Thuesday, 11 september 2018, 10:43 , by Paul Macdonald
Formula One is set to undergo its most sweeping changes in years, with various drivers swapping teams, being dropped, or even retiring. So with this much upheaval, just how is the 2019 line-up shaping up and is anything else likely to change come Melbourne in March?
Verdict: Mercedes have their team locked down for next season. Hamilton, after much speculation, has committed his future to the team, while Bottas is known to be the wingman of choice for Hamilton and the Mercedes hierarchy. They will be together for another year at least.
Verdict: Ferrari have bucked with tradition and opted for an inexperienced rookie to partner Vettel next year, but it appears Leclerc will be given a year to prove he deserves to be operating at the highest level. Vettel's relationship with the Monegasque is also likely to have a huge bearing on his future.
Verdict: Red Bull have leapt on the Max Verstappen train, much to the chagrin of Daniel Ricciardo, who got tired of playing second fiddle to the Dutchman. With Ricciardo decamping to Renault, Gasly has been rewarded for his Toro Rosso performances with a promotion, and the dynamic between the drivers will be among the most interesting things to watch in the 2019 season.
Verdict: Renault have made their ambitions clear by securing Hulkenberg for the next two years and partnering him with Daniel Ricciardo, and the constructor have much to prove to the Aussie that their car has the capacity to compete at the sharp end of the grid on a regular basis. Should it prove another false dawn, Ricciardo may have his attentions distracted sooner rather than later.
Verdict: If there's likely to be any major overhaul it could come at Haas. Magnussen is well-liked by the team if a little outspoken, though his seat isn't 100% secure, while Grosjean's nightmarish start to the season put him under serious pressure but his subsequent recovery means they may - may - choose to give him another chance. But nothing at all is settled yet and the remaining races this season could have a real bearing on the future of these two.
Verdict: All the focus at Force India has been ensuring that there is even a team to compete next season, so they are some way from confirming their selections. But Sergio Perez, despite flirting with McLaren, is highly likely to remain, while the impending takeover by Lance Stroll's father is likely to mean that his son is guaranteed a seat. In that scenario Ocon becomes the odd man out, though there may be opportunities for him elsewhere.
Carlos Sainz - Contracted until 2019
Lando Norris -- Contracted until 2019
Verdict: McLaren have opted for an overhaul for 2019, some of it enforced. Fernando Alonso's patience with their regular DNF's finally ran out, with the former world champion deciding to take what may prove to be a permanent sabbatical. He will be replaced by Carlos Sainz, while they will swap out one rookie for another; Stoffel Vandoorne hasn't quite hit the mark and his drive will go to the young but highly-rated Lando Norris.
Brendon Hartley - Unconfirmed
No 2nd driver confirmed
Verdict: Toro Rosso are facing up to a complete overhaul. Pierre Gasly's promotion to Red Bull has left a position available, potentially two, considering Brendon Hartley's far from stellar form this season has been met with severe skepticism by chief Helmut Marko. Marko has hinted that he has a shortlist of 10 names available, currently headed by Daniil Kyvat, though the likes of Vandoorne and Ocon are likely to be on it as their spots at other teams look to be in jeopardy. It's unlikely a decision will be made soon, so Hartley may still have some time to save his seat.
Verdict: After the incendiary news of Raikkonen's arrival on a two-year deal, replacing the Ferrari-bound Leclerc, Sauber appear set for next year; Ericsson is highly thought of in team circles and could make an interesting mix with Kimi's wealth of experience.
Lance Stroll - Unconfirmed
Sergey Sirtokin - Unconfirmed
Verdict: Things can't really get much worse for Williams, whose performances have been so poor that their continued relevance in the sport is up for debate. They need something to happen for them, and with Stroll all but certain to join up with his father at Force India, a spot will be available. Sirotkin is likely to be retained even if that decision is purely financial, his backing offering support to one of the tightest budgets in F1. For the other seat, few would grudge Robert Kubica a complete return after his career-threatening hand and arm injury. But he is likely to face a degree of competition for that spot, with Ocon and Vandoorne circling.