[F1 2017 NEWS] FERRARI: 2019 DRIVER LINE-UP

It’s the burning question on the lips of the Tifosi … what will Scuderia Ferrari choose to do with its driver line-up for 2019.

One seat is settled … Sebastian Vettel is locked in to 2020, the four-time world champion signing a new three-year deal in August.

Kimi Raikkonen will continue to partner him in 2018, the Finn signing a one-year deal of his own. But is Raikkonen - the last man to win the world championship for Ferrari - going to be there in 2019?

The Iceman’s presence brings harmony to the team … something former Ferrari driver Alain Prost sees as key to keeping Vettel happy.

SOUNDBITE (French) ALAIN PROST, 4-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“He has the perfect teammate. It's not a real N.1 and a real N.2. He's still a team leader and Raikkonen is slightly behind him. It's the perfect situation.”

But is it the perfect situation for Ferrari?

While Vettel fought valiantly for the Drivers’ title, Mercedes raced ahead in the Constructors’ standings through the race-winning efforts of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

The numbers tell the tale. Raikkonen is 99 points behind Vettel after the Mexican Grand Prix, and has rarely been right behind his teammate at the chequered flag in 2017.

But if not Raikkonen, who does Ferrari sign for 2019?

Daniel Ricciardo is the name most are putting forward. He is out of contract with Red Bull at the end of next year, and with the team looking like it’s tying its future to Max Verstappen, the Australian could be well served jumping ship.

Ricciardo has a strong record against Vettel in their one season together at Red Bull in 2014. But it’s a decision that would leave the team potentially managing two world title contenders under the same roof.

Ferrari does have another promising option, and he’s already on the books.

19-year-old Charles Leclerc has won the GP3 and Formula 2 titles in successive seasons, and is the most promising member of the Ferrari Driver Academy.

He is expected to be placed at Sauber for the 2018 season. Should his promise be realised in that rookie year, a promotion to the Scuderia for 2019 is not impossible.

The oldest team in Formula 1 has no shortage of options … now all Ferrari has to do is choose the right one.