Just a day later than the announcements at Mercedes and Renault, Racing Point decided to join in and announce that they will field an unchanged line-up next season with Canadian Lance Stroll continuing to partner Sergio Perez who signed a three year extension to his current contract.
Perez looking at long-term stay at Racing Point
Having join what was formerly known as Force India in 2014, Mexican Sergio Perez has been a key member of the team and has delivered strong results for the Silverstone based team. In the latter half of 2018 when Force India went into administration, “Checo”, played a major role in saving the team which has emerged with new members of staff and a bold plan for their future in F1.
Perez’s extension to his current contract will see the 29-year-old stay until the end of 2022 in the hope that the team, by then, will be challenging for podiums and victories on a regular occasion. Former Williams driver, Lance Stroll, will stay on for next season at least as it was pretty much decided when his father, Lawrence Stroll who leads the consortium that owns Racing Point, stated that his son “will likely have a seat at the team for as long as he is a Formula 1 driver.”
F1’s 2020 Driver jigsaw starting to come together
Racing Point along with Mercedes, Renault and McLaren are the only teams on the grid so far to confirm their driver line-ups for next season. It’s heavily expected, although not revealed yet, that Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel will stay at Ferrari. So, there are 6 remaining seats up for grabs at five different teams for 2020.
- Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton & Valterri Bottas
- Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel & Charles Leclerc
- Red Bull Racing Honda: Max Verstappen & NA
- McLaren Renault: Carlos Sainz Jr & Lando Norris
- Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda: NA
- Renault: Daniel Ricciardo & Esteban Ocon
- Racing Point: Sergio Perez & Lance Stroll
- Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari: Kimi Raikkonen & NA
- Haas Ferrari: Kevin Magnussen & NA
- Williams Mercedes: George Russell & NA
Current drivers without a seat
Former Williams, Sauber and Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg finds himself out of a seat for next season as it was revealed that his current seat at Renault would be taken by the returning Esteban Ocon. It’s been speculated that he has been in talks with management at Haas about partnering Kevin Magnussen for next season but their bitter on-track relationship could hamper the deal. Possible seats at Red Bull/Toro Rosso have been quietly talked about and still could happen or possibly a seat at Alfa Romeo.
Haas driver Romain Grosjean could be facing his last season in the sport. After a difficult start to the season last year, Grosjean came back in the second half of the season a rejuvenated driver but along with incidents with Magnussen during races, unnecessary mistakes and a poor car has led Grosjean to be under fire and could be ejected from Haas come the end of the season. A possible transfer to Alfa Romeo could be on the cards and if it does happen, the 33-year-old could once again partner Raikkonen when they were team-mates for two seasons during 2012 and 2013 at Lotus.
Pierre Gasly, Alexander Albon and Daniil Kvyat are all linked with each other with one seat available at Red Bull and two seats at Toro Rosso. Gasly’s mid-season demotion has led to him returning to Toro Rosso and Albon taking his place at Red Bull. Whether this will stay will depend on Albon’s second half of the season at Red Bull on how well he performs. Red Bull will have quite a few choices to make come the end of the season.
Being the first Italian since 2011 to compete in an F1 race, Antonio Giovinazzi‘s first full season in the sport hasn’t gone as smooth as he has wanted. The mounting pressure on the young Italian wasn’t helped by a last-lap crash at the Belgian GP on Sunday where he was about to take his best finish of 8th. 10th in Austria remains his only top 10 finish and with Hulkenberg and former Sauber driver, Marcus Ericsson waiting in the wings, “Gio” will have to find some form soon if he’s to keep his seat for next season.
The amazing return of Robert Kubica hasn’t developed as much as people thought. Given his limitations, it’s expected that the 2008 Canadian GP winner would struggle initially. But up against British rookie, George Russell, Kubica has struggled to consistently match the 2018 F2 Champion at the struggling Williams team. He’s yet to out-qualify his team-mate but has the upper-hand when it comes to points scored where the Pole was promoted into the top 10 when both Alfa Romeo drivers were disqualified at the German GP. Test and Reserve driver and F2 contender, Nicholas Latifi, could pinch the Pole’s seat for next season.