The 2014 driver market is starting to take shape but the puzzle is still far from complete. It has been a hotly debated subject for quite some time, started by Mark Webber’s decision to leave the sport and move to the World Endurance Championship with Porsche over the British Grand Prix weekend.
The most recent puzzle piece to be added to the jigsaw came from Lotus on Friday. The Enstone-based outfit announced that Pastor Maldonado will partner Romain Grosjean for 2014. There are a few seats left and plenty of drivers vying to fill them. Here is a look at how the driver market currently stands:
Red Bull Racing
Confirmed: Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo were announced for 2014 in September, with the latter replacing Mark Webber.
Mercedes AMG Petronas
Confirmed: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg helped Mercedes to three race wins in 2013 and will continue their strong partnership next year.
Confirmed: Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen make up, arguably, the strongest line-up of 2014. The returning Finn was announced as Felipe Massa’s replacement in September.
Lotus F1 Team:
Confirmed: Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen were confirmed prior to the United States Grand Prix after Sergio Perez announced his departure.
Sahara Force India
Confirmed: Nico Hulkenberg announced in early December that he will return to the team on after signing a “multi-year” deal. Sergio Perez was confirmed at the team nine days later.
Confirmed: Adrian Sutil has made a direct switch with Hulkenberg, making it the first team move of his career.
Candidates: Sergey Sirotkin is still in the frame but questions about his funding are being raised. Esteban Gutierrez could stay at the team and Paul di Resta is another option, although unlikely.
Scuderia Toro Rosso
Confirmed: Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Kvyat will race for the Italian team in 2014. The latter won the GP3 title this year and impressed in two FP1 outings in Austin and Brazil.
Confirmed: Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas make up a very promising line-up for 2014. The Grove-based outfit secure valuable experience from Massa, which should help Bottas as he develops as a driver.
Confirmed: Jules Bianchi is the only driver to be confirmed at the team for 2014. Candidates: Max Chilton will most likely be retained, Vitaly Petrov and Rodolfo Gonzalez are options, albeit quite unlikely.
Candidates: The backmarkers could stay with Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, but Heikki Kovalainen, Marcus Ericsson and Alexander Rossi are all trying to find a seat on the 2014 grid. Esteban Gutierrez was spotted at the factory and could also be a contender.
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic