Lewis Hamilton signed a contract through 2018 last year, meaning the focus was on whether Nico Rosberg would extend his stay with the Silver Arrows, having first linked up back in 2010. In truth, an extension was always a case of when, not if, and before the Hungarian Grand Prix it was announced that Rosberg had penned a new deal. Hamilton and Rosberg are both locked down until 2018 as Mercedes strives to maintain its dominance.
Daniel Ricciardo's future was briefly thrown into doubt earlier this year amid strategic errors in Spain/Monaco, but such uncertainty was quickly swatted aside as team chiefs reiterated that the Australian is tied to the outfit until 2018, having penned a five-year deal when he joined in 2014. He will continue to race alongside Dutch youngster Max Verstappen, who has a long-term contract after moving across from Toro Rosso prior to the Spanish Grand Prix.
Ferrari may be facing upheaval behind-the-scenes amid regression this year but its driver pairing will remain unchanged, providing some consistency. Sebastian Vettel, who joined in 2015, has a contract which runs until the end of 2017, meaning discussions over his future can be saved until next year. Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, was handed a one-year extension prior to the British Grand Prix, his seventh season at the team, and fourth consecutively.
Williams looks set to dispense with the services of Felipe Massa after three years but its line-up still appears hazy. Valtteri Bottas is a strong candidate to retain with the team he first joined back in 2010, but he has also been linked to Renault, while Williams has publicly courted Jenson Button, whose McLaren future is in doubt, and Force India's Sergio Perez. GP2 frontrunner Alex Lynn and Formula 3 title leader Lance Stroll, both development drivers, are also candidates.
Nico Hulkenberg will stay with the team into 2017, but Perez's future is uncertain. Force India has claimed Perez has a contract and will stay, but this is dependent on the commitment of his sponsors. A move to Renault has been suggested, after the two parties came close to an agreement for 2016. Should Perez leave, a host of names will be thrown into the hat; Mercedes young guns Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon both tested for the squad in 2015. Development drivers Alfonso Celis Jr. and Nikita Mazepin are not feasible alternatives.
The long-term presence of Ricciardo and Verstappen at Red Bull has blocked the path for Carlos Sainz Jr., but Red Bull has faith in the Spaniard and has already taken up its option on him for 2017. Toro Rosso's other seat is between Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly; Kvyat has struggled since his return to the junior team while Gasly is second in the GP2 standings, level on points with Sergey Sirotkin. Do not expect a quick resolution to the quandary as Red Bull will want to keep both Kvyat and Gasly on their toes.
Fernando Alonso will enter the final season of his three-year contract, but it remains to be seen whether Button or reigning GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne will partner him. If McLaren does not promote Vandoorne then it will risk losing his services, for the Belgian is highly-rated by a number of rivals and will not be short of suitors. Vandoorne knows this, and has openly commented that he has set himself a deadline. McLaren is not set to discuss its 2017 line-up until after Monza, though could Button make the decision for them by securing a move elsewhere?
Haas is likely to retain Romain Grosjean, with the Frenchman's path to Ferrari blocked by Raikkonen staying on, but the picture regarding Esteban Gutierrez is blurred. Gutierrez is adamant that he will be on the grid in 2017, but when questioned if this will be with Haas, he has been more hesitant. Brazilian media has touted Sauber's Felipe Nasr as a candidate, with Ferrari youngster Charles Leclerc, who leads the GP3 standings, also on its books. Or, could it plump for Indianapolis 500 Alexander Rossi…
Kevin Magnussen has been eager to emphasize that Renault's project is long-term, but it is by no means certain that he will be part of it. Bottas and, more prominently, Perez, have been linked to the team in recent weeks, with the Mexican wary that Force India will not be able to challenge for the championship long-term. Ocon, who will make his debut with Manor after the summer break, is also a strong contender for 2017, while GP2 title leader Sirotkin is under Renault's wing. Jolyon Palmer's future appears bleak.
Manor will field an altered line-up in Belgium and, as ever with the team, predicting the future is tricky. The careers of Wehrlein and Ocon will be dictated by Mercedes; there may be a situation where one, both or neither of them stay with Manor next season. Rio Haryanto's backers will be pushing for a return, while GP2 race winner Jordan King acts as development driver. Manor has a history of giving drivers their debuts, so will be keeping an eye on junior racers, especially well-funded ones.
Sauber's future has been secured courtesy of Longbow Finance's acquisition of the group, leading to speculation that Marcus Ericsson will stay with the squad, though both driver and team have remained tight-lipped on such suggestions, denying that backers and driver have an association. Should Nasr depart, and should he go to Haas, could it open the door for Gutierrez to return? However, considering Sauber's position in the standings, a cash-laden driver may be required.
08/04/16 A reader writes, Dear AR1, Nice to see AR1's F1 Silly Season page come out and list Rossi as a possible driver at Haas. I am so tired of Leigh Diffey pandering to Gene Haas in the F1 telecasts. Every time he says "America's F1 Team" I want to throw up. I consider Haas to be nothing more than an American owned F1 Team. The owner is a Billionaire. The team boss is from Austria and does not think Americans are decent drivers. It will be "America's F1 Team" when at least one American is a actual race driver in this team. Rossi would be fine. Conor Daly could handle it. I am certain Newgarden would as well. Ira Fierberg
08/02/16 Our annual F1 Silly Season page for 2017 is now live here. You can always find the link above, next to the 2017 IndyCar Silly Season page. We will keep them updated as we get rumors or news related to the Silly Season.