Formula One in 2019 will look a lot different compared to 2018 with only Mercedes and Haas F1 retaining both of their drivers. This post looks at the drivers who weren’t able to secure a drive in the sport for the upcoming F1 season.
Vandoorne is competing in Formula E with HWA Racelab who are backed by Mercedes. The Belgian who won the GP2 Championship in 2015, made his F1 debut in 2016 with McLaren and then was given a full-time race seat in 2017. With the switch to Renault engines, many thought McLaren would return to fight at the top. Vandoorne has finished 4 times inside the top 9 with the highest finish of 8th.
Vandoorne failed to out-qualify team-mate Fernando Alonso times last year. The Belgian was axed in favour of Lando Norris and with Carlos Sainz Jr being signed as well, Vandoorne had to start looking elsewhere. Potential seats at Toro Rosso and Sauber quickly closed with Mercedes F1 boss, Toto Wolff, calling the Belgian seeing if he would be interested in a seat race with the Mercedes-affiliated HWA team. In Vandoorne’s favour at his time at McLaren, it was really wrong place at the wrong time for the Belgian.
Ericsson is heading off to Indycar to compete with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for 2019. Ericsson, who made his F1 debut with Caterham in 2014, had been with the Sauber outfit since 2015. Ericsson would score 9 points en route to 18th in the championship. With the team struggling for money, Ericsson failed to score a single point in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
With a new team boss and new title sponsors in Alfa Romeo, 2018 had certainly been a better year for the Swede. Although, Ericsson had been out-performed by Charles Leclerc with the now Ferrari driver beating him by 30 points. With Leclerc off to Ferrari, it was confirmed that 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen would partner Antonio Giovinazzi for this season leaving Ericsson without a drive. However, Ericsson is to stay as the team’s reserve drive and compete in Indycar as well.
Esteban Ocon is the poor victim of the 2018 Driver Market. The Frenchman is to continue as a reserve driver for Mercedes for 2019. Ocon, make his F1 debut in at the 2016 Belgian GP with Manor Racing before signing and competing for Force India in 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Ocon had impressed during his time at Force India and it looked like he would be racing with Renault for 2019. Not until Daniel Ricciardo signed with the manufacturer. Ocon’s hopes of staying with Force India faded after the team went into administration and was bought by a group of investors which included Lance Stroll’s father. With the team sticking with Sergio Perez, Ocon was looking at possible seats at Toro Rosso and Williams. Red Bull’s Christian Horner saying that Ocon’s ties with Mercedes prevented them from signing him. Ocon however, managed to out-qualify Perez 16 times to the Mexican’s 5 over the 2018 season.
The New Zealander currently doesn’t have any plans for 2019 but is to remain part of Porsche’s factory driver programme. Hartley, made his F1 debut at the 2017 United States GP before staying on and racing with the Red Bull junior team, Toro Rosso, for the 2018 F1 Season.
Hartley endured a very difficult year in which he was able to score 4 points compared to team-mate Pierre Gasly’s haul of 29 points. Hartley, suffered numerous accidents and crashes across the season including his high-speed crashes at Spain and Britain and his lap 1 incident with Lance Stroll in Canada. The 29 year-old felt confident of keeping his seat for 2019 but instead was replaced by Alexander Albon. Hartley has been linked with a Formula E seat with Porsche in the 2019/2020 season.
After being dropped from Williams for 2019, Sergey Sirotkin is targeting DTM and WEC opportunities instead. The Russian was confirmed as a Williams driver alongside Lance Stroll for the 2018 F1 Season after beating Robert Kubica to the seat.
It’s no secret to say that Williams endured their worst season in F1 for a while and had the “worst” car of the grid. The team saying that they had gone the wrong direction of aerodynamics – this prevented the drivers from progressing up the grid. Sirotkin had a fairly reliable season, only retiring from 3 races, but when he did finish, it was out of the points and near the back of the field. His only highlight was at the Italian GP where he scored his first and only point of the season in 10th only after the disqualification of Haas’s Romain Grosjean. Although in his battle with Stroll, Sirotkin managed to out-qualify the Canadian 12 times showing his one-lap pace.