"(If I'll come back) I think that’s what the future will tell. I go to America fully committed to doing a great job over there. I see myself as being there for quite some time. But then in the future you never know what will happen. I’m just super excited to go there. I met the team and it felt really, really good. I think IndyCar, from the outside, looks like a lot of fun, so I can’t wait to get started." Said the Swede, who leaves F1 after 5 seasons.
"It’s been amazing, I’ve really enjoyed it, but it’s also been tough. Most of the time I’ve been running in back-of-the-grid teams and cars and that’s always tough, especially when you’re used to growing up through the junior ranks and you always fight for wins and podiums and you always go in with that mindset to a race weekend, and then the last five years that’s never been realistic and that’s been the tough part of it. That’s why also I’m so excited about next year, that I can actually be back racing for wins again. I bring a lot of experience and a lot of good memories from these five years, for sure." The adventure with Alfa Romeo Sauber represented maybe one of the best of his career, with a car who gave him the possibility to fight for points in more than an occasion, and this gives Marcuss the feeling that his Sauber will deliver other good perfomances for his lasts GPs.
He is not the only one leaving: after two tough seasons with McLaren (one with Honda engines, this one with Renault's) Stoffel Vandoorne is looking forward to his journey in Formula E which will start soon after Adu Dhabi's race. A comeback can be possible for him too, but for now the Balgian is focusing on his forthcoming journey.
"I’m starting a new challenge, which I’m really looking forward to, with HWA in Formula E. I don’t really have a break this winter, so I’m going straight into that and that will also be… my mindset is to do the best job there. So whatever happens in the future, it’s difficult to tell at the moment. You know, the driver market this summer has been a little bit crazy and no one could have really expected what has happened. Things like that can happen in the future and who knows what is going to happen."
For sure the Belgian has a lot of experience thanks to the difficult times he shared with Fernando Alonso in McLaren.
"Definitely it’s not been the best two seasons. McLaren supported me a lot to make the step into Formula 1. But the two years I’ve had in Formula 1 have been good in terms of experience but I would have much preferred to fight higher up. The timing was right to get to Formula 1 and I think I was with the right team, the right support, but I think just the competitive we’ve had over those two years have not been great. It would have been nice to fight a bit higher up." A combination of factors gave him the possibility to earn two points in Mexico, which will maybe help him to finish his journey in F1 with a bit more of confidence.
If Ericsson and Vandoorne are sure about their next plans, so isn't Brendon Hartley: the Kiwi has improved a lot during his rookie season (despite he's 29).
"I’ve maybe hardened my approach, I’ve got stronger, I’ve learnt from mistakes, figured out, with the engineers what’s going to get the most out of the weekend for me, in terms of the car, the set-up. I think I’ve bought a lot of experience to the team and in the second half of the season I’ve definitely been stronger.
"I think sometimes people do forget it’s also a team sport, it’s not just an individual, it is very much a team sport and I’ve been a team player. I think now the focus is really on making sure we’re ahead of Sauber before the end of the season. That’s the main focus for Toro Rosso right now and I think we’ve got an exciting couple of races ahead." He continued.
Both him and his team mate Pierre Gasly will run the new Honda engine and the new aero package both in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
Kevin Magnussen is sure about his future and the new season that he will dispute with Haas, but the American team has hit a low point in Mexico as both cars didn't make it through Q1 for the first time this season. Despite that, Kevin knows that there are good bases for 2019.
Lance Stroll surely knows what his future will be, but there's no announcement yet and the Canadian claims he is still focused on his season with Williams despite a non upgraded car.
"We haven’t really developed the car at all since Australia, I don’t think we’ve really improved the car at all. It’s been tough to see some of our competitors early on, like Sauber, for example, who were neck and neck with us at the beginning, make big steps in the right direction, compared to us. It's been a survival year. But I’ve still developed as a driver, I’ve matured as a driver. The second year in Formula One, more seat time, more experience. I’ve absorbed a lot of information, even though it’s been a very challenging year compared to last year but that’s the nature of the sport. As a driver, you have to accept that some years are more challenging than others and that’s part of the game."
"It has been a pretty good year, I think. It has shown that we are making progress with the team, year by year, and I think our aim should be to keep that up in the next season. I think this year it looks like we’re probably going to finish fifth in the Constructors unless we get some very good weekends in the next two weekends. That leaves us at least one realistic target for next year, to take another step forward. I think this year we’ve had a very fast car. We haven’t always scored the points that we should have for different reasons but the good thing about that is that we can go into next season and know that we can do better, because the performance is there."Another big driver is leaving F1 and, even if he wasn't facing the press, there are always questions about him, a sign that proves how much Fernando Alonso is respected in the paddock and how much he will be missed on the grid in from 2019.
Vandoorne had the chance to be his team mate and learn from him, a two time world champion, one of the most respected drivers ever.
"The way he prepares a weekend – obviously Fernando’s one of the most experienced drivers on the grid. I think as a rookie it was very valuable for me to learn from that, especially the way he prepares his weekend, through the practice sessions, how he’s building up to the race on Sunday, how he’s trying to extract the most so there’s a definitely a lot I’ve learned over the past two years which I can carry forward."
Kevin Magnussen also expressed his respect for the spaniard, even if history tells us they don't like each other that much: "My respect for Fernando as a driver is very big. There’s no doubt he’s definitely one of the best drivers on the grid. Even though we’ve had some tough fights and a few arguments, there’s no damage to my respect for him as a driver. I think that’s it."