Formula One season 2018 is nearing its final stages and there are only five seats left before the flag goes down at Abu Dhabi on November 25. The F1 teams have already started working on the strategies for the 2019 season and drivers are certainly the most important one of the lot.
Unlike the previous seasons, Formula One in 2019 will see massive driver changes. This season has seen one of the wildest and most unpredictable driver markets in recent years. The latest twist is the return of Russian driver Daniil Kvyat to Toro Rosso after he was snubbed by the team for the ongoing season. Ahead of the Russian Grand Prix last Sunday, Haas has also confirmed its driver line-ups and the USA-based team decided to continue with the current duo.
That leaves only five race seats for the 2019 season. However, there are over a half dozen drivers waiting for these slots. We have compiled all you need to know about Formula One season 2019 driver line-ups so far.
Mercedes- Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas
Among the top teams, Mercedes-AMG Petronas will continue with the current drivers. British driver Lewis Hamilton is on the verge to become champion in 2018 and has contracted with the UK based team till the end of 2020. Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas will continue to be his teammate for 2019 while his contract has the option to continue with the team till 2020 season as well.
Ferrari- Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc
Star driver of the Italian team, Sebastian Vettel will continue with Scuderia Ferrari till the end of 2020 as per current contract. The German driver will drive alongside new recruit Charles Leclerc. The 20-year-old Monegasque had a stellar season with Sauber in 2018 and that aided him to Ferrari for 2019.
Renault – Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg
French team Renault has retained German driver Nico Hulkenberg for 2019. They have also roped in Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull in a two-year deal that will see the Australian staying with the team till the end of 2020.
Red Bull- Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly
Max Verstappen will remain Aston Martin Red Bull Racing's lead driver. The 21-year old Dutch racing driver has contracted with Red Bull till 2020. For 2019, Pierre Gasly will join Max after Australian Danial Ricciardo's exit. The 22-year-old Gasly currently drives Red Bull's junior team Toro Rosso and impressed everyone with some results this season.
Haas – Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean
Haas F1 Team has decided to stick with the current driver duo- Kevin Magnussen of Denmark and Romain Grosjean of France. Haas is currently fifth in the constructors' standings for 2018 season and the hierarchy in the team seems to be happy with the current two.
McLaren – Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris
McLaren, in a bid to regain its lost mojo, has brought in two drivers. Carlos Sainz Jr replaced former Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso who decided not to race in F1 the next season. Meanwhile, the 18-year-old driver from Somerset, UK, Lando Norris will replace Stoffel Vandoorne and has signed a multi-year deal with the Woking-based outfit.
Sauber – Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi
Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team also has a new driver line up. The Switzerland-based outfit signed former world champion Kimi Raikkonen for two-year after a swap deal with Ferrari for Leclerc. Sauber has also recruited Ferrari reserve Antonio Giovinazzi to race alongside Kimi for 2019.
Toro Rosso- Daniil Kvyat and 'to be confirmed'
Daniil Kvyat, the Russian driver who lost both his seat at Toro Rosso and his Red Bull backing in 2017 season will return to Toro Rosso next year. The team has re-signed Kvyat after current driver Pierre Gasly got promoted to Red Bull for 2019. Torro Rosso is yet to confirm whether Brendon Hartley will retain his seat with the team for 2019.
Force India – To be confirmed
Force India which got renamed Racing Point Force India in the middle of the season after an ownership change is yet to announce the drivers for 2019. Mexican driver Sergio Perez who is driving with the team from 2014 is expected to be retained. Meanwhile, his current teammate Esteban Ocon likely lose the seat as Lance Stroll is touted to be another driver destined for Force India next year.
Williams- To be confirmed
Williams is also tight-lipped about their drivers for 2019. Lance Stroll is inching closer to Force India move and hence Esteban Ocon may find a seat in Williams. Current driver, Sergey Sirotkin is in the fray to stay on for another season. Meanwhile, Russian driver Artem Markelov, Mercedes junior George Russell, who is currently leading the F2 standings and Robert Kubica are also reportedly in the radar of Williams.