Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2017

The 2018 F1 driver market: No big changes for the ‘big three’?

2018 F1 season

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Twelve months ago it seemed any driver with a hope of getting into a world championship-contending Mercedes would have to wait until at least 2019.

Lewis Hamilton, the championship leader at the time, was and remains contracted until the end of next year. His team mate Nico Rosberg had just signed a new two-year deal.

Then in a stunning turn of events Rosberg beat Hamilton to the 2016 title and promptly retired. Mercedes grabbed Valtteri Bottas to take his place for this year.

With big hitters like Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso out of contract at the end of this season, the pressure has been on Bottas to deliver and secure his place at the team for 2018.

With the season now past its halfway point, Bottas looks in a great position to hold onto his dream promotion. This is at least as much to do with his strong performances since the beginning of the year as circumstances outside his control.

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Just one year for Vettel

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Hungaroring, 2017
Vettel has kept Ferrari waiting
Vettel, who was rumoured to have spoken to Mercedes about a 2018 seat, is now tipped to extend his Ferrari deal by at least one year. In F1 contract terms this is him damning them with faint praise.

Ferrari are used to having their pick of the best drivers and locking them down on multiple-year deals. By letting his original contract with Ferrari run its course and only offering a one-year extension on his services, Vettel stands to give himself the whip hand in the negotiations. And he would be the obvious choice for Mercedes in 2019 if either Hamilton or Bottas are not retained.

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff has indicated he would not bring Alonso into the team. If Vettel takes another year at Ferrari and Bottas gets another year at Mercedes, that will leave both available 12 months down the line.

This appears to be the way things are heading. Wolff has said Bottas is “clearly our favourite” for the 2018 seat. But he also hinted it will be just another one-year deal.

“Valtteri is doing a good job but I have been here for a while and I don’t think you should be rushed into a driver decision,” said Wolff. “The market becomes pretty interesting in 2019 and onwards and you just need to plan ahead what’s happening.”

Besides Vettel, Wolff may want to keep his options open in case one of the Red Bull drivers become available. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen are contracted for at least another year, but performances clauses may offer them the opportunity to move on after that.

Raikkonen likely to stay

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2017
Raikkonen has been useful for Vettel’s title bid
That accounts for five of the six seats at the ‘big three’ teams. The sixth is occupied by Kimi Raikkonen, whom Ferrari have hinted will also get another year.

Last year Ferrari put the matter of Raikkonen’s 2017 contract to rest early on when he was having a decent season. This year has not begun as well but his qualifying pace has improved and he demonstrated his value to Vettel’s championship hopes in Monaco and Hungary, whether he wanted to or not.

In its recent history Ferrari has shied away from hiring anyone who wasn’t a proven race winner. That leaves them with few options even if they wanted to replace Raikkonen.

Romain Grosjean clearly craves the opportunity, but it’s hard to make a case for him on the strength of his patchy form at Haas. Sergio Perez is again proving himself a star of the midfield. But would Ferrari recall the junior driver they lost to McLaren in 2013?

Perhaps the biggest argument in favour of keeping Raikkonen is that failing to keep him would risk denting his motivation in the second half of this year, just when they need him to protect Vettel from the threat of Mercedes.

The signs point to a static scenario among the ‘big three’ teams for 2018. But Rosberg’s shock move last year reminded us to take nothing for granted on the driver market.

Over to you

Do you expect the top three teams to keep the same drivers next year?

Have your say in the comments.

View the current list of 2018 F1 drivers and teams

2018 F1 season

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 62 comments on “The 2018 F1 driver market: No big changes for the ‘big three’?”

    1. The main reason Kimi is staying at Ferrari is because of Sebastian Vettel.

      1. Yes, I thought I heard (probably Sky) that part of Vettel’s renewed contract was that Raikkonen remained his team mate…?

    2. I expect 2019 to be the big driver shake up year. Some tentative predictions:

      * Vettel and Bottas at Mercedes.
      * Hamilton and Hulkenberg at Ferrari (Kimi retires in 2019).
      * Best buddies Alonso and Kubica at Renault (definitely not Grosjean).
      * Red Bull line-up unchanged.

