The latest chapter in a summer of remarkable driver market bombshells has confirmed that Charles Leclerc will join Ferrari after only one season in Formula 1, swapping seats with Kimi Raikkonen for 2019.
The news has generally been met with excitement – Leclerc will be the second youngest Ferrari driver in F1 history when he rolls off the grid as a 21-year-old in Melbourne next season and as one of the most promising talents of his generation, it’s a golden opportunity that has been merited.
But it’s not just Leclerc who emerges from the news as a winner – in fact, nearly every party involved in this particular story can look upon the news positively.
At 19 years and 124 days old Lando Norris will become the third-youngest driver in history to start a Formula 1 race, when he makes his McLaren debut at the 2019 Australian Grand Prix.
However, as Max Verstappen has recently proven, age is but a number. The motorsport proverb, ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough’ has never been truer. Despite his tender years, Norris is exactly the kind of driver McLaren needs right now.
Filling Fernando Alonso’s shoes is no mean feat and a challenge that now poetically falls upon Carlos Sainz Jr, who has made no secret of the fact that he was an Alonso fan growing up.
The baton has been transferred from one Spaniard to another and the hopes of a nation along with it, at a McLaren team currently in strife and with a long road to recovery ahead. Does Sainz have what it takes to live up to that challenge?
Despite 2018’s front running seats being locked down by their incumbents, it appears that a midfield shuffle is about to be triggered by Carlos Sainz Jr. Bizarrely, it would seem that power unit politics is the factor that is set to fuel a move for Sainz from Toro Rosso to Renault for 2018.
It is a switch which makes perfect sense, as it benefits all five parties that are either directly or indirectly involved; Red Bull, Renault, Toro Rosso, the beleaguered McLaren and – most poignantly – Sainz himself.
In what has become an annual news event, Kimi Raikkonen has once again been retained by Ferrari for another season, as the Italian team announced on Tuesday that the 2007 world champion has earned another contract extension.
Not bad for a driver labeled a “laggard” by his boss and Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne earlier this year.
Regardless of this brutally blunt assessment, Raikkonen’s re-signing makes sense for a Ferrari team with plenty to ponder in their immediate future.
Given that the summer break has starved Formula 1 fans of concrete news stories over the past few weeks, silly season speculation has been rife. While much of the discussion can be filed under far-fetched fan fiction, the rumours surrounding Fernando Alonso seem somewhat substantiated.
In reality, speculation regarding Alonso’s future has been a news feature ever since the disappointing McLaren Honda MCL-32 rolled out of the garage – and was swiftly rolled back into the garage – on the opening day of 2017 pre-season testing.
It is entirely possible that Alonso is now considering the very real prospect of a tilt at IndyCar in 2018.