Silly Season: Red Bull hold the key to a crazy driver market

22-10-2020 11:09 | Updated: 22-10-2020 12:31
F1 News
Silly Season: Red Bull hold the key to a crazy driver market

The 2020 Formula 1 season has pretty much already been decided, but the action off the track is a lot more exciting. Silly Season is full of surprises this year and with the departure of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean announced on Thursday, we are far from finished.

Even before the start of the season

It all started this year before the season even started. Sebastian Vettel had to leave Ferrari, Carlos Sainz replaced him and Daniel Ricciardo made a move to McLaren. All before the on-track action had even started and this was just a taste.

With the Vettel to Aston Martin deal, the arrival of Fernando Alonso to Renault and the departure of Magnussen and Grosjean, the changes for 2021 continue to pile up. In addition, we are not there yet, because with Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, there are even more drivers on the market.

Let's start with the teams that are already ready: Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Racing Point. Those four teams have confirmed their line-up for 2021 and Williams seemed to belong to this list as well. However, the freed Perez still seems an option for Williams, starting rumours now that George Russell is looking for a seat with another team. We can probably add Mercedes to this list because with Valtteri Bottas already signed, it seems like only a matter of time before Lewis Hamilton also renews his contract.

Red Bull holds the key

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The key to the transfer market seems to be in the hands of Red Bull, which has to make a choice. Max Verstappen is a certainty at Red Bull Racing, but the rest is still open. Even the strong performing Pierre Gasly does not seem 100 per cent sure of his seat at AlphaTauri after previously reported internal struggles.

Alexander Albon is now sitting next to Verstappen, but he has shown in a year and a half that he is not good enough. Helmut Marko doesn't seem to be considering a return from Gasly and so Perez and Hulkenberg come into the picture. Experience next to Verstappen cannot hurt, but what effect does that have on AlphaTauri, where Gasly and Albon have to drive together, while Yuki Tsunoda is also linked to that team. Which of the three has to leave?

Russian influence at Haas

With Gasly or Albon on the market, an extra driver will have to be released, but there are not many places available.Haas lets both drivers leave and in all likelihood will choose Nikita Mazepin. Will this be an all-Russian team with Daniil Kvyat or Robert Shwartzman or will there be room for Hulkenberg, Perez, Callum Ilott or Mick Schumacher at Haas.

In any case, Haas has a lot to choose, which also applies to Alfa Romeo. A luxury position for the teams that normally do not have a real negotiating position with their place in the championship. At Alfa Romeo, Kimi Raikkonen is said to be allowed to determine his own future, so that one seat can be competed.

Antonio Giovinazzi seems to have lost that place. With the released Perez and Hulkenberg and talents Shwartzman, Schumacher and Ilott, Alfa has enough choice to replace the mediocre Giovinazzi. Who will get the seat next to Kimi is still the question and what if Kimi leaves? Is there still an experienced man to come and maybe Magnussen and Grosjean are still an option?

Forecast for 2021

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton

Valtteri Bottas

Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen

Nico Hulkenberg

Ferrari

Charles Leclerc

Carlos Sainz

McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo

Lando Norris

Renault

Fernando Alonso

Esteban Ocon

Racing Point

Sebastian Vettel

Lance Stroll

AlphaTauri

Alexander Albon

Pierre Gasly

Alfa Romeo

Kimi Raikkonen

Mick Schumacher

Haas

Nikita Mazepin

Sergio Perez

Williams

George Russell

Nicholas Latifi

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