F1 Silly Season has had a bit of a slow start in 2019. A number of seats are in play next year but ultimately Mercedes holds the biggest key to silly season. Second driver Valtteri Bottas is in a contract year with Mercedes and the team would like to see him increase his performance. A decision on his future is expected by the end of the summer break.
Once Mercedes decides what they will do the rest of silly season will take off or remain dormant. Much like most things in F1 lately, everything is in Mercedes’ hands.
F1 journalist Mark Hughes made some headlines during the summer break when he said this as his bold prediction on Formula1.com;
MH: Another one? Errrm, the tectonic plate movement in the driver market. Something big is brewing. Two sensational moves.
What Are These Tectonic Moves?
Max Verstappen to Mercedes – Arguably the hottest young talent to come into the sport since Lewis Hamilton in 2007, Max is viewed as a multi-time World Champ in the waiting. Red Bull currently don’t have a car for him to challenge Mercedes over the course of a full season.
If Mercedes lets Valtteri Bottas leave at the end of the 2019 season Max Verstappen is at the top of their list. There is a rumor floating around that Mercedes is willing to pay him $30M a year. That would give them two #1 drivers and two #1 driver salaries. It would also set Mercedes up for continued success when Lewis Hamilton decides to step away in the future. On top of that, it would give everyone the battles they’ve clamored for.
Sebastian Vettel to Red Bull – Of all the rumors this one feels like the most realistic one. Sebastian is clearly not happy at Ferrari and who could blame him. They’re getting spanked by Mercedes in every aspect. Ferrari’s pit wall remains the dumbest on pit lane, their car isn’t as good as advertised and Charles Leclerc is chomping at the bit.
Red Bull is Seb’s safe haven. He visits their hospitality compound seemingly every weekend. The German wants to go home as his career begins to wind down. Maybe they can find the magic one last time.
Fernando Alonso To Ferrari or Red Bull – Fernando Alonso is going to compete in next year’s Dakar Rally but that’s the only definitive thing on his schedule. That could point to a return to F1.
Red Bull is a massive longshot for Alonso considering their affiliation with Honda. However, if they lose Max the team will likely want a veteran in the car to help with development.
Ferrari would make the most sense. The Scuderia would be left with a driver heading into his third year and one that has never lead development on a car. Alonso had good years with Ferrari but ultimately fell victim to the same thing Vettel has. Having said that, if Alonso wants one last chance to win in F1 this is it.
Chances Any Of This Happen?
30% chance Max goes to Mercedes. His Red Bull contract has an out clause however he’s too high in the standings to enact it. Money talks though.
50% chance Seb heads back to Red Bull
25% chance Fernando returns to the grid.
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