      1. And I would guess Vandoorne and Norris at Mclaren

      2. I’m excited for Renault.. I think kubica next year, an upturn in form and a driver pushing them forward. but I think for 2019, Ferrari will replace Kimi with Ricciardo.

        1. It’s like when people were expecting Schumacher to push Mercedes forwards and putting Rosberg to shame. Yet we all know how that turned out.

          Then add that Kubica’s only claim to fame is that he was slightly better than Heidfeld.

      3. * Best buddies Alonso and Kubica at Renault

        Very interesting! I hadn’t thought about that scenario.

      4. I reckon swap Charles LeClerc in for Hulk, otherwise I agree to that.

        1. Quite possibly @pezlo2013, although I think it may be one or two years early for LeClerc. Depends how he does at Sauber ;)

      5. You might be right John…

        As a long time Ferrari fan, I honestly don’t know how I’d feel about having Hamilton in the stable. Undoubtedly, he’s a first rate driver but I can’t stand him, his ”brand” and his new hair plugs! :). I just can’t see myself rooting for him during a race yet I LOVE Ferrari and have loved Ferrari since the mid 90s. I sense some real internal conflict in my future! LOL

      6. Might seem like a bit of a statement, but I could see Hamilton retiring after 2018 if Vettel and Bottas’ both beat him over the next year and a half. I think he’d be happy to go off and make music/party/enjoy himself with 3 titles under his belt. I see Räikkönen staying on for next season and then retiring too. I could see Vettel going to Mercedes if Ferrari is uncompetitive next year (apparently he’s pushing for a 1 year contract). That might push Ferrari into signing a big name like Alonso (could easily stay as good as he is until at least 40 – remember Ferrari like signing experienced champions, there won’t be many of these left once Hamilton and Räikkönen leave, just Alonso and Vettel) and maybe someone like LeClerc for 2019 (Alonso would make a good mentor for him too). I could see Red Bull remaining as is to be honest. They have the money and the team to convince Ric and Ves to stay.

        Ferrari: Vettel and Räikkönen
        Mercedes: Bottas and Hamilton
        Red Bull: Riccardo and Verstappen

        Mercedes: Vettel and Bottas
        Ferrari: Alonso and LeClerc
        Red Bull: Riccardo and Verstappen

    3. While one has to remember that Ferrari has a habit of throwing ideas into the ring, ideas that then come to nothing, one intriguing possibility arises from the comments of Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne (July 31st) that he saw Sauber’s ditching of the Honda deal as a “chance to have a junior team”. What is known is that Ferrari will have a bit of a headache when it comes to the 2019 driver line-up and that in the words of Marchionne: “we have a pair of exceptional drivers we need to run”; e.g. Giovinazzi and Leclerc.

      As it stands with Sauber owned by Longbow, it would seem that only one of the two could be accommodated when Ferrari has a need of evaluating both as accurately as possible ahead of 2019. But what are Longbow’s plans with/for Sauber?

      Earlier this year, Monisha Kaltenborn made a play designed to make Sauber Honda’s official partner for 2018 as it seemed highly likely then that McLaren would part ways with the Japanese manufacturer. But instead of earning her plaudits, this cost her her job and Sauber wound up a Ferrari customer, a clear indication of what Longbow’s intentions were not and what they might be.

      Now remember that Longbow picked up Sauber when it was at the point of folding and could not even pay the wages of the few remaining employees. They must have gotten all the team’s assets at rock-bottom price and have since spent a minimum (year-old engines) while slowly rebuilding the engineering side. If they sold the team to Ferrari, they would probably make what to them is a decent profit from their short-term ownership.

      If it pans out this way; that what was once Sauber is reborn as a Ferrari B-team (Alfa Romeo?) over the winter, then Ferrari will get the best possible comparison between Leclerc and Giovinazzi ahead of 2019. Obviously, they will hope to resign Vettel but there are other almost equally appetising choices available to be partnered by the winner of the Leclerc – Giovinazzi showdown.

