The 2020 Formula 1 jigsaw is coming together. See our team-by-team guide for the latest driver line-up news and analysis
While Mercedes, Renault and Racing Point might have settled their driver conundrums over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, there is still a great deal of speculation over the rest of the grid.
Rumours and whisperings from the paddock indicate there could still be a shock on the cards but, as the season surges on, time is running out for drivers to secure their futures for the 2020 Formula 1 season.
A number of options remain available for teams up and down the grid, and performances in the next few races could determine who is offered a seat and who is left looking for another drive.
Here is a rundown of the latest news and rumours surrounding the remaining seats on the F1 grid and who could be lining up on the grid come Melbourne next year.
Mercedes has a decision to make as to who will fill the second seat for 2020 Photo: Motorsport Images
2020 line-up confirmed: Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas
Mercedes confirmed its driver line-up for the 2020 season ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, ending months of speculation as to who would partner Lewis Hamilton next season.
Valtteri Bottas will remain with the team in 2020 after Mercedes exercised a one-year extension clause in his contract to keep him alongside the reigning world champion.
Reserve driver Esteban Ocon had been linked with the seat but was announced as a Renault driver for 2020 hours after Bottas was confirmed at Mercedes.
Read more: Bottas’ confirmation a clue to Mercedes’ long-term F1 plans
Ferrari’s line-up is strong. But is it secure? Photo: Motorsport Images
It takes only one driver change to set off a chain reaction and there are a number of potential triggers this season – not least Sebastian Vettel.
The German and Charles Leclerc are contracted to Ferrari for 2020, at least on paper, but Vettel’s recently patchy performances have led to him being linked with a potential return to Red Bull, for whom he won four straight titles between 2010 and 2013. Unlikely, perhaps, but the Austrian-owned team has a few gaps in its driver development chain at the moment.
Should Vettel make the unexpected move his seat could be filled by Daniel Ricciardo, whose Renault contract allegedly contains a break clause in the event that a Ferrari seat becomes available.
Read more: Is Sebastian Vettel the key in the F1 driver market?
Very much Max Verstappen’s team, the question is who do Red Bull put alongside the Dutchman? Photo: Motorsport Images
Growing momentum, a consistent, race-winning engine and a contract that runs to the end of 2020 seem certain to keep Max Verstappen at Red Bull next season.
Vettel’s situation notwithstanding, the identity of the Dutchman’s team-mate will only become clearer once rookie Alex Albon’s pace in a Red Bull has been assessed. If he can continue the good form that he showed with Toro Rosso, and improve on what the recently demoted Pierre Gasly was able to do in the first 12 races of this season, he’ll have a chance to influence his own future career direction.
If he can’t, might professional yo-yo Daniil Kvyat earn a second promotion to Red Bull’s senior team? Or could Vettel spring a surprise and oblige both of them to spend a further season with its official academy?
Read more: Albon’s Red Bull promotion is the start of his battle
The duo of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris have been the breath of fresh air McLaren desperately needed Photo: Motorsport Images
2020 line-up confirmed: Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris
McLaren’s ongoing rejuvenation, aided by 2019 recruits Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, meant the British team was swift to confirm that it would be retaining both of them.
Lying fourth in the championship for constructors ahead of the summer break, with almost twice as many points as closest suitor Toro Rosso, McLaren is on course for its best season since 2012 – and its announcement ended rumours that Fernando Alonso might be in line to rejoin.
Read more: Norris and Sainz confirmed for McLaren in 2020
Alexander Albon’s Red Bull performance in the second half of 2019 could determine who is at Toro Rosso next year Photo: Motorsport Images
Toro Rosso’s revolving-doors driver policy can be bewildering – particularly the case in recent times, when its own young driver scheme has failed to produce suitably qualified candidates.
Pierre Gasly’s return after his relegation from Red Bull offers him the chance to recapture the form he sometimes showed in 2018 – that stellar run to fourth in Bahrain, for instance – and give him the chance to rebuild his career in familiar surroundings.
True to form, though, there’s no certainty over who will fill either of the team’s seats in 2020.
Read more: F1 dreams dashed: the drivers dropped by Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo’s future looks fairly set in stone but could the Australian have a new team-mate next season? Photo: Motorsport Images
2020 line-up confirmed: Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon
Esteban Ocon has been confirmed as a Renault driver for 2020, replacing Nico Hülkenberg who was out of contract at the end of the year.
Ocon showed flashes of great speed during two seasons with Force India, even though team-mate Sergio Pérez outscored him. He has an impressive CV, though, having won the 2014 FIA F3 Championship as a rookie (beating Max Verstappen, among others) and following up by lifting the following season’s GP3 title.
The French manufacturer has endured a disappointing start to the season, but Daniel Ricciardo didn’t expect to be fighting for wins when he signed – this year or even next — so he’s likely to remain until at least 2021, unless Ferrari comes calling.
Read more: Esteban Ocon signs with Renault for 2020 F1 season
Kimi Räikkönen’s season has been superb but the second seat is where Alfa Romeo could go bold Photo: Motorsport Images
Kimi Räikkönen is moving towards the halfway point of a two-year contract with the Swiss team, but Antonio Giovinazzi’s future looks a little less secure and could hinge upon what happens over the balance of the season. In the first 12 races, the Finnish veteran had outscored his 25-year-old team-mate by 31 points to one.
The second Alfa seat could become a natural fit for members of the Ferrari Driver Academy, which currently includes F2 racers Mick Schumacher, Giuliano Alesi and Callum Ilott, plus F3 front-runners Marcus Armstrong and Robert Schwarzmann (and, farther down the food chain, Emerson Fittipaldi’s grandson Enzo). Schumacher recently notched up his maiden F2 win, in the Budapest sprint race, but previous inconsistencies had left him outside the championship’s top 10 ahead of the summer break.
Don’t rule out Marcus Ericsson either. The Swede is currently Alfa’s reserve driver and brings substantial funding to the team.
Racing Point’s line-up will remain unchanged for 2020, with Perez (left) and Stroll Photo: Motorsport Images
2020 line-up confirmed: Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll
After a strong run of form between 2013 and 2017 when, as Force India, it punched above its weight by finishing in the top six every year in the world championship for constructors (peaking with two fourth places), the rebranded team has sailed under the radar in its first full season under new ownership. Lance Stroll has been soundly trounced by team-mate Sergio Perez in qualifying, but has made amends with some stronger race performances and currently leads the Mexican in the championship standings. In a team partly owned by his father, his future is as secure as anyone’s.
Pérez brings useful sponsorship and it was no surprise when he announced that he has extended his current contract by three years, despite rumours of a potential switch to Haas.
Read more: Sergio Perez signs three-year contract with Racing Point
Photo: Motorsport Images
The propensity of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean to collide with each other, in even the most promising situations, leaves both sweating on their futures.
Magnussen’s consistency means he’s the more likely to stay with the team – but a vacant Haas seat, should one become available, would be one of the most coveted in the paddock. Could this be a refuge for Nico Hülkenberg, who is currently without a contract for next year?
Photo: Motorsport Images
Mostly anchored to the back row of the grid, Williams has at least had a shining light in the form of George Russell. It’s always hard to assess a driver’s full potential in a car as uncompetitive as the Williams FW42, but Russell has performed consistently and with dignity in a difficult situation. A better barometer might be to cast an eye back to his 2018 F2 season, when he beat fellow F1 rookies Norris and Albon to the title; they scored five victories between them while he accumulated seven… and might have fared even better but for technical misfortunes.
After eight seasons away from F1, following a rally accident that left him with life-threatening injuries, Robert Kubica has achieved one of the greatest sporting comebacks of the modern age. His results haven’t been quite as magical as that back story, however, and his future place in the team is by no means certain – not least because of reserve driver Nicholas Latifi’s presently strong F2 form. He lies second in the championship with four race victories already to his credit.
This article has been updated as driver news emerges, so the comments below may refer to an earlier version of this page