Sunday, 28 September 2014

The 2015 driver market taking shape

Jenson Button in the garage.
(McLaren Mercedes)

There are five Grand Prix remaining in 2014 and there are still a number of unknowns for 2015 mainly who goes where? There have been a number of rumors in recent days and weeks surrounding the future of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and his plans for next season however the Spaniard will without doubt remain at Ferrari next season. Alonso has contract with team until the end of the 2016 season.

So this is what we know for certain:

Mercedes have both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg locked into contracts for the 2015. Rosberg signed a long term contract over the Summer and with Hamilton in the middle of a three year deal it is strongly believed that the team will sit down with him next season and thrash out a long term contract with the 2008 world champion.

Reigning world champions Infiniti Red Bull Racing have Sebastian Vettel under contract until at least the end of next season. Daniel Ricciardo, who joined the Milton Keynes based outfit for the 2014 season having replaced Mark Webber is under a long term contract with Red Bull and following a sensational season so far with the team is certain to remain with them in 2015.

Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci has confirmed that both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen will remain with the Italian team in 2015 despite Alonso been linked with a move back to McLaren who he drove for in 2007. However this is not the case and he will remain with the Prancing Horse. Kimi Raikkonen stated that he will finish his F1 career with Ferrari but has refused to be drawn on when that will be.

At Sahara Force India, Nico Hulkenberg is tied in to a deal for next season and possibly beyond then while as his deal for 2014 was a last minute one, Sergio 'Checco' Perez is set to remain with the team next season following what has been a fantastic season for the Mexican.

At the Italian Grand Prix in Monza at the start of September, Williams Martini Racing confirmed that Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa will remain with the Grove based outfit who have had an absolutely incredible season in 2014 and currently find themselves in third place in the Constructors championship.

The Toro Rosso team have Daniil Kvyat and F1 rookie Max Verstappen in place for next season. Verstappen replaces Frenchman Jean Eric Vergne who is now searching for a drive elsewhere.

McLaren Mercedes make the move to Honda power next season and with both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen yet to be confirmed for next season speculation has been rife throughout the season about Button's Formula One future. However the 2009 champion has recently hinted that he will be extending his stay at Woking for the 2015 season while it is likely that Magnussen who was promoted by the team this season will also be retained for next season.

It is unclear what the Sauber F1 Team will do regarding their 2015 line-up with the team's test driver Sergey Siroktin set to drive a Free Practice session for the Swiss based outfit at the inaugural Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi circuit next month with Adrian Sutil's future with the team uncertain.

The Lotus F1 Team have confirmed that Pastor Maldonado will remain with the Enstone outfit next season while it is also likely that Romain Grosjean will remain with the team despite venting his frustration with the outfit recently as the Frenchman's only possible competitive drive for next season could be McLaren Honda next season as he has worked with McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier during their time together at the Lotus F1 Team.

It is unlikely that Grosjean will head from Enstone to Woking as McLaren are likely to retain Button and Magnussen so that leaves a stay at the Lotus F1 Team the most likely outcome.

The Caterham F1 Team have stated that they are in talks with Marcus Ericsson over extending his current race deal into the 2015 season while it not yet known what the future holds for Kamui Kobayashi.

Finally at the Marussia F1 Team it is uncertain what the future holds for the Banbury based outfit it not yet known what the future has in store for their drivers Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton.

© Ben Johnston 2014

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