The 2020 F1 season may not have turned a wheel in anger as yet but that hasn’t stopped some teams from looking into the future following a shake-up of the driver market for the 2021 season.

Sebastian Vettel’s decision to forge an exit from Ferrari at the end of the 2020 campaign after six seasons with the Scuderia means the four-time World Champion is currently without a deal for 2021 and potentially facing limited options unless he retires from the sport.

With that confirmation leading to a prompt reshuffling around him too with Carlos Sainz stepping into Ferrari to replace Vettel, while Daniel Ricciardo takes on the Spaniard’s vacated seat at McLaren.

Now that the dust has settled, we’re taking stock of who is confirmed and could be coming up…

Who is confirmed on the 2021 F1 grid?

Ferrari became the first top team to confirm its driver line-up for the next two seasons with the news that Sainz will drive for the Scuderia in 2021 and 2022. He joins Charles Leclerc, who penned a new long-term contract with Ferrari over the winter that will see him lead its attempts to regain the F1 title until the end of 2024.

Max Verstappen will also remain in familiar surroundings after landing an extended contract with Red Bull Racing, while McLaren’s announcement to sign Ricciardo from Renault also confirmed Lando Norris will stay with the team for another season too.

Despite losing the Australian, Renault will head into the 2021 season with Esteban Ocon assured of a seat, while George Russell will remain with the Williams team for what will be his third season with the Grove team.

Though its rebrand to Aston Martin marks a new era in Racing Point’s F1 story, it will nonetheless retain continuity on the driving front with Sergio Perez set for another season with the Silverstone-based squad and Lance Stroll almost certain to retain his drive too.

Which F1 seats are up for grabs in 2021?

Champions Mercedes are yet to formally confirm its drivers for 2021, though Lewis Hamilton’s renewal is considered to be a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. However, there is growing speculation that Valtteri Bottas’ seat may be under threat from the newly-available Vettel if rumours of Mercedes’ top brass exploring the possibility of pursuing the German come to fruition.

If Bottas does indeed find himself out of a drive then Red Bull and Renault could provide alternative employment for the Finn. Even so, Alex Albon remains the more logical option for Red Bull provided he can keep up the momentum from last year’s shock mid-season promotion to team.

As well as Bottas and possibly Vettel too, Renault is understood to be considering an approach to lure the currently unemployed Fernando Alonso back into the Enstone fold, 15 years after he won his second world title with the team in 2006.

Having focused on continuity in recent years, Haas may feel compelled to switch up its driver line-up in 2021, particularly if Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen are unable to string a more harmonious season together in the American outfit.

Alpha Tauri, meanwhile, may take 2021 as an opportunity give another Red Bull junior a shot at F1, while Alfa Romeo has a bevy of Ferrari Driver Academy drivers to consider – including Mick Schumacher and Robert Schwartzman – if Antonio Giovinazzi and/or Kimi Raikkonen don’t continue beyond 2020.

 

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