      Also, to the great relief of many, it would see an end to Ericsson’s tenure in F1.

      1. Evil Homer (@)
        9th August 2017, 14:06

        Good comment there you make some interesting points, as always we will see what business deals are done so we then know who are the best 20 drivers in the world !! (Commercially of course).

        Leclerc and Giovinazzi would be a great hit out!

      2. Good post, it could really be the rumoured Alfa Romeo return. Even if it was a ‘flip’ by the new owners, seems anyway the best for Sauber and for us.

        1. @balue certainly better than Manor f1

    4. No change for next year IMO.

      Kimi is still the best number 2 driver available so I don’t see Ferrari changing drivers.
      Mercedes want someone who isn’t quite as quick as Hamilton but is consistent so I doubt they’ll change anything.
      Red bull definitely won’t change anything – their drivers would only be willing to move to Ferrari or Merc anyway.

      1. @petebaldwin Curious to me that you think TW wants someone less quick than LH but consistent. He wanted WDC Nico Rosberg this year…was perfectly fine managing that rivalry. Everything TW has said has lead me to believe they are racers at Mercedes who believe as a top team in honouring themselves with the best possible racers they can get, which also honours the viewing and paying audience, including allowing their drivers to race it out on the track. A consistent less quick driver for LH doesn’t sound to me like TW’s recipe to success, especially now that there is a resurgent SV/Ferrari on the grid, leading the WDC as we speak.

        1. I’m completely with you, I agree with everything you’ve said.
          Also, on another note: Alonso said he’d decide on his future by September. I seem to remember Wolff saying they’d decide on Bottas’ future by mid-September (interesting). He’s done a good job for the silver arrows, so why haven’t they offered him a new contract, it would only relieve the pressure on him and build his confidence…
          My belief is that Wolff knows with a resurgent Ferrari challenging them, he needs the best driver (even if not the best team player historically) on the grid as an option for next year…

          Mostly conjecture, but backed by logic (in my head at least)…

      2. You say they won’t change anything because they want someone not quite as quick as Hamilton but still consistent…. here’s one for you…what if Bottas’ turns out to beat Hamilton more and more this year? Taking too many points off of his team mate and in turn helping Ferrari to the Driver’s Championship?
        Would they make a change then? Taking a gamble on Sainz Jr? Hulkenberg?

    5. Evil Homer (@)
      9th August 2017, 14:15

      Kimi MAY be the best no.2 but depends on if they are looking for a solid ‘wing man’ for Seb to win the drivers title or if they really want to win the Constructors Title. Bottas is the real deal and wont sit back as a 2nd driver to Lewis. Kimi wont do that either but on form that’s where he is at, but current pace pretty good too.

      Ferrari must want the WCC as much as Mercs, so they may be better with Checo that may make Seb more uncomfortable, but that would get them more points as a team.

      Do I think Kimi should go or stay??………… “BWOAH…………. :)

      1. @evilhomer Checo would make Seb more uncomfortable? You know that how? In the meantime it’s Perez himself who’s feeling uncomfortable with rookie Ocon snapping at his heels so you get stupid stuff from Perez like in Canada and Hungary

        1. Perez is destroying Ocon, there’s balance in points because Ocon took him out of his best race in Azerbaijan, but look at outrace, qualifying and laps led and you will see the reality of things

        2. Paul Villeneuve
          15th August 2017, 6:22

          Buddy Ocon is taking a beating from Perez, look at qualy and race results

    6. Right now I don’t know why Vettel would leave Ferrari. And so the rumours are he’ll extend his contract through 2018. But I just don’t see why standing from where we do today, he would know that Ferrari is only good for one more year for him and then presumably Mercedes is where he would want to be for 2019. That doesn’t quite add up to me. I see SV re-upping with Ferrari for 2 to 3 years since they’re resurgent and he’s the natural number one.

