The 2018 Formula One Season may only be 6 months away from the initial first launch but the mind set and the deals are well underway with speculation over drivers’ future’s a hot topic in the world of F1.
Already 6 Drivers have confirmed contracts for 2018 but with 20 seats available on the grid, there is no doubt they’ll plenty of drivers aiming to grab a seat next season. Some drivers are out of contract at the end of the season and may fancy a fresh new challenge with another team or may end their F1 careers. 3 big names finish their current contracts at the end of the year; Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. Whilst Sebastian will most likely sign a new deal, the elder drivers like Kimi and Fernando may want to call it a day.
There are also some upcoming youngsters who may want to have a crack at F1 with an aim to join a team lower down the field. Young talent such as Oliver Rowland, Antonio Giovinazzi and Charles Leclerc are some examples of potential superstars who are in a shot of racing in F1.
Here are some of the prediction for what the grid will look like for the 2018 Formula One Season
Mercedes AMG Petronas
Prediction: Lewis Hamilton & Valtteri Bottas
Lewis and Valtteri have both been impressive in their first year together and have so far not created any friction between each other. Hamilton has a contract until the end of 2018 whilst Valtteri has only signed a one year deal when he joined in 2017. Bottas has put on impressive results, including a win in Russia, that the team will most likely sign Valtteri on a new deal continuing his services beyond 2017.
Potential Candidates: Sebastian Vettel, Pascal Wehrlein, Esteban Ocon
Prediction: Sebastian Vettel & Carlos Sainz Jr
Ferrari are flying high once again with Sebastian Vettel in shot of a 5th World Championship and Kimi Raikkonen providing good results for the Scuderia. Interestingly, both Sebastian and Kimi don’t have a contract for next season. Team Boss Maurizio Arrviabene has denied that need to start contract talks at this stage of the season, but it’ll most likely that Sebastian will sign a brand new 2-3 year deal. Kimi however, is in question. At the age of 37, soon to be 38 in October, Kimi will most likely call it a day and retire if not given a new contract. If he doesn’t sign, then Ferrari will have to go shopping for a new driver. Rumors speculate about Sergio Perez or Charles Leclerc are in line as Kimi replacement but Carlos Sainz Jr may have a shot at Ferrari if he chooses to leave Red Bull.
Potential Candidates: Sergio Perez, Antonio Giovinazzi, Charles Leclerc
Red Bull Racing
Prediction: Daniel Ricciardo & Max Verstappen
Both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen have contracts with the Milton Keynes based team for 2018 and will probably most likely to stay this way for a few more years to come. The pair have provided Red Bull results in 2017 despite the reliability of the Renault engine powering the RB13. Both have potential to be world champions and Red Bull will be willing to crown a new world champion in the years to come
Potential Candidates: Carlos Sainz Jr
Sahara Force India
Prediction: Sergio Perez & Esteban Ocon
Despite their fued on track at the Canadian Grand Prix last weekend, the pair are providing Force India positive results for the team. Both Perez and Ocon are delivering this season and may potentially end the season with a podium in the bag. Ocon signed with the team at the beginning of 2017 with a multi-year deal but Perez is still uncertain about his future. The Mexican will be aiming to have a shot at the Ferrari seat but knowing Force India are heading in the right direction, he’ll most likely stay for another year.
Potential Candidates: Pascal Wehrlein, Daniil Kvyat
Williams Martini Racing
Prediction: Felipe Massa & Lance Stroll
Whilst it may not be a good season at the moment for Williams, they’re focusing on the long game. Lance Stroll may have pressure on his shoulders at such a young age, but he’s developing very well with his first points scored at his home race in Canada. Williams are committed to Stroll and will develop him over the coming years with Felipe alongside him for another year. Massa, who planned to retire last year but joined back when Bottas left, will most likely stay on for another year with rumors saying the Brazilian is set for a new deal.
