[F1 2017 NEWS] F1 2018: DRIVER MARKET

Formula 1 may be enjoying a classic season, with a white-hot battle for the world championship continuing this weekend in the heat and humidity of Singapore.

But the 2018 season is also shaping up, with the driver market in full swing ahead of the new year – and a few competitive seats still available.

At Mercedes, 3-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton is locked-in with the Brackley squad until the end of 2018, while Valtteri Bottas is expected to be retained – having proven himself with two wins, solid pace, and zero issues behind the scenes.

Ferrari and Red Bull Racing keep their respective line-ups, with potential for a seat to open at both teams from 2019.
At Force India, Esteban Ocon will stay, the Frenchman on a two-year deal with an option for a third, while Sergio Pérez could depart – despite the outfit his most competitive opportunity; the Mexican still shopping around. Should he leave, Pascal Wehrlein could replace him.

There’s some uncertainty at Williams, despite Lance Stroll amassing 24 points to Felipe Massa’s 31 – with Monza last weekend just the team’s second double points finish in 13 races.

Toro Rosso should retain Daniil Kvyat, but with Carlos Sainz set to join Renault – Red Bull protege Pierre Gasly is likely to replace him.

Haas has Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen locked-in.

Renault has Nico Hülkenberg for another season, with an option for 2019 – but with Sainz said to be joining, Jolyon Palmer now needs a fantastic end of year to secure a 2018 seat elsewhere. Robert Kubica’s comeback now looks less likely, especially given his seven years away from the sport.

McLaren should retain Fernando Alonso given its expected switch to Renault power for 2018, while Stoffel Vandoorne is confirmed.

Sauber is set to hold onto Marcus Ericsson – his sponsors tied with team owner Longbow Finance. Wehrlein is set to make way for Charles Leclerc, who’s a Ferrari protege and Formula 2 championship leader.

The next few months will prove decisive in firming up the final seats left for 2018, as the first with the new halo cockpit protection device.