      And if TW truly doesn’t want FA and it’s LH/VB next year again I think that will be a shame…another year of ‘after you, no no I insist after YOU.’ However, that hand holding, love fest isn’t as good for F1 and can disappear in a heartbeat, and would have had LH not handed VB back his position. And it goes without saying LH would love Mercedes to retain VB and not hire FA. So I’d be really surprised and disappointed at TW’s reversal to everything he has hinted at which is that top teams should have top drivers on them, and that drivers should be allowed to race each other. Is that really what we are seeing at Mercedes? LH was just handed an opportunity to do something about SV and was just one pass on KR or one KR mistake from changing the whole dynamic at Mercedes. So tell me again what would be so bad having two WDCs on the team? Friction? That’s always just under the surface anyway, but more importantly increases the odds of keeping the competition at bay.

      1. I don’t see the point in renewing for multiple seasons when all top seats will be available at the end of next year. If Vettel signs beyond 2018, he’s effectively locking himself out of all negotiations next year, which could prove to be dramatic. I think the best option for him would be to sign for one year with an automatic performance clause triggering one more season at Ferrari

        1. @guilherme Yeah that’s a fair point, but I’m just not convinced ‘all’ top seats will be available after 2018, and I’m not convinced SV considers another seat any more ‘top’ than the one he has now. But yeah, if he can get just a one year extension and is confident for more seasons with Ferrari after that, so be it. Or maybe he really wants to end up at Mercedes before long? Not sure. But of course how can we be sure of anything from our armchairs.

    7. @robbie Remind me how many points is Bottas behind LH right now? What’s the qualy score? Very tight on both counts(see the team-mate comparison right here at F1 Fanatic). Bottas is doing better against Hamilton already at this early point in his top team career than Rosberg did in 3/4 seasons as LH’s team-mate. Bottas has potentially a better chance of being a top level driver than Rosberg ever was(and IMO NR never was any more than 2nd tier driver). And Bottas is working really well with LH, no intra-team war there. So their situation is excellent actually, they don’t need FA as long as they have LH. They have a low maintenance yet high performance driver lineup. Why would they want to sign Alonso? To see their drivers at each other’s throats? It would be great fun to watch and fantastic from F1’s point of view, but from the team’s perspective? As much as I would like to see Alonso at Merc it just doesn’t make sense

      1. @montreal95 No question it is hard to argue your points on the one side of the coin. My points on this include considerations such that I’m not convinced TW wants low maintenance. And low maintenance is never a guarantee, and can be gone in a single event. Eg. had Hamilton succeeded in the plan when VB was ordered to let him go. The team set it up for VB to get his spot back, and those concerned have used the terms respect and trust when LH did indeed hand back his spot…after questioning it…after squandering the opportunity…which could very easily have seen VB as one unhappy camper. Had it gone according to LH’s plan, LH would not have had to give the spot back and VB would have been left high and dry.

        The assumption that there would be any more friction with FA beside LH is purely that…an assumption. TW had resigned Nico for 2 more years, to match LH’s contract duration. That sound like someone who is afraid of a little friction on the team? Sounds to me more like someone who is happy to have friction to manage if it means he’s occupying the first two slots on the grid and shutting out the competition.

        Only a few weeks ago after SV’s whack on LH, TW said the lovey dovey between the two competitors was bound to not last, and now that the gloves are off it is better for F1. That just doesn’t sound to me like someone who is into designated 1’s and 2’s on the team. We’re talking about two drivers from different teams of course but the point being at some point the gloves need to come off. It is no different if the two vying for the WDC are on the same team, as we have seen with LH/NR.

        Hey I could very easily be wrong on this and perhaps VB is a shoe in for his Merc seat for 2018, but I can’t see the words coming out of TW’s mouth ‘because they get along’ as he knows that unless he wants a clear 1 and 2 on the team, the gloves have to come off at some point no matter who the teammates are. Why not have LH’s teammate be someone who many think is better than LH? Especially while he’s available and still has a few years left in him and when there is uncertainty with LH after 2018. There’s only one FA, with only a few seasons left (5 max?) and he can likely have FA for a song, and he can grab VB back another time.

