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How will the remainder of the 2017 grid look?

  • Published on 05 Jan 2017 15:27
  • comments 0
  • By: Fergal Walsh

The 2017 season may be quite a while away yet, but teams that have not secured their line ups for the season may want to get a move on.

The transition from 2016 to 2017 appeared to be a fairly smooth and orthodox one until Nico Rosberg dropped the bombshell that he was retiring from the sport.

This blew the driver market wide open with names from all over the grid being linked to the seat until it dwindled down to two drivers: Pascal Wehrlein and Valtteri Bottas.

In the past few weeks it's been looking very likely that it's going to be Bottas who gets the seat, despite Wehrlein being part of the Mercedes programme. Due to his lack of experience, Wehrlein looks to be missing out on a top seat, a second blow after not landing the Force India seat. And that decision to take Esteban Ocon over Wehrlein for the Silverstone based team certainly didn't come down to experience.

Instead, Wehrlein looks to be heading off to Sauber in a slightly unusual deal where a Mercedes backed driver will be driving a Ferrari powered car. A big year lies ahead of the German who will look to impress his parent team, and convince them they made a mistake in not promoting him.

So with Bottas appearing to be setting himself for a Mercedes move, this transfer would allow Felipe Massa to come out of one of the shortest retirements in F1 history.

Williams want experience alongside rookie Lance Stroll next year and in their eyes, there is no better option available than Felipe Massa.

That leaves Manor who look to completely change their line up for start of the season for the third successive year. 2015 saw Merhi/Stevens, 2016 saw Wehrlein/Haryanto. Who will we see in 2017?

Well Jordan King has been a development driver at the team for two years now, and has plenty of racing experience after spending two (rather unsuccessful) years in GP2, and two years in the Formula Three European championship.

He also brings a bit of budget too, but perhaps Manor are looking for a more experienced driver in F1, such as Esteban Gutierrez who has been ousted at Haas.

Gutierrez certainly brings budget, but another driver who could link up with the team is Felipe Nasr, if he can get Banco De Brasil back on his side after they seemingly dropped their sponsorship for him after the 2016 season.

Nasr could find funds elsewhere and get in at Manor, but one driver who's returning hopes seem to be over is Rio Haryanto. The Indonesian has lost backing of his main sponsor and add that to his mother disapproval of a return, it could be curtains for Haryanto.

Highly praised Antonio Giovinazzi could be in contention for a seat but again, it would be a strange deal to have a Ferrari backed driver in a Mercedes. Or perhaps the Wehrlein to Sauber deal balances it out? 

If former Manor sporting director Graeme Lowdon and Indonesian businessman Ricardo Gelael get involved, Gelael could use his links with Jagonya Ayam (KFC Indonesia) to get into F1.

All these line ups are expected to be cleared up in the coming weeks so watch this space for announcements.

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