With the first half of the 2018 season complete the F1 silly season can kick into gear so here are my predictions.
Mercedes- Lewis Hamilton and Veltteri Bottas
This is an easy one as both have been signed on new contracts which take them both to the end of 2020 so no surprises there.
Ferrari- Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc
Again Vettel is already confirmed till the end of 2020 but what’s unusual for Ferrari it is unknown who will partner him.
Kimi is the obvious choice and has been that choice for the last 4 seasons. However, he is close to the end of his career and the team may want some fresh blood in the team. As such I believe young driver Charles Leclerc, who was given a Sauber drive this year, will take over something Jules Bianchi never the chance to do.
Red Bull- Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly
Red Bull would have also been a formality if it wasn’t for the bombshell dropped by Ricciardo that he is moving to Renault for 2019. This means Red Bull have to try and scramble for a replacement to partner Verstappen.
Carlos Sainz would be the obvious choice as he is currently on loan to Renault from Red Bull and Hulkenberg is also locked in at Renault. But there are some reasons he may not return.
Firstly Sainz and Verstappen had an infamously tense relationship the last time they were together and Red Bull will want a Mercedes esk set up to help Verstappen in the title fight.
Secondly Red Bull are moving to the Honda engines in 2019 and Gasly is used to that engine having used for 2018, so will bring with him not only the knowledge of that engine but also a working relationship with the Japanese manufacturer.
Renault- Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg
This is the biggest change in recent history with Ricciardo switching camps and moving the Renault team for 2019.
He will partner Nico Hulkenberg who is still yet to score a podium.
Force India- Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon
Force India is a tricky one as the future of the team is unknown.
Perez along with BWT and Mercedes forced the team into administration in an attempt to save them from bankruptcy so it would seem unusual for him to be dropped.
But because of this Force India may end up in the same situation as Williams being desperate for money. And similar to Williams it may be one Lawrence Stroll who saves them.
This is why many believe Lance Stroll will move to Force India with his dad buying out the team.
But I hope this doesn’t happen as it may put Ocon, who I really like, in Limbo.
Mclaren- Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris
I expect Mclaren to see a big change next year, Lando Norris who is currently second in Formula 2 will get the promotion to F1 as Vandoorne seems to be lacking something and hasn’t had any noticeable moments this year.
As for Alonso, many including myself believe he will leave the sport to pursue other goals either in WEC or Indycar.
As such the now unemployed Sainz is believed to in the running for a Mclaren seat severing his ties with Red Bull.
Toro Rosso- Brendon Hartley and Sérgio Sette Câmara
Red Bull will keep Hartley on at Toro Rosso with Gasly going to the sister Red Bull team and Sainz off to Mclaren.
Sette Câmara, however, is a complete wildcard as I have no Idea who will join Hartley. Normally you would say whoever is next in the junior program but at the moment the closest they have is Dan Ticktum who was blocked from testing for not having enough super licence points.
However, Câmara was part of the Red Bull program in 2016 so has connections to the outfit.
Williams- Lance Stroll and Pascal Wehrlein
As mentioned before Strolls dad is looking to buy Force India and put Lance in the car. But assuming this doesn’t happen he will likely stay at Williams and continue to help them with their financial issues especially as Williams won’t have a title sponsor next year when their contract with Martini expires.
Meanwhile, Mercedes junior Pascal Wahrlein was in the running for a Williams seat after Manor went bust but was beaten to it by Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin, who both bring big sponsor packages, but Sirotkin was not proven and had little success in the junior formulas.
And while he has quietly gotten on with the job Williams will want someone who can more consistently score points and Mercedes will want to get him back in F1.
Haas- Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen
This is a Fairly easy one I don’t think Haas will take on any young drivers and Magnussen and Grosjean are a good pairing who on their days can pull in big points.
Sauber- Marcus Ericsson and Antonio Giovinazzi
With Leclerc in the Ferrari Giovinazzi, currently, Ferrari third driver will take over the seat.
He was expected to partner Leclerc at Sauber in 2018 but Ericsson was chosen instead (partly because of his sponsor package) but has managed to score two points finishes this year. As such he will stay to partner the young Italian.
This is a particularly testing time for Giovinazzi as he hasn’t driven full time in a single seater racing series since 2016 and could miss out on an F1 career if he doesn’t get a seat soon.
So what do you think the grid will look like in 2019?
Let me know and please share.