Official 2020 Formula 1 Driver Lineup
Canadian racing driver Nicholas Lafiti has been confirmed as the driver who will replace Robert Kubica at Williams next season, officially completing the 2020 Formula 1 driver lineup.
Compared to last year, when only two teams announced they would have an unchanged driver lineup, there are not many changes this time around. In fact, it’s the total opposite: only two teams will have a different driver at the start of 2020 than at the end of 2019.
At Mercedes, Bottas will continue to drive alongside Hamilton for the fourth consecutive year. He’s been the perfect teammate for the six-time champion: Quick enough to haul in the points when Mercedes needs them, but not quick enough to truly challenge Hamilton over the course of a season, and he plays nice when team orders are used. There’s been something of a pattern with the Finnish driver, though: Each year, he has been renewing a one-year contract, and each year his performances are stronger before the renewal and weaker after.
Ferrari drivers Vettel and Leclerc will be teammates once again, though some wonder if that will last beyond 2020. There were fireworks during the 2019 season that culminated in both drivers retiring out of the Brazilian GP. Leclerc has had the measure of Vettel in qualifying, but during the races the four-time champion has proved faster overall, though he is down in points because of reliability. It will certainly be interesting to see how their rivalry develops in 2020.
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Verstappen still had another year left in his contract with Red Bull, and Albon was recently confirmed to be staying with the team after having replaced Gasly. Albon is quick, but so far we’ve yet to see him have the pace necessary to keep up with his teammate. Can Red Bull give Verstappen a car quick enough to win the 2020 championship? Its ability to keep its star driver — and its Honda engine — may rest on the answer to that question.
Sainz had an incredible year for McLaren and certainly outperformed teammate Norris, but some concessions must be made to the latter for being a rookie. Certainly the atmosphere at the team seems to have changed for the better, and these two entertaining and laid-back drivers have been proof of it.
At Renault we finally see one of the first driver lineup changes. The team will continue to employ Ricciardo’s services but will let go of Nico Hülkenberg, whom Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul had called “world championship material” in the Netflix Drive to Survive series. Ricciardo had a slight edge over Hülkenberg throughout the season and Renault preferred to replace him with Ocon, who had raced in F1 in 2017-18 but was out of a drive this year, a Frenchman who will no doubt provide better sponsorship opportunities for the team.
You may have noticed that Toro Rosso (Italian for “Red Bull”) is no longer present among the teams, for it has been renamed Alpha Tauri after the Red Bull-owned fashion brand. It will continue to field Gasly and Kvyat in 2020, a driver pairing that has done well in the second half of the 2019 season.
Racing Point also has an unchanged driver lineup. Pérez, sometime known as the “king of the midfield,” proved it once more in 2019 with consistent point-scoring performances. Stroll showed he has good racecraft but needs to do much better in qualifying.
The so-called Alfa Romeo racing team also kept Räikkönen and Giovinazzi. The latter didn’t make a strong debut impression against his aging teammate, albeit a former championship-winning one at that, and we imagine he won’t be in F1 after 2020 if his performances don’t improve.
Haas strongly considered letting go of Grosjean but then decided that keeping a known variable in the French driver, who is very quick on his day, was a better bet as the team needs to identify where its season went so wrong.
Finally, Williams driver Robert Kubica will move on to racing in DTM after his massively popular comeback showed that he no longer had what it took to compete in F1. Russell, whose skills are hard to ascertain in the slow Williams car, will have the aforementioned Lafiti as his 2020 teammate.
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With few changes both on the driver and regulations front, the 2020 season will be an evolution of 2019. But with lots of contracts running out just in time for the big 2021 changes, it’s quite possible the annual F1 “silly season,” the period during which everybody speculates about where everyone else is going, will last most of the year.