Current championship protagonists Scuderia Ferrari and the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team are set to retain their current driver line-up in 2018.
According to Sky F1, reports in the Italian media suggest that the Maranello based squad will announce their decision to keep both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen on their books next year, at the Italian Grand Prix in September.
With Vettel in no rush to complete contract negotiations with the Italian squad before the summer break, speculation had mounted that the German may be holding out for a move to Mercedes, with a number of driver contracts up for negotiation at the end of the season; making the driver market wide open.
It was also believed that the four-time world champion could be delaying in order to ensure that Raikkonen would be named as his team-mate next year. Vettel recently described the Finn as the least complicated team-mate you could ask for, and as well as having a strong friendship off track, Raikkonen’s ‘team spirit’ is also a big plus point.
The fact that team orders usually fall in the German’s favour, means Vettel sees the 2007 world champion as the ideal partner to aid his title charge without complication.
The Finn’s willingness to remain behind Vettel in Hungary, whilst also holding off any attack from Mercedes, was applauded by Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne.
“He was great. We are a single team at Maranello, all working together.”
The Italian-Canadian is also reported to have confirmed that the likelihood of their two current drivers remaining with them next year “is more than 50 per cent probable.”
“They are great together so it would be a risk to change the game now. Let’s see if we can keep them for 2018.
“I think they want to stay. We should be able to announce our drivers at Monza. Nothing is signed yet but we are talking to the drivers and the agreement may be close.”
There is also further speculation, that Vettel signed a ‘pre-agreement’ with Mercedes last winter and that is why he has been unable to complete negotiations with Ferrari until the end of July.
Whether that is the case or not is unknown, but Sky F1 claim to have been told that Valtteri Bottas is set to sign a contract extension at Mercedes to remain as Lewis Hamilton‘s team-mate in 2018, after also showing his admirable ‘team player’ qualities since joining the German squad at the start of the season.