Formula 1 in 2017: Introducing F1's next generation
By Simeon Gholam
Last Updated: 08/11/16 3:33pm
With Felipe Massa retiring and Jenson Button stepping away from the sport, the average age of the F1 grid is set to plummet in 2017.
The impact of Max Verstappen has led teams to target youth rather than experience and Lewis Hamilton, currently just 31, could be the oldest driver behind a wheel by 2018.
Here, then, we take a look at the young guns who could dominate the grid next season - and ponder who will be the star of F1's next generation.
Age: 24. 2017 team: McLaren.
Stoffel Vandoorne has been waiting a long time for his chance in F1, but Button's decision to step away in 2017 has finally given him a seat on the grid.
The 24-year-old, who will turn 25 in the early weeks of next season, has dominated GP2 in the past and is, according to McLaren, "the most talented and exciting young driver in the sport today". That's some accolade.
"He faces the most challenging team-mate it's possible to conceive of in Alonso, a driver that Button considers as the all-round best he's ever raced against," Hughes said. "It's a measure of Vandoorne's potential that the in-team competition between them is expected to be something to savour."
Age: 18. 2017 team: Williams.
There will be another teenager on the grid in 2017 after Williams named 18-year-old Lance Stroll as the replacement for the retiring Felipe Massa.
It would be quite a jump for the Grove team to turn from a man with more than 200 GPs to his name to a youngster with no F1 experience, but Stroll is very highly rated and won the European F3 championship in style this year with 14 victories.
He is also a known quantity at Williams in his role as the team's development driver and could provide an element of the unexpected alongside the reliable Valtteri Bottas in 2017. The son of a billionaire, Stroll will inevitably be billed as a "pay driver", but there's talent in abundance here.
Age: 19. Team: Manor.
Are Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein competing for a future spot at Mercedes? Sky F1's Marc Priestley seems to think so.
"This is the future of our sport," he said on the F1 Report a couple of weeks ago. "Its a little bit like the Toro Rosso situation where you've got two guys fighting for potentially one of the best seats in Formula 1.
"They know they're linked to Mercedes, they know where that path leads and they're going to be giving it absolutely everything. It's exciting to watch."
Age: 21. Team: Manor.
A part of the Mercedes youth setup, Pascal Wehrlein has one F1 point to his name in his debut season after an impressive 10th in Austria for Manor.
The German youngster is the favourite to replace Nico Hulkenberg at Force India for 2017, but it's Pascal's close association to a Mercedes team which is currently a class above the rest that makes him such a potential force to be reckoned with.
Age: 22. 2017 team: Toro Rosso.
Previously a team-mate of Verstappen before the Dutchman's progression to Red Bull, Sainz has also enjoyed an impressive second season in F1.
While they were still racing together, Martin Brundle said their rivalry could become the new Hamilton v Nico Rosberg.
"The squabble between these two emerging stars in Formula 1 is going to be like Hamilton and Rosberg - but probably even more intense," he said earlier this season.
Cruelly denied a potential podium finish by a poor pit stop in Monaco, the Spaniard has regularly outperformed Daniil Kvyat since the Russian dropped down to Toro Rosso and has managed an impressive eight top-ten finishes this year - including a high of sixth in Spain.
"Sainz is one of those drivers who just keeps getting better," Sky F1's Mark Hughes wrote. "Yes, Verstappen's amazing teenage rookie year rightly earned him plaudits and attention. But it made it too easy not to be watching and monitoring the often superb performances of Sainz. If Ferrari is looking for a Kimi Raikkonen replacement now that Verstappen is off the market, this would be a logical place to start."
Age: 19. 2017 team: Red Bull.
Where else to start than with Verstappen, the 19-year-old who has broken record after record since making his F1 debut at the start of last season?
The Dutchman forced his way into a Red Bull seat after four races this year and immediately made his mark as he won the Spanish Grand Prix, becoming the youngest Grand Prix winner in history in the process at 18 years and 228 days old.
The achievement prompted Sky F1's Martin Brundle to hail the teenager as "F1's new beginning" and David Croft to declare that Verstappen "has shown he has everything to be a world champion."
Only just 19, Max still has plenty of time to break Vettel's record as the youngest world champion, which he achieved at 23 years and 134 days old in 2010.
Can Nico Rosberg clinch the title at Interlagos? Watch the Brazilian GP live on Sky Sports F1 on Sunday, November 13. The race begins at 4pm; Watch the whole race weekend with a NOW TV week pass - £10.99, no contract.