How the 2019 F1 grid is shaping up

With the top three teams closing in on agreeing deals for 2019, we look at how the whole grid is shaping up for 2019. This article will be updated with paddock rumours and once drivers are confirmed by teams.


Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are now confirmed at the team for 2019. Hamilton's contract extends to a second year while the team has an option on Bottas in 2020. It was unlikely the deals would extend beyond 2020 as Mercedes itself has not yet committed to a new commercial contract for 2021 and beyond. Bottas will likely be retained for the second year if he continues to perform.


After Sebastian Vettel committed his future to the team with a three-year deal last season, there is only one place up for grabs at Ferrari in 2019. Kimi Raikkonen has occupied that seat since 2014, but he looks set to be replaced by Ferrari junior and Sauber race driver Charles Leclerc. Raikkonen has faced questions over his future before, but this time the stories are emanating from Maranello and appear to be more substantiated than in the past.

There were rumours a Leclerc/Raikkonen swap could come as early as Spa, but that would not have made sense for either Leclerc -- who is flourishing in his debut year with Sauber -- or Ferrari, which currently leads the constructors' championship thanks to Raikkonen outscoring Bottas at Mercedes. However, the likelihood is that Raikkonen's time at Ferrari -- and therefore his time in F1 -- will come to an end with the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi.

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo was seen as the key to the 2018 driver market at the start of the season and he has finally made his move with the announcement he will join Renault next year. It came as a surprise given Renault's relative competitiveness compared to Red Bull, but Ricciardo is clearly banking on the long-term competitiveness of the French manufacturer. Max Verstappen, meanwhile, is signed to Red Bull until the end of 2020 and the speculation now turns to who will partner him next year. Carlos Sainz seems like the obvious choice given that he is still under contract at Red Bull and currently on loan to Renault, but Pierre Gasly is also tipped to be in with a good chance after an impressive start to his F1 career at Toro Rosso. But with no offiicial announcement there is still speculation over Red Bull's second seat for 2019.

Force India

With the team now owned by a group of investors led by Lawrence Stroll, it's hard to imagine his son Lance Stroll won't be driving at the team next year. Initially that wouldn't have been a problem as Esteban Ocon was being lined up to drive for Renault but with Daniel Ricciardo making the switch from Red Bull to Renault that avenue has closed off. Ocon is backed by engine supplier Mercedes, which supported the change in ownership at Force India, but Sergio Perez was the one who set the wheels in motion by bringing legal action against the team.

Perez comes with financial backing in the form of sponsors while Ocon comes with a discount from the Mercedes engine deal. If Stroll does make the logical switch, the new owners will have to weigh up their options to decide who will partner the boss's son.


Both Williams and Sergey Sirotkin's backers have said the Russian is on a multiyear contract, but the exact details have never been made clear. He is thought to contribute €15 million to the team's budget and, given the team's poor start to the season, it's unlikely Williams will be able to negotiate a better financial offer from anyone else. Stroll is now expected to be on the move to Force India given his father's involvement in the new ownership of the team, leaving a vacant space at the team.

Test driver Robert Kubica remains a viable option, but he will face stiff competition from Mercedes-backed drivers Esteban Ocon and George Russell. Kubica insists Williams isn't his only option for 2019, but it's hard to see where else he would fit in. Ocon and Russell stake their claim to the remaining Williams seats through Mercedes engine supply, which could become a full engine and gearbox deal in 2019. In theory Ocon should get the nod as the more senior driver if a deal is cut.


The French manufacturer has sealed one of the biggest surprises of recent years by signing Ricciardo for 2019. The news broke at the start of the summer break and just as many (including ESPN) thought Ricciardo was crossing the t's and dotting the i's on a new Red Bull contract. Nico Hulkenberg was also confirmed by the team, giving it a strong line up for 2019 but leaving Sainz out in the cold and Ocon, who was negotiating a deal with the French team, reassessing his options.

Toro Rosso

Pierre Gasly has made a strong start to what appears to be a very promising F1 career this year and could now make the move to Red Bull to replace Ricciardo as early as 2019. The knock-on effect of that is that the outlook for teammate Brendon Hartley is now much brighter as Toro Rosso could be left scrambling to find talent to fill its cars.

Ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix it emerged that Toro Rosso had approached McLaren junior Lando Norris to replace Hartley from the Austrian Grand Prix onwards, but the Italian team wanted him not only for the remainder of 2018 but also 2019 and McLaren wasn't willing to lose their option on Norris for next year. With Sainz now on the open market, perhaps a deal could be brokered to see the Spaniard join Alonso at McLaren while Norris moves to the Red Bull programme with Toro Rosso and Gasly up to the senior Red Bull team.

Red Bull's Helmut Marko has talked up Dan Ticktum as a potential candidate for a drive, but the 19-year-old Brit won't have the necessary points from junior categories to apply for an FIA superlicence by the end of this season. Even if he wins the European F3 title he will still be ten points short of the 40 required, meaning the FIA would have to bend its own rules to accommodate him.


Haas holds an option on Kevin Magnussen's services for 2019 and it would be a big surprise if it wasn't exercised. The 2018 season is the first time the Dane has driven for a team for a second consecutive season and he is thriving on the stability of that relationship with 39 points from the opening 10 races. He has no obvious options on the table elsewhere for 2019 and it seems like a no-brainer for the American team to sign him up as soon as possible.

On the other side of the garage, Romain Grosjean's future is less certain. A series of accidents have piled the pressure on the Frenchman since the start of the season and all of his 12 points came in one go with a fourth-place finish in Austria. Team boss Guenther Steiner says driver talks will start after the summer break, giving Grosjean two more races to improve his hand before sitting down at the negotiating table, but it would be surprising if Haas didn't at least explore other options before deciding on its 2019 line-up.

Kubica has been linked to the team but Steiner insists no talks have taken place.


Fernando Alonso's future remains the source of extensive speculation. His current McLaren contract is a multi-year deal, but not necessarily limited to F1. If the team follows through on plans for an IndyCar entry in 2019, it would help facilitate Alonso's pursuit of the Triple Crown by giving him another shot at the Indy 500 victory he missed out on last year. More doubt is cast over his F1 future due to a potential clash between Sebring on the World Endurance Championship calendar and the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on the weekend of March 16-17 next year. That may not seem like a difficult choice, but if he wants to complete his stated aim of winning the WEC title, he will need to prioritise Sebring over the very first race of a new season in Melbourne.

In the meantime, it seems as though McLaren is preparing for life after Alonso after it approached Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Sainz for 2019. While Ricciardo is now off the radar, Raikkonen may be tempted if the price is right. But Sainz is the most intruiging prospect and Zak Brown has confirmed the Spaniard is very much on his shortlist. Where that leaves Stoffel Vandoorne is unclear, as he would then be held purely as a potential replacement for Alonso should the Spaniard decide to stop in F1 (and that's assuming Norris doesn't get the nod ahead of him).


With Leclerc set to move to Ferrari, the improving Sauber team is becoming an increasingly attractive and available prospect for drivers in 2019. Marcus Ericsson won't get an offer elsewhere but still has strong ties with the team's owners and will be in the running to retain his drive for 2019. There are rumours Raikkonen could move back to the team that gave him his debut in 2001, but it's hard to see him agreeing to such a step backwards so late in his career.

A move that makes more sense would be for Ferrari third driver Antonio Giovinazzi to make the step up to a permanent race seat in 2019. He drove two races in place of the injured Pascal Wehrlein at the start of last year, and as an Italian from the Ferrari stable is a perfect fit for title sponsor Alfa Romeo.