Who goes where? 2020 Formula 1 Driver Update

After big changes this year, 2020 promises relative stability on the Formula 1 driver market. Only a handful of seats still remain open for next year, with Nico Hülkenberg the most high-profile driver yet to seal a deal.

2019 Driver Shakeup

The Formula 1 driver market underwent one of its periodic shakeups in 2019 after a whole host of contracts came up for renewal. Just two teams, Mercedes & Haas, fielded an unchanged driver line up this year. The highest profile moves involved Charles Leclerc graduating from Alfa Romeo to Ferrari after an impressive debut season, Daniel Ricciardo switching from Red Bull to Renault and Pierre Gasly moving from Toro Rosso to Red Bull.

Several talented rookies also joined the grid in 2019. After occupying the top three positions in last year’s Formula 2 championship, George Russell, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon moved up to Formula 1 this year. All three have had impressive debut seasons. While not quite a rookie, Antonio Giovinazzi has not had such a positive debut season, having scored 4 points so far for Alfa Romeo compared to his highly experienced teammate Kimi Räikkönen’s 31 points.

Two drivers also made unlikely comebacks in 2019. Robert Kubica re-joined the grid with Williams, 8 years after suffering terrible injuries to his arm in a rallying accident. And Russian driver Daniil Kvyat came back to the team where he started out in F1, Toro Rosso, after a year on the sidelines.

Recent Developments

During the summer break, the first driver change with possible ramifications for 2020 was announced; having lost patience with Pierre Gasly’s lack of pace this year, Red Bull decided to give his seat to Alexander Albon for the remainder of the season. Additional pieces of the 2020 F1 driver market fell into place as F1 returned from the summer. At the Belgian Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas was confirmed at Mercedes alongside World Champion Lewis Hamilton for one more year and Renault also announced that Esteban Ocon will join the team alongside Daniel Ricciardo in 2020, leaving Nico Hülkenberg without a drive.

In Singapore, Robert Kubica announced his decision to leave Williams at the end of the year. While the Pole is expected to be in demand as a test or simulator driver, he is unlikely to be offered another race seat after being outclassed by his young teammate George Russell this year. Kubica has indicated his desire to race at the front of the grid again, and is rumoured to be considering a move to Germany’s DTM series for 2020. Soon after, Haas surprised almost everyone by retaining Romain Grosjean for a fifth consecutive season with the team in 2020. He will partner Kevin Magnussen, who has been at the American team for just one season less than his Swiss-French teammate, and has had the upper hand in recent head-to-head battles.

Musical Chairs

With five races remaining on the 2019 calendar, the same number of places on the 2020 grid are unconfirmed. This number falls to two if you assume that Red Bull and Toro Rosso will select their 2020 lineups from this year’s driver pool. Max Verstappen is the only driver with a confirmed drive at Red Bull for next year. Alexander Albon, Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat are in the frame for the second Red Bull seat in 2020, with the losers from this equation expected to make up Toro Rosso’s 2020 squad (unless the team plumps for an untried rookie).

The final two openings on the 2020 grid are with Alfa Romeo and Williams. Kimi Räikkönen may have had the upper hand at Alfa Romeo this year, but Antonio Giovinazzi – the only Italian on the grid, back by Ferrari and driving for a famous Italian automotive marque – is likely to given a second chance to prove himself. At Williams, the leading frontrunner to partner George Russell in 2020 is Nicholas Latifi. The Canadian brings sponsorship funds and currently sits second in the 2019 Formula 2 standings, having won four races this year. Williams may be the only realistic option for Nico Hülkenberg, who admitted in Japan that “there’s no news, so it’s a little bit more of a patience game. I’ll have to wait and see a little bit longer.”

Here’s how the Formula 1 grid is shaping up for 2020


#44 Lewis Hamilton (contracted until 2020)

#77 Valtteri Bottas (contracted until 2020)


#5 Sebastian Vettel (contracted until 2020)

#16 Charles Leclerc (contracted until 2022)

Red Bull

#33 Max Verstappen (contracted until 2020)

#23 Alexander Albon (TBC)


#3 Daniel Ricciardo (contracted until 2020)

#31 Esteban Ocon (contracted until 2021)


#8 Romain Grosjean (contracted until 2020) 

#20 Kevin Magnussen (contracted until 2020)


#4 Lando Norris (contracted until 2020)        

#55 Carlos Sainz (contracted until 2020)

Racing Point

#11 Sergio Pérez (contracted until 2022)

#18 Lance Stroll (multi-year contract)

Alfa Romeo

#7 Kimi Räikkönen (contracted until 2020)

#99 Antonio Giovinazzi (TBC)

Toro Rosso

#26 Daniil Kvyat (TBC)

#10 Pierre Gasly (TBC)


#63 George Russell   



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