        1. Sorry just wanted to clarify then…I can go along with Bottas not being a number 2 driver and potentially being better than Nico with some time and more experience in a top car, but if you are saying he already has a better chance of being a top level driver than Nico was, then does that not mean there is unquestionably a heated rivalry in the making? How much longer can they get along if they’re fighting for every point on the track? My answer…the gloves will have to come off sooner or later if VB is that good. So no peace for TW anyway, not that he is looking for or expecting that, imho.

          1. VB doesn’t seem the sort to resort to dirty tactics though. He comes from a very different place, without the entitled attitude that Rosberg had. And I think he could win a WDC without lopsided reliability aswell.

            1. @offdutyrockstar – Try looking at it from Rosberg’s point of view! He joined the Mercedes project in 2010 and beat Michael Schumacher 324 to 197 in their three years together. Then, just as the project was about to bear fruit, in comes Lewis Hamilton who had done absolutely zero for the Mercedes project. So hell yes if Nico felt entitled! He had every right to do so and to feel aggrieved about LH, who came into the team when all the hard work had already been done, to steal the fruits of his; Nico Rosberg’s long labour.

              If anyone has an obnoxious attitude of entitlement, it’s the fans of LH on his behalf.

            2. I was talking about @offdutyrockstar view on Bottas.

            3. Henrik with all due respect the single greatest factor in propelling Mercedes to the front of the grid was their sheer budget and engineering investment in Brixworth. Nico did not make the Mercedes a front running car nor did he sit in the board meetings in Stuttgart to procure the money to get that engine developed, Ross Brawn did.

            4. With all due respect @offdutyrockstar, without the input of drivers, engineers would be reduced to VR simulator runs in order to evaluate and develop their designs (Virgin anyone?). Without the enormous amount of testing done by Michael Schumacher, Ferrari would never have had that era of dominance 2000-5 *in spite* of Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne. Honda’s engines which ran perfectly on the dyno/test bench, would have been both reliable and quick. Also, were you correct, we could scrap all winter and in-season testing, need no FP but could go to straight to Q1. This is plainly ridiculous, but so is your claim.

            5. Also, were you correct, we could scrap all winter and in-season testing, need no FP but could go to straight to Q1. This is plainly ridiculous, but so is your claim.


              Henrik, how you managed to conclude that I seem to think testing is unimportant from that comment I have absolutely no idea and is frankly hilarious, you seem to have taken it rather personally. Read it again and you’ll perhaps understand that someone other than Nico doing the testing could have provided a similar level of feedback and the 2014 Mercedes would have still ended up as the dominant car in the field. Do you genuinely think that had Rosberg not been in the team that the W05 wouldn’t have been the car it was?

      2. Just realised something…Alonso has never finished a season on fewer points than a teammate (correct me if I’m wrong)
        Hamilton has been beaten over a season by Button and Rosberg now…..add Bottas’ to that list and I’m going to begin to seriously question whether Hamilton is really as great as everyone makes him out to be… Hamilton needs to dig deep and show Mercedes why they pay him as much as they do…if Bottas’ does manage to beat him this year and next, there is no need for anyone to have Hamilton on board.

    8. I think Mercedes’ expectation of Bottas was he wouldn’t be as good as he is, so the 1 year contract made sense. They could replace him at the end of the season with Vettel or Alonso and he would go back to Williams, and Massa would retire (again). However, Bottas has not only virtually guaranteed that Mercedes get the Constructors’ Championship, he has kept himself in contention with the World Drivers Championship.
      Recent Toto Wolff comments suggested Bottas simply needed to sign an extension to his contract, but if so why hadn’t this happened?

      1. Could be just a formality. Just like when Nico hadn’t yet re-signed some people projected that to mean he was gone when in fact it just meant that there was no hurry and that it was just a matter of finding the time to cross t’s and dot i’s. I would think from VB’s side it would be a no-brainer that he would want to stay at Mercedes. But if I hadn’t made my opinion clear 🙂 I hope the delay is that TW is talking to FA, who, imho, should be offering to drive at Merc for free if that is what it takes.

        1. Would the potential team disharmony that Alonso is more likely to cause compared to Bottas be such that the risk of taking Alonso is not worth it ?

