Apologies for the lack of entries of late, I hope to get something done on a more regular basis in future.
Silly season is early this year with a lot of rumours, let’s look at some facts to try to work out what might happen.
Vettel, Bottas and Raikkonen are all out of contract at the end of this season, so for the top teams these are the obvious drivers that *may* move.
The rumours are Vettel is moving to Mercedes and Verstappen is moving to Ferrari – the Verstappen rumour isn’t going to amount to anything I don’t think as Red Bull still have him under contract until the end of 2019 with a “watertight” contract and they really won’t want him to leave as he is a future star of F1. I doubt they will keep him after that though unless the car is capable of challenging for the title.
However, it is pretty likely Raikkonen will leave Ferrari at the end of this season as his performances have been well below the level of his team-mate Vettel, even given the fact that the German is the de-facto number 1 for the Scuderia.
I expect Kimi to either retire at the end of this season or to end up at a midfield (or worse) team for 2018.
He is 38 years old soon, so definitely getting long in the tooth for an F1 driver, especially at a top team.
Vettel won’t join Mercedes with Hamilton there in my opinion – he will not like the challenge that would bring without having number 1 status and it is very unlikely Mercedes would grant him that and even less likely Hamilton would accept being a number 2 driver.
However, Hamilton has publicly stated he would like to drive for Ferrari, but would he do so if they were not competitive? There is the possibility that Vettel and Hamilton would swap teams but I don’t see this happening yet, Hamilton is under contract with Mercedes until the end of next season so that might be when it happens – be interesting to see if Vettel signs a 1 year contract with Ferrari as if he does that would make a swap at the end of 2018 highly likely in my opinion – depending on the teams relative performances.
I expect not much to change at the main teams therefore, Kimi will leave and be replaced possibly by Grosjean or more likely Sainz – Red Bull said recently they would let Sainz go for the right money, he would be a good fit for Ferrari and willing to play second fiddle to Vettel for a season or two at least.
Bottas has done well enough at Mercedes for them to keep him and probably offer him a longer deal than just for 2018.
Hamilton and Vettel will swap teams, but not this season.
As for the other main protagonists, Alonso will be looking for a better option over McLaren but I don’t see any openings for him, his only hope is the Honda power improves (Mercedes won’t supply McLaren with engines and I don’t see Ferrari doing that either, Renault might be an option) or he will retire. He’s also no spring chicken being 36 years old, which is about the usual age F1 drivers retire. I expect Alonso to be racing for McLaren in 2018 with Renault engines whilst Sainz is going to move but not sure where.
Interesting times ahead.