In Formula 1, the rumour mill traditionally bubbles away all summer; the so-called “Silly Season”. Names are mentioned, those who fear to lose their precious seat and those who are aiming for a better team.
Below are some F1 drivers names of interest, either with their move done (ahem Gasly), or drivers who carry with them a decent dose of rumour and intrigue.
Gasly jettisoned back to Toro Rosso
The rumor has been confirmed: After 12 of 21 races Red Bull pulls the ripcord and takes Pierre Gasly’s cockpit away. The Frenchman is transported to Toro Rosso during the summer break, where he takes Alex Albon’s place. The 23-year-old rookie moves up to Red Bull and becomes Max Verstappen’s new teammate.
A temporary Red Bull Racing driver?
The promotion to Red Bull is for Alex Albon the chance to prove himself in a top car. However, Red Bull made it clear that they will only be allowed to drive alongside Max Verstappen until the end of the 2019 season.
What will happen with Albon in 2020 is still completely unknown. In addition to staying, a return to Toro Rosso is also conceivable. A change to another team seems possible too.
Hülkenberg on the way to Haas?
The 2019 season has been quite frustrating for Nico Hülkenberg so far. Starting ambitiously, the German from Emmerich has only managed two seventh places. According to team boss Cyril Abiteboul, Renault is determined not to extend the expiring contract. How would he continue in F1 then?
An alternative would be the Haas team, also underperforming in 2019. Boss Günther Steiner: “Of course Nico is interesting for us”, possibly with one eye on a certain Frenchman exiting.
Although some sources as far back as the British GP thought Grosjean was gone, at the time another possible candidate was Esteban Ocon.
Is Kevin Magnussen being thrown out of Haas?
In the 2019 season the Danish driver was very negative several times, he had a fight with his team mate Romain Grosjean and wasted valuable points. Within the team there has already been a ‘riot act’ read out to the pairing by Steiner. The fact that Magnussen will no longer sit in the Haas in 2020 is now actually quite realistic according to paddock insiders.
Vettel says yes to the get-out clause?
A Drivers Championship title with Ferrari is looking very far away for Vettel again this year. Vettel is certainly is dissatisfied with the status quo of Formula 1 and the way it’s run with the German increasingly criticising the sport.
Retirement has been mooted several times by some media. There is allegedly a clause in his contract that makes this possible at the end of 2019.
There are also rumours of a return to Red Bull boiling over the last few weeks. Read more on that here.
Bottas future open at Mercedes
Valtteri Bottas’ contract expires at the end of 2019. “It would be nice to know what the team is planning,” mentions the Finn in Germany during interviews.
Bottas has stressed that he was not nervous about his future. But he should be worried. The 29-year-old has rarely been able to convince after a strong start to the season under the so-called Bottas 2.0 guise. The question is whether Mercedes would get an adequate replacement in Ocon?
In an effort to move things along, Bottas said in interviews to the Italian press that he would certainly consider Ferrari. Read more on that here.
Ocon return for Mercedes?
Esteban Ocon would have deserved a place in Formula 1 in 2019, but didn’t find a seat. It is unlikely that the young Frenchman (22) will get away empty-handed in 2020 as well with the potential such a talent might provide.
Although Ocon is under contract with Mercedes, if there were no place for him in a silver arrow, Toto Wolff would allow Ocon to leave his contract with Mercedes, thus opening a door to a return in F1.
Fans fear the dream comeback is at an end for Kubica
Poland’s prodigal son and his comeback into F1 could only really be described as a disaster.
There is already speculation that Kubica will soon lose its place to Nicholas Lati. According to “Le Journal de Montreal” Williams has openly considered this scenario. Esteban Ocon is also being treated as a potential successor.
A possible solution could be a team change for Kubica; “There is this possibility,” says the boss of Kubica’s main sponsor, Sportowe Fakty.
Verstappen move away from Red Bull not off the table
So-called “Mad Max” wants to become world champion – at any price. But will he be in the Red Bull Honda?
At least in the short term, that’s unlikely, even though Verstappen has performed outstandingly lately. In many ways, he has actually obstructed a chance to move to Mercedes and Ferrari by his own incredible race performances.
His famous exit clause has now become unusable due to his point yield and World Championship placement. But for many, the farewell to Red Bull seems only postponed for now with a move to Mercedes very possible in 2020. Read more on that here.
Alonso come-back to a top team?
Does the self-proclaimed “Spanish Samurai” return to the top class of motorsport? Alonso has already made himself available to the top three teams for next year.
Should Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull not give the green light, which is frankly unlikely they would give a green light, Alonso will continue to seek his luck in other racing classes. The two time Champion certainly wants to compete for victories and titles, not just for points.
Schumacher debut only a matter of time
Schumacher’s big goal is and remains Formula 1. Mick has already completed his first test drives with Ferrari.
“So if I need a second season in Formula 2, I’ll do it,” the youngster explains that he doesn’t want to rush into anything.
But there’s no fixed date for staying in the junior formulae in 2020. For many in F1, the son of the record world champion would be a winner in many respects, if not on track but in PR. The question seems to be not if, but when Mick will get a seat.
New talent headed to Toro Rosso?
The name Patricio O’Ward still only means something to a few fans of motorsport, mostly across the pond. But that could change soon.
Red Bull has signed the 20-year-old Mexican with an F1 entry via Toro Rosso being the ultimate goal.
“He impresses with speed and car control. We got wind that McLaren was on him. So we had to act,” Helmut Marko told Austria’s Speedweek publication.
Auer from the DTM to the Red Bull?
Alternatively Lucas Auer could become part of the Red Bull family. Read more on this.
Gerhard Berger’s nephew has been under contract with the Austrian Energy drink brand since the end of last year. If Pierre Gasly’s place at Toro Rosso were to split up and Daniil Kvyat move up to Red Bull in 2020, a free place at Toro Rosso would also be an option for Auer.