Race Weekend Central

F1 Midweek: With Hungary Over, Now it is Silly Season!!

It might be nice to take a break following last week’s Hungarian Grand Prix. Most F1 drivers are looking forward to relaxing for the next few weeks until the season resumes in the last week of August at the famous Spa- Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.

Unfortunately, the problem is those familiar words that start coming up around June and continues echoing until the early part of October, and they are known as “Silly Season.”

For those who don’t know, silly season is when rumors circulate about who might or will be driving where in Formula One next season. Some years might be duller than others, but this season is not going to be dull, for there are 16 seats open for 2019. So, if anyone would like to know the situation that might change before the seasons resumes, here are the teams and their current and predictable outcomes:

For the champions from Mercedes, it is the easiest of all problems, as both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have already resigned for 2019: Hamilton for two years, and Bottas for one. Ferrari, on the other hand, has Sebastian Vettel signed for another year, while the question will be if Kimi Raikkonen will stay on, or if the of Charles LeClerc replacing him from Sauber turns out to be true. There is even a crazy saying that both could switch, but it is impossible to believe that the Finn would go to a lower ranked team after placing on the podium for so many races this season.

Red Bull Racing will most likely start both Max Verstappen, who has signed up to 2020, and Daniel Ricciardo, But the Australian could sign soon, and has not yet. No, replacement teams don’t really fit Ricciardo, so it should be these two once again. Another factor is the addition of the Honda engines, replacing Renault. If the team finds themselves in the midfield instead of up front, there will be more complaining by the team.

For Renault themselves, both seats are open, but Nico Hulkenberg should fill one of them. For the second driver, it is still open as Esteban Ocon is French, and on loan from Mercedes, who doesn’t mind putting him through a works team before possibly buying into his contract. Carlos Sainz Jr. could return, but if he does not, McLaren could take him to possibly join Fernando Alonso, if he, wants to rejoin the team. Others could be Sergio Pérez, who Renault have tried for at one time, but only if the others fall by the wayside. Speaking again of McLaren, the idea here is that if Alonso returns, one spot will be open, which could be Sainz or even Stoffel Vandoorne again. Lando Norris is an outside choice, but, with his youth, he might not be ready for F1.

Haas has done its best in its three-season history in becoming an American team. But there have been missed opportunities to podiums and placings in the top five. Kevin Magnussen should return but has not been resigned. Then there is Romain Grosjean, who has done well in the last two out of three races, but it might be a lost cause. Even if the Frenchman improves, he might not be back for next season following many lost chances due to careless errors. Many other drivers have been interested in this team like Perez, so it will be interesting.

Other teams have one or more seats left, and it is the lower ranked teams like Williams and Sauber, who should keep Marcus Ericsson, Toro Rosso, and Force India.

For Force India, the question is not ‘who is going to drive for the team’, but rather ‘is the team going to be around at all’? The squad went into administration last week and did race in Hungary. But who could purchase the team? Sources say that Britain’s Rich Energy could pump nearly 400 million dollars into buying the team. Another rumor is that Laurence Stroll, Canadian Billionaire, who put his son, Lance, into Formula 1, could buy the team, and moving his son to drive there from Williams. The most intriguing rumor though, is that Andretti Motorsport could buy into the team. But it might pull out if the costs are too high. Finally, a bunch of U.S. investors and David Brabham could revive his famous name and purchase this team.

Whatever the situation may be, it will be an interesting one for that team and other drivers who are trying to get onto the grid for next season. Silly season is still young.

Stay tuned.

About the author

Mark is a motorsports journalist specializing in the field for the last 16 years in Formula 1 with experience in covering team launches, feature stories and race weekends during the season. In addition, Mark covers the World Endurance Championship, which includes the 24 Hours of Lemans. He also speaks French up to an intermediate level, with a basic understanding of German. Have worked for agencies as Racing Information Service News, Racing Nation, Fansided, the Munich Eye Newspaper in Munich, Germany, and Autoweek magazine. Mark is also a knowledgeable Formula 1 driver after graduating from both the F1 International and AGS racing academies.

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