Formula 1: Update on driver contracts past 2020

The 2020 Formula 1 season has not yet gotten underway due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the 2020 driver lineup set, let’s take a look at driver contracts for 2021 and beyond.

The 2019 Formula 1 season hadn’t even ended by the time the driver lineup for the 2020 season had been confirmed; Williams completed the 20-car lineup by confirming rookie Nicholas Latifi as the replacement for Robert Kubica, even though it was initially believed that they would not make this confirmation until after the season ended.

Latifi is the only rookie in the 2020 driver lineup, as 18 of the 20 drivers who competed in the 2019 season returned to their teams. Eight of the sport’s 10 teams retained the same driver lineup.

The only other driver who left the sport, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, was replaced by Esteban Ocon, who had previously competed in Formula 1 before he was replaced by Lance Stroll at Racing Point after the 2018 season.

As far as when the 2020 season will get underway, nobody knows; the coronavirus pandemic led to the postponement o  cancellation of each of the first four races on the 22-race schedule

Postponements and cancellations: TRACKER

The season is currently scheduled to get underway on Sunday, May 3 with the Dutch Grand Prix at Circuit Zandvoort, but that remains in question as well.

Next non-postponed or canceled race: TRACKER

With the 2020 season at a standstill before it even had the chance to get underway, let’s quickly shift the focus to 2021.

The 2021 driver lineup could prove to be a lot different than the 2020 driver lineup, which did not feature many changes from the 2019 driver lineup. The changes from 2020 to 2021 could end up resembling the changes from 2018 to 2019 more so than from 2019 to 2020.

From 2018 to 2019, just eight drivers remained at their teams. Six switched to new teams and six more entered the sport. Three did so with no previous Formula 1 experience. Just two of the sport’s 10 teams retained the same driver lineup.

As of now, only six of the 20 drivers who are set to compete in the 2020 season, whenever it gets started, have contracts to compete in 2021. Four of these six drivers already have contracts for 2022.

Lando Norris signed a multi-year contract extension with McLaren back in July of 2019 to continue driving for the team through the 2022 season, and Sergio Perez signed a three-year contract extension with Racing Point (to become Aston Martin after the 2020 season) back in August of 2019 to continue driving for the team through the 2022 season as well.

Amid speculation that Mercedes may seek his services in 2021, Williams confirmed back in August that George Russell is under contract with the team through next season. Later in the month when Renault confirmed the speculation by signing Ocon to replace Hulkenberg, they did so by signing him to a two-year deal.

Two new deals were confirmed over the offseason, and they were both for top-tier drivers at top-tier teams, leading to the belief that perhaps the changes will be somewhat restricted even with so many great pending free agents.

Charles Leclerc signed a contract extension with Ferrari to continue driving for the Scuderia through the 2024 season back in December, and Max Verstappen then signed a contract extension with Red Bull Racing to continue driving for the team through the 2023 season back in January.

As for the other 14 drivers in the 2020 driver lineup, none have deals lined up to compete in the 2021 season.

Next: Top 10 Formula 1 drivers of all-time

Which active drivers will land contracts to continue competing in Formula 1 in the 2021 season to join the six who already have deals lined up for after 2020?

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