          It is not the outright performance of the drivers that matter , it is how well the drivers are able to , along with the team , deliver their collective best.

          Note that I never said Alonso is the only driver that can cause disharmony; it is that compared to other drivers eg Bottas the propensity for him to cause disharmony is higher.

      2. I believe Wolff realises that with a resurgent Ferrari at hand, he needs the best driver available:
        Hence the delay….I don’t think Alonso to Mercedes is too strange a thought actually…if I’ve learned anything about F1 in the 15 years I’ve followed it, it’s that contracts don’t always mean all that much…and that the only predictable thing is that something unexpected is always possible.

    9. I think Alonso to Merc is a smart choice. I think without Ferrari looking stronger this year we’d be looking at people booing the mercs on the podiums like we started to see late in Vettel’s run.. No brand wants that.
      Everybody thinks Alonso deserves a drive at this point. He’s really endeared himself and shaken the fiery Spaniard persona.
      When I see Bottas winning races this season I don’t think how good Bottas is, I think how good is Hamilton? How long is Merc going to pay Hamilton Alonso money for Rossberg quality? Any warm body can exceed in that car. Stick the best driver on the grid in that car for a year and see how strong Hamilton’s contract negotiations go for 2019 on. Why worry about upsetting Hamilton when he can be equaled by a guy that couldn’t put Massa away? If Hamilton leads every lap next year what do you have, a guy who is going to marginally outperform most mid level drivers winning yet another title in far and away the best ride? Who cares about that enough to tune in at 3am? But watching Alonso do the same thing after dragging the modern iteration of an arrows into top tens for three seasons would be embraced by everybody in the stands regardless of your affiliation.

      1. Yeah for sure. Here’s what I’m envisioning. Unless VB dominates the next two or three races and makes true inroads on LH and SV, they’re going to have to give it up for LH mathematically. I think it is safe to say SV and LH will be too strong in the coming races for VB to suddenly dominate them both and secure himself further into the season mathematically. He’s going to become a natural number two at Mercedes this season, I predict.

        So how exciting is the re-signing of VB for 2018 of LH’s number two lovey dovey NBF over what would be massive F1 news and running of the season next year and therefore marketing value for Mercedes of the re-uniting of FA/LH? TW gonna wait until 2019 for FA? If I’m him I’m not risking losing FA to the competition. Only other option for FA with any meat to it would be Renault, and that might be interesting, but….nothing like LH/ FA.

        Who knows? Maybe VB is a no-brainer for TW for 2018, but to me that would be a departure in philosophy for him and a letdown. Don’t get me wrong I like VB and was expecting great things out of him this season once finally in a win-capable car, but there are other circumstances at play. And as I suggest elsewhere, if VB is that good, that worth keeping, then the gloves are going to have to come off between VB and LH at some point. TW having an easier time of it with VB than it was with Nico (which TW tried to continue but for his retiring) or FA, is not even sustainable, as hard as LH tries to make it thus.

        1. True….I know not everyone will agree with me…but I think Alonso is comfortably better than Vettel…with Ferrari as competitive as they are, Mercedes are still struggling to beat Vettel…but they still might.
          So although Mercedes may be able to afford to not sign Alonso…I don’t think they can afford to let Ferrari sign Alonso… that’s my thinking anyway.
          Stick Alonso in this year’s Ferrari and I think he’d run away with the championship.

      2. How long is Merc going to pay Hamilton Alonso money for Rossberg quality?

        If Bottas can’t manage to finished on top, Hamilton will still considered as the greatest regardless how close their performance all year.

      3. When I see Bottas winning races this season I don’t think how good Bottas is

        The difficulty I have with this argument is, besides the use of team orders, we don’t know the other subtle ways Mercedes could use to manipulate their timing so Hamilton finishes ahead of Bottas. Bar one race, every time the Mercedes drivers have finished together has been Hamilton ahead and Bottas behind (noting that one of those occasions was by virtue of team orders), but of the 5 times they have both completed a race separated four of them have found Bottas ahead of Hamilton. One can’t but help suspect Bottas is better than the race results show.

