Daniel Ricciardo’s switch to Renault has certainly upset the F1 apple cart.
The Honey Badger’s decision to quit Red Bull is the biggest surprise in the sport since Nico Rosberg’s abrupt 2016 retirement, or Sebastian Vettel’s move to Ferrari in 2014.
The fact that he decided to switch to Renault given they were not even mentioned as a possible destination for the amiable Aussie is all the more surprising.
Yet, the move to Renault, where he will join Nico Hulkenberg for the 2019 season will have serious repercussions for most of the other teams.
Well! Now that we've dropped that bombshell… We're off to enjoy the annual summer shutdown! Have a great two weeks everyone, we'll post once a day to keep you going but other than that, we're out! *runs towards the beach.*#RSspirit pic.twitter.com/79kbnLOfEQ
— Renault Sport F1 (@RenaultSportF1) August 3, 2018
We take a look at what Ricciardo’s shock move means for next year’s grid.
MERCEDES (Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas)
Bar Renault, Mercedes is the only other team that has their 2019 line-up already locked in. The Silver Arrows tied down Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at the German Grand Prix, closing one potential door for Ricciardo.
His Renault switch also probably secures the future of Bottas as the Finn will have little competition for his seat with Mercedes next year when his one-year deal expires.
FERRARI (Sebastian Vettel, TBC)
With Sebastian Vettel Ferrari’s only confirmed driver for 2019, Ricciardo’s move means the second seat at Maranello is still up for grabs.
Charles Leclerc has been rumoured as a potential replacement for Kimi Raikkonen, but it may be too soon for him to make the step up, the Monaco driver spending more time at another Ferrari-powered team and giving Raikkonen a stay of execution.
RED BULL (Max Verstappen, TBC)
With Max Verstappen as the top dog at Red Bull, a unstated truth that probably contributed to Ricciardo’s exit, it will be interesting to see who comes in as the Dutchman’s subordinate.
The logical solution would be for Red Bull-contracted Carlos Sainz to return home now that Ricciardo has made him homeless, but the memories of his not so harmonious relationship with Verstappen while at Toro Rosso presents a problem.
That could lead to a promotion for Pierre Gasly.
FORCE INDIA (TBC, TBC)
The Force India driver line-up will depend on who rescues the troubled team.
Should Lance Stroll’s billionaire father stump up the cash then expect Stroll junior to be in the pink.
Sergio Perez is out of contract, but with his strong financial backing he is likely to stay.
Esteban Ocon is an entirely different matter. Long expected to go to Renault, that is now no longer an option. With Mercedes powered seats at a premium, his options are limited.
MCLAREN (TBC, TBC)
Fernando Alonso holds the key to what will happen in Woking.
A shock return to Ferrari is probably out of the question, but as we all know Alonso has other options available outside of F1.
Should he stay he could be part of an all Spanish lineup alongside Carlos Sainz if McLaren gets its way, which would mean curtains for the struggling Stoffel Vandoorne.
Another alternative is Lando Norris, although the British youngster may have to be patient.
— Lando Norris (@LandoNorris) August 2, 2018
HAAS (TBC, TBC)
With both seats vacant at the end of the season, Kevin Magnussen would be most likely to be retained given Romain Grosjean’s troubled year.
Charles Leclerc could also end up at Haas, if Ferrari decide to pass on him.
WILLIAMS (TBC, TBC)
Lance Stroll’s future at Williams will obviously hinge on the situation over at Force India.
Despite not scoring a point, Sergey Sirotkin could also hold onto his seat thanks to some gritty showings amid tough circumstances and financial demands.
Williams could send Esteban Ocon to Grove, while GP2’s George Russell is another possibility.
— Toro Rosso (@ToroRosso) July 31, 2018
TORO ROSSO (TBC, TBC)
Pierre Gasly will be a lock should he be overlooked by Red Bull, which would leave one seat to fill.
Brendon Hartley looks like he will be dropped, but Toro Rosso’s preferred option of junior driver Dan Ticktum will not happen as the Brit doesn’t have enough superlicence points.
Norris is another option reportedly being considered.
SAUBER (TBC, TBC)
Marcus Ericsson is likely to stay, while Stoffel Vandoorne could also come in if he gets the boot from McLaren.
Should Charles Leclerc make the move to a more prestigious team then Antonio Giovinazzi will probably get the go ahead for a first season in F1.
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