Potential Candidates: Pascal Wehrlein, Sergio Perez
Prediction: Fernando Alonso/Jenson Button & Stoffel Vandoorne
There are many predictions for the future of Mclaren, largely with their power unit with reports saying that Zak Brown and Mclaren have had enough of Honda and will aim to reach an agreement with another engine supplier, Mercedes potentially. If Honda do stay on, no doubt Fernando will want to get away from Honda and either move to another team or head else where outside F1. It would be sad loss to a talented driver such as Fernando to leave with a disappointing end to his F1 career. This may bring the return of Jenson Button, who is the only Mclaren driver to have a contract for 2018. But if Mercedes come back to F1, Fernando might extend his 3 years further on with the Woking based team. Stoffel Vandoorne is looked to be safe for a 2nd season.
Potential Candidates: Nyck De Vries, Nobuharu Matsushita
Scuderia Toro Rosso
Prediction: Daniil Kvyat & Pierre Gasly
Franz Tost has stated that he is happy with Carlos and Daniil in the team and are looking to sign them on for another year. But Sainz does move to Ferrari in 2018, then someone will have to come in with Kvyat. Step forward Pierre Gasly. The next Red Bull academy ready for the step to F1. Gasly has tested multiple times with Red Bull and has shown what he’s capable off, winning the GP2 Championship last year. The pair of Kyvat and Gasly would create an interesting line up at Toro Rosso but we know secretly Kvyat would love to be at Red Bull after last year’s early dismissal that led to him being dropped.
Potential Candidates: Carlos Sainz Jr
Renault Sport F1 Team
Prediction: Nico Hulkenberg & Oliver Rowland
Nico Hulkenberg is on a 2 year contract with the Enstone based team and is currently pushing the team forward in the constructors. Jolyon Palmer however, is in danger of losing his drive with increasing pressure from his poor performances. If Renault do decide to call it a day for Jolyon at the end of the year, then Renault have plenty of options to sign for 2018. Oliver Rowland recently stepped up from Academy driver to Development driver this year and is performing brilliantly in FIA Formula 2, currently in 2nd place behind Charles Leclerc in the championship. There are other options such as Sergey Sirotkin and even Robert Kubica to be Jolyon Palmer’s replacement. Time will tell whether Palmer will stay or go.
Potential Candidates: Jolyon Palmer, Sergey Sirotkin, Robert Kubica
Haas have a pairing that are equal and can compete in the points on a good weekend. Whilst Romain Grosjean showed his frustration over the team radio at Canada over the car set up, the mood in the camp is positive. Rumors question the line up when announced a few weeks ago that Antonio Giovinazzi would be taking Kevin Magnussen’s seat for 7 Free Practice 1 sessions over the rest of the season. Despite this, the pair will be looking to stay on with Romain staying on for another year and Kevin Magnussen, who has a contract with Haas, will stay.
Potential Candidates: Charles Leclerc, Antonio Giovinazzi
Prediction: Antonio Giovinazzi & Nobuharu Matsushita
Sauber will enter a transition year with the introduction of Honda engines for 2018. This change of engines may also spark a change with the driver line up with Honda coming in. Nobuharu Matsushita is a Japanese driver backed by Mclaren and Honda and is progressing well in his 3rd season in FIA Formula 2/GP2. With also sponsors from Japan backing Nobuharu, Sauber may sign him up. Now that leaves the 2nd seat. It’s a difficult choice between Marcus Ericsson, Pascal Wehrlein and Antonio Giovinazzi but I believe Antonio will get the seat with Ferrari aiming to get a 3rd driver in and build up his experience for a possible future Ferrari drive. It’s a hard choice as Pascal is delivering results for Sauber and Marcus Ericsson’s sponsors own Sauber but time will tell on who will get the 2nd seat.
Potential Candidates: Pascal Wehrlein, Marcus Ericsson
The driver market will certainly be an interesting one over the course of the year as the seats start to fill up for 2018!