What’s next for F1’s driver market?

Date published: August 4 2018

What's next for F1's driver market?

On Friday Daniel Ricciardo sent shockwaves through Formula 1 when he announced he was joining Renault, and Stoffel Vandoorne’s career may hinge on what happens next.

Ricciardo opened up one of the most coveted seats on the Formula 1 grid earlier this week with Red Bull announcing that the Aussie would be leaving the team at the end of this season.

That despite days earlier the driver saying he will “definitely” have a new contract in place by the Belgian Grand Prix.

Well he does, it is just not with Red Bull.

Instead Ricciardo and Renault followed up Red Bull’s announcement by confirming that he’ll partner Nico Hulkenberg next season having signed a two-year deal with the Enstone team.

Red Bull are now hunting for his replacement.

While Carlos Sainz is the most obvious choice, the heir apparent to Ricciardo’s seat, various reports doing the rounds at the moment suggest he may not be the favourite.

Although he is under contract with Red Bull, who have an option on him for next season, Sainz’s stint with Renault this season has not been the most successful.

He has been outdone by Hulkenberg in both qualifying and races while his past relationship – not the best – with Verstappen may also count against him.

However, one driver who will be praying Red Bull put Sainz in the car is Vandoorne.

The McLaren driver is another who has been trounced by his team-mate, even worse that Sainz has been, and his race seat is on the line.

Sainz has been linked to Vandoorne’s place and is likely to make that move if Red Bull cast their eye elsewhere.

Enter Pierre Gasly.

The Frenchman has been one of the stars of this year’s championship, scoring 26 of Toro Rosso’s 28 points and just missing out on the podium in Bahrain where he finished P4.

The smart money is on Gasly, at least for now.

As for further down the grid, Vandoorne has been linked to Sauber if he loses the McLaren seat, should Ferrari opt to re-sign Kimi Raikkonen (again) then Charles Leclerc could head to Haas to partner Kevin Magnussen, Force India’s future is completely up in the air as just about every rich driver and his dad have been linked to a buy-out of the financially-strapped team and the same parameters are likely to apply to any Williams seat that becomes available although Mercedes are believed to be wanting to put George Russell in one of those.