Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas have extended their contracts to race with Mercedes for next year.
Mercedes become the first team on the F1 grid to have secured both their drivers for 2019.
Revealed on the 19th, Hamilton confirmed after months of speculation that he had re-signed with Mercedes enabling the Brit to race with the German team for the next two years.
Hamilton’s deal is reportedly worth £40 million annually and if accurate, this will maintain the 4 time world champion’s status as the the highest-paid British sportsman.
Hamilton joined Mercedes in 2013, after leaving McLaren in 2012, and has since secured 3 world title in 2014, 2015 and 2017.
Less than 24 hours after the deal between Hamilton and Mercedes was confirmed, Mercedes also confirmed that Valterri Bottas was also going to be kept for 2019 with an option to stay on for 2020.
Bottas signed for Mercedes in early 2017 in replace of 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg, who’d retired from the sport just a week after he’d won the title in Abu Dhabi.
What does this mean for the driver market?
With Hamilton and Bottas confirmed for next year, the next piece of the puzzle is likely to come very soon.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo had been linked with either a move to the Silver Arrows or Ferrari and even McLaren at one stage but with Red Bull signing an agreement with Honda with the Japanese company supplying engines to Red Bull, Ricciardo is set to stay along-side Max Verstappen for next year.
The next piece which is likely to fall next is whether Ferrari renew Kimi Raikkonen’s contract or they sign Charles Leclerc to partner Sebastian Vettel for next year. Raikkonen is performing well and has taken 7 podium finishes so far this year while Leclerc, who is in his debut year in F1, is impressing at Sauber.
Behind the top 3 teams, there is still a lot of deciding to do with as the mid-field could look very different next year.
Nico Hulkenberg looks to be staying with Renault for next year but who will partner him looks like to be between 4 drivers. Current driver Carlos Sainz Jr, Force India’s Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez or quite possibly McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.
At Haas, Kevin Magnussen is likely to stay but team-mate Romain Grosjean’s future with the American team is undecided. Grosjean, Force India’s Sergio Perez, Leclerc, Sainz and Antonio Giovinazzi are all in the frame to partner the Dane.
The biggest change could happen at McLaren. McLaren want Alonso to stay but does the Spaniard want to stay? His future is undecided. Stoffel Vandoorne’s seat looks to be under threat as the Belgian is having a difficult season so far. Raikkonen, Sainz, Perez and Lando Norris are linked to the team for next year.
Possible 2019 Driver-Line-ups
- Ferrari: Vettel & Raikkonen/Leclerc
- Red Bull: Verstappen & Ricciardo/Sainz/Gasly
- Renault: Hulkenberg & Sainz/Ocon/Alonso/Perez
- Force India: Perez & Ocon/Kubica/Wehrlein/Russell/Stroll
- Haas: Magnussen & Grosjean/Perez/Leclerc/Giovinazzi/Sainz
- Williams: Stroll & Sirotkin, Sirotkin & Kubica/Russell/Wehrlein
- Toro Rosso: Gasly & Hartley/Norris/Ticktum/Sainz
- Sauber: Leclerc & Ericsson, Ericsson & Raikkonen/Giovinazzi/Perez, Raikkonen & Giovinazzi
- McLaren: Alonso & Vandoorne/Norris/Sainz/Perez/Ricciardo/Raikkonen, Vandoorne & Norris/Sainz/Perez/Raikkonen