      4. In 50 years from now, when I tell my kids/grandchildren about F1 in ‘my times’ (lol) – they won’t be hearing about Hamilton struggling to edge out the likes of Button, Rosberg and Bottas’….
        They will be hearing about how Alonso always got the most out of any car he was given, how he never finished a season on fewer points than a team mate, and was the first McLaren Honda driver since Senna to top a session or get a fastest lap.
        That’s why his name belongs in the same sentence as Senna and Prost for me.
        Drivers like Alonso/Prost/Senna will always make drivers like Button/Rosberg/Bottas look average/good but not greats by F1 standards, Hamilton has not managed to do that.
        Come on Toto, give Alonso a shot! Let him put Hamilton in that Button/Rosberg/Bottas’ category once and for all!!

    10. I still think Hamilton will retire at the end of this year if he misses out on the WDC (again).

      1. Fingers crossed !!!

      2. I agree, and Wolff has always said Alonso would be his first choice replacement…
        Come on Valtteri!!
        (ahem…cough…cough) no, no, I’m not an Alonso fan 😉

    11. as a Hamilton fan, I don’t know what I’ll do if he ends up driving for the evil empire in 2019. The Mercedes change was strange enough for me since I only started watching F1 in 2007, but after all this time, i don’t think I can stomach cheering for a red car.

      1. @lancer033 I felt the exact same thing when Alonso joined the reds but eventually got accustomed. Thing is, I actually don’t care much about teams and focus on drivers so it helps.

    12. “In its recent history Ferrari has shied away from hiring anyone who wasn’t a proven race winner. That leaves them with few options even if they wanted to replace Raikkonen.” Based on how they run their team, Kimi is not a proven race winner!! If he was at Mercedes he would be allowed to win.

    13. Alonso needs to stay put for next year with Honda power…Honda is coming right…which will hopefully be proofed at Spa…at least he will have made some good history being part of Honda coming back into F1…they need to be on the podium next year…then it would have been worth it…for me anyways…

      1. Spa will be yet another appalling performance for Honda. Spec 3 gave some tenths that’s all. They still have a 2/2.5 seconds gap on power circuits and I don’t see how they can close that gap anytime soon.

        I predict Honda to remain dead last in 2018 in terms of PU performance. I hope I’m wrong but there’s no encouraging signs (Hungary just show how decent the McLaren chassis is, nothing more). I mean, they should be solid 4th in WCC to hope for podiums next year.

        1. @spoutnik real talk. Unfortunate for the fans but accurate.

      2. I’m sorry to say it as I’m an Alonso fan, but he’s in bother if he’s still at McHonda next year. I think next year’s McLaren will be the slowest on the grid. Renault are going places, and with current year Renault PUs for Toro Rosso and current year Ferrari PUs for Sauber (plus LeClerc and Giovinazzi) next year, I can see a more competitive Sauber.
        So assuming Haas and Williams do a decent chassis I strongly suspect McLaren will be the slowest…I hope I’m wrong and that Honda pull off an awesome engine, but I just can’t stay hopeful for them any longer.

    14. I would love nothing more than a Alonso and Vettel lineup at Ferrari! Just not at McLaren.

      1. Haha that would be epic!

        1. Certainly would…so would Alonso-Hamilton

    15. I am not sure if Vettel wanted just a year extension….or if the team wanted the year????
      His body language indicates he is not that relaxed in Ferrari compared to Red Bull
      However I cannot see him partnering Hamilton…it would develop into open warfare { good for us though}…so should Hamilton stay at Mercedes after next season, then I see some sort of swap that would take him back to Red Bull…..

      1. After the way Vettel ‘dumped’ Red Bull the first chance he got to race for another top team in 2015, I don’t think they’d take him back… especially when they have drivers like Ricciardo, Verstappen and Sainz Jr on the cards…
        But I can see what you’re thinking…
        I don’t think either Hamilton or Vettel can win championships in cars that aren’t comfortably the quickest (that’s why I’m loving this year!!)
        I don’t think either the Ferrari or Merc is comfortably the quickest….

        That’s why my money’s on Bottas 😉

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