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Formula 1 in 2017: The state of play in the driver market decoded

Who is signed and secured for next season, who is still in doubt, who is likely to be out, and what the rumour mill says...

The contract extension Lewis Hamilton signed last year still has two and a half seasons to run, although one of the more intriguing rumours at the British GP was a suggestion Ferrari may be playing a waiting game for the reigning world champion.

After months of negotiations between himself, former F1 driver Gerhard Berger and Mercedes, Nico Rosberg penned his new two-year deal ahead of the Hungarian GP - with both drivers' contracts now expiring in 2018.

"Nico is the real deal for us and having made the signature is what matters for us," said boss Toto Wolff. "It's great, so onwards and upwards."

But what happens at the end of 2018?

Once again, speculation over Kimi Raikkonen's future has been muted by a surprise early announcement from the Scuderia confirming a contract extension. "We would like to be focused and concentrated on car development and not about confirmation of of the drivers," Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene explained. "It's a message of stability."

But rumours persist Sebastian Vettel - under contract for at least the end of next season - may have 'vetoed' attempts by the team to bring in a new driver. True or not, Raikkonen's extension is bad news for Valtteri Bottas, Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez - all of whom would surely have leapt at any opportunity to drive in red.

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It's now known Max Verstappen signed a long-term extension, which reputedly runs until 2019, with Red Bull when he was promoted from Toro Rosso in May while Daniel Ricciardo revealed to Sky Sports in June his contract has also been extended by Red Bull until 2018. In other words, Ricciardo-Verstappen is set to be the Red Bull driver line-up for at least another two and a half years. 

One seat is certainly up for grabs at Williams after Felipe Massa announced his retirement from F1 at the end of the season at the Italian GP.

Bottas, meanwhile, is likely to be retained, but the Finn has been linked with Renault and Williams has also confirmed the Grove outfit would be interested in recruiting Sergio Perez: "Of course he is going to be someone you'd consider if he is available." Canadian youngster Lance Stroll, the team's development driver, could be the wildcard.

Natalie Pinkham speaks with Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg

While Nico Hulkenberg has confirmed he will be staying on at Force India for 2017, confusion and intrigue surrounds the position of Sergio Perez.

Although the team are adamant he has a contract for next season, the Mexican has confirmed he will be spending the summer break evaluating his options. It's rumoured that Perez has already held talks with Renault - a team with the allure of manufacturer backing and described by Perez as "an interesting option" - while Williams, as detailed above, have also expressed their interest. 

"I've made up my mind, I know what I want to do hopefully we can succeed on that," Perez told Sky Sports News HQ before leaving Hockenheim. Now Force India - as well as Renault and Williams - wait for news on what that decision actually is. 

Although Toro Rosso - via Red Bull, who control the junior outfit's driver contracts - have exercised their option on Carlos Sainz, the uncertainty surrounding the future of Daniil Kvyat manifested itself in a traumatised interview after qualifying for the German GP when the young Russian bared a deeply-troubled mindset. 

Pierre Gasly, who tested for Red Bull at Silverstone, is the next young wannabe in line and on current form it is difficult to envisage Kvyat being retained. The 22-year-old has scored just two points since being dropped down a tier and needs a rapid turnaround to stop expectation of a Sainz-Gasly partnership in 2017 becoming an inevitability. 

Finalising their 2017 driver line-up is probably very low on Haas's current list of priorities following the team's mid-season slide towards F1's backmarkers. But it's fair to assume that having committed the next stage of his F1 career to the Haas project - albeit in large part in hope it would open a route to Ferrari - Grosjean will continue.

However, the ongoing glaring absence of a single point to his name in 2016 makes Esteban Gutierrez very vulnerable, although he does come with the Ferrari link and backing from Mexico. If a viable American candidate became available, now might be the time to strike. 

McLaren have announced that Stoffel Vandoorne will make his F1 debut alongside Fernando Alonso in 2017. 

That's not to say we've seen the last of Jenson Button on the grid, with the 2009 world champion signing a new two-year deal with the team in a role that will see him help out with the development of the car, and he could even potentially return in 2018 - or next year, if McLaren need him to fill in.

Alonso will enter the third and final year of his current McLaren deal in 2017. Expect speculation over the Spaniard's future to be one of the sagas of next year. In the meantime, look out for talk of McLaren trying to sign James Allison, formerly Ferrari's technical chief, before the year is out.

Along with current incumbents Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer, it's believed that Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez are all in contention to race for Renault next year. While Palmer urgently needs a run of results to extend his stay, Magnussen's retention is likely but by no means assured.

Much will depend on the type of line-up Renault's hierarchy are seeking. If they opt for Ocon, they may seek an older hand than Magnussen to partner the young Frenchman. But if they can lure either Perez or Bottas, Magnussen may well be in direct - and winnable - competition with Ocon for the final seat with the understandable appeal of Renault signing a French driver for a French team offset by Ocon's membership of Mercedes' young driver programme. 

With Sauber's new 'Swiss' owners thought to have links to Sweden's Tetra Pak, Marcus Ericsson looks nailed on for 2017.

But what of Felipe Nasr? "If Felipe can bring a budget and bring sponsorship, l think they will be tempted to keep him as well," says Croft. "But there will be a few drivers sniffing around and saying 'I want to be in F1 and his my sponsorship budget'." The other question to ask is whether Nasr would want to stay unless signs of an imminent revival at Sauber soon materialise. 

The biggest transfer news from the summer break so far has been Ocon replacing Rio Haryanto after his Indonesia-sourced sponsorship began to dry up. The Mercedes youngster, a reserve at Renault this year, will race for the team for the rest of the season and if he impresses, should have plenty of admirers.

Pascal Wehrlein could well stay on for a second season, but his Mercedes connection probably makes him the favourite to replace Perez at Force India if the Mexican departs. Such a deal would have the potential convenience of offsetting the loss of Perez's sponsorship money with a sweetener by Mercedes, Force India's engine suppliers. If so, Ocon could then have a second season at Manor, putting both of Mercedes' likeliest lads on the grid in 2017 - a year before the deals of Rosberg and Hamilton expire....

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