Daniel Ricciardo quits Red Bull: What now for the F1 driver market?
What now for Ocon, Stroll and Sainz? And who will partner Verstappen in 2019?
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 07/08/18 5:42pm
Daniel Ricciardo's shock decision to quit Red Bull for Renault will have immediate and unexpected repercussions in the F1 driver market.
As recently as this midweek following the two-day test at Hungary, Ricciardo had indicated a new deal with Red Bull was imminent.
But his switch to Renault scuppers expectations Esteban Ocon was on the cusp of moving to the French team in 2019 from Force India.
And that, in turn, has seemingly put a block on predictions Lance Stroll will leave Williams for Force India at the end of 2018 - although that could still happen if, as suggested, Sergio Perez leaves Force India.
Renault have confirmed Nico Hulkenberg will be staying on to partner Ricciardo.
That means Carlos Sainz will be moving on, with the Spaniard expected to join McLaren - either as a replacement for compatriot Fernando Alonso or as his boyhood hero's team-mate following Stoffel Vandoorne struggles this year.
Red Bull, meanwhile, say they will now 'evaluate the numerous options available to us before deciding on which driver partners Max Verstappen for the 2019 season.'
One possibility is that Sainz, contracted to Red Bull and effectively on loan at Renault, will return to his parent team.
But his combustible relationship with Verstappen during their two years together at Toro Rosso is thought to be a significant obstacle, making Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly the early favourite to fill Ricciardo's seat for 2019.
F1's back from its summer break with the Belgian GP, live on Sky Sports F1. The race begins at 2.10pm on Sunday August 26. Get Sky Sports F1 - the home of every race weekend LIVE in 2018.
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