Likely one of only two remaining seats on the grid that could be of interest to the German [given both Mercedes drivers are out of contract at the end of the year, although with Lewis Hamilton almost certain to agree a new deal]. Vettel will likely be talked about frequently with regard to this move but it is one that seems unlikely at best. When leaving Ferrari, Vettel spoke of being able "to reflect on what are our real priorities in life" over the past months. With a young family including three children, Vettel sounded like a man who would be at peace with leaving the sport behind.
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Could Alonso be enticed back to F1 by a return to Renault? The Spaniard already has two spells with the Enstone team on his CV - from 2003-06, during which time he won both his world titles, and again from 2008-09. A lot has changed behind the scenes, of course, but Alonso would represent a marquee name to replace Ricciardo.
A return would mark two years away from the sport, and at the age of 39, it may count against him. He recently said that he "more or less" knew what he would be doing in 2021, with an announcement due "soon". Is he willing for one last hurrah in F1?
Had the 2020 season progressed as planned, it is likely Zhou would have been the number one pick for this seat. A member of the Renault junior team, Zhou impressed in his maiden F2 campaign, finishing seventh in the standings, scoring five podium finishes along the way. As a Chinese driver, Zhou also has the appeal of being able to help Renault to dramatically increase car sales in the region. In his comments after Ricciardo's departure, Abiteboul talked about the "critical values for a works team". Signing Zhou would certainly show a synergy between the F1 outfit and the Renault road car efforts.
You can be sure that, as soon as it was announced that Ricciardo was leaving the team, Hulkenberg picked up the phone and reminded Abiteboul he was available.
The German drove for Renault between 2017 and 2019 but lost his seat for 2020 due to the arrival of Esteban Ocon. As a 'quick fix', Renault could do a lot worse than re-employ this solid pair of hands.
Bottas again finds himself in the same situation as he has done for the past couple of seasons - wondering if he has a future with Mercedes beyond the end of the year.
Bottas has done enough to retain his seat each time, but now knows Vettel is on the market and will likely pose a threat should the 32-year-old German push for joining Mercedes. Renault would certainly welcome someone of Bottas' ability, with the Finn - like Hulkenberg - representing a safe pair of hands, as well as someone who could mentor former Mercedes reserve Esteban Ocon.
Before you go...
OFFICIAL: Sainz replaces Vettel at Ferrari (click here)
OFFICIAL: Ricciardo signs multi-year agreement with McLaren (click here)
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