Teams con­sider their 2017 driver line-ups

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

F1 stal­wart Kimi Räikkö­nen will stay on at Fer­rari, while Jen­son But­ton’s fu­ture is un­de­cided. And is it all change at Re­nault?

Kimi Räikkö­nen, 36, has been re-signed by Fer­rari for another sea­son, but the F1 fu­ture of fel­low vet­eran Jen­son But­ton, also 36, is un­likely to be re­solved for at least another few months.

Fer­rari an­nounced they would re­tain Räikkö­nen at the Bri­tish GP in a move that reected their lack of al­ter­na­tives. They had shown in­ter­est in both Red Bull driv­ers, Max Ver­stap­pen and Daniel Ric­cia­rdo, but both are un­der con­tract un­til the end of 2019 and 2018 re­spec­tively. Fer­rari also con­sid­ered Ser­gio Pérez, Car­los Sainz and Valt­teri Bot­tas, but all came with con­trac­tual com­pli­ca­tions re­quir­ing them to be bought out of their cur­rent teams. There is doubt as to whether any of them would be an im­prove­ment over 2007 cham­pion Räikkö­nen.

Mean­while, McLaren have in­di­cated that they are in no rush to make a de­ci­sion on their 2017 driver line-up. McLaren chief ex­ec­u­tive Ron Den­nis said he would not be­gin to con­sider whether to pick But­ton or re­serve driver Stof­fel Van­doorne as team-mate to Fer­nando Alonso next sea­son un­til the Ital­ian GP in Septem­ber.

McLaren are thought likely to pick Van­doorne, 24, a log­i­cal choice given the ages of their cur­rent driv­ers (Alonso turns 35 on 29 July). Alonso’s con­tract runs out at the end of 2017 and Van­doorne is con­sid­ered the hottest prospect not yet driv­ing full-time in F1. But the de­ci­sion could swing in But­ton’s favour, due to his mar­ket­ing ap­peal, ex­pe­ri­ence and proven qual­ity.

His man­ager, Richard God­dard, said But­ton had not yet de­cided what he wanted to do in 2017, but he is known to be of in­ter­est to Wil­liams, who are poised to drop Felipe Massa, and who have an op­tion on Valt­teri Bot­tas.

Force In­dia are likely to re­tain Ser­gio Pérez and Nico Hülken­berg, both of whom they in­sist are un­der con­tract. But Pérez has had talks with Re­nault, and dis­putes this. Re­nault are at this stage lean­ing to­wards drop­ping both Kevin Mag­nussen and Jolyon Palmer. Mag­nussen had im­pressed the team early in the year, but there is mount­ing con­cern over a num­ber of on-track in­ci­dents, along with his re­laxed ap­proach, which has been in­ter­preted as a lack of com­mit­ment. Palmer, mean­while, was only ever likely to be at the team for one sea­son, hav­ing been signed against Re­nault’s will by for­mer own­ers Genii Cap­i­tal be­fore the Lo­tus team was taken over.

Re­nault want Van­doorne, who will prob­a­bly be avail­able only on a lease deal from McLaren, and are be­lieved more likely to pro­mote Este­ban Ocon, their re­serve driver. Ocon, is a Mercedes young driver but is on loan to Re­nault, where he has ap­peal due to his French na­tion­al­ity.

Red Bull have an­nounced that Car­los Sainz will stay on at Toro Rosso. Daniil Kvyat has been unimpressive since his de­mo­tion from Red Bull but could be re­tained into next sea­son, un­less Red Bull pro­mote re­serve driver Pierre Gasly.

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