Dec 1, 2013, 10:00 AM EDT
The driver market for the 2014 Formula One season has been a hot topic for almost six months now, having been kick-started by Mark Webber’s decision to retire from the sport and move to Porsche’s revived LMP1 programme. Following Lotus’ confirmation of Pastor Maldonado for 2014 on Friday, the final few seats are ready to be filled, meaning that we are close to knowing just who will be on the grid in Australia next March.
RED BULL RACING
Confirmed: Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo
Ricciardo was confirmed as Webber’s replacement back in September, stepping up from Toro Rosso.
Confirmed: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
More of the same for the German marque in 2014 after an impressive year.
Confirmed: Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen
Raikkonen replaces Massa to create the strongest line-up on the grid next season, but also the most volatile.
Confirmed: Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado
Money helped forge Maldonado’s move away from Williams; Grosjean could flourish as team leader.
Confirmed: Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen
Experience meets potential with this line-up, and it will be fascinating to see how Magnussen fares in 2014.
Candidates: Paul di Resta, Adrian Sutil, Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez, James Calado.
Hulkenberg is the obvious choice here, and with di Resta eyeing up a drive in IndyCar, the second seat is between Sutil and Perez.
Candidates: Esteban Gutierrez, Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez, Sergey Sirotkin, Adrian Sutil
With questions surrounding Sirotkin’s funding, the return of Perez to form an all-Mexican team with Esteban Gutierrez is perhaps the most likely line-up, although Sutil could seek refuge at Sauber should Force India drop him.
SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO
Confirmed: Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat.
Kvyat was not the obvious choice, but some impressive displays in practice at Austin and Interlagos proved that he can challenge Vergne despite his lack of experience.
Confirmed: Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa
In Massa, Williams has secured a valuable and experienced driver who should compliment the promising Bottas well.
Confirmed: Jules Bianchi
Candidates: Max Chilton, Rodolfo Gonzalez
Chilton is likely to be retained after a solid – albeit far from successful – debut season.
Candidates: Giedo van der Garde, Charles Pic, Marcus Ericsson, Heikki Kovalainen, Alexander Rossi
Kovalainen is closing on a seat, but after missing out on P10 in the constructors’, Caterham may have been forced into a rethink. GP2 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Alexander Rossi could be viable options.
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