OCTOBER 1, 2016
Silly season sizzling in Sepang heat
Although the top seats are mainly secured, the driver silly season is now in full swing.
The key to the market, it seems, is Sergio Perez.
Indeed, the Mexican sounds so confident of his position that he has even declared a one-week deadline.
But even Force India, his existing team, sounds relaxed.
"It will happen -- we're very confident Checo will be with us next year," said deputy boss Bob Fernley.
"If it takes a week, that's wonderful, if it takes a couple of weeks, so be it. "
If the deal does fall through, Auto Bild suggested the Mercedes-backed Pascal Wehrlein is front of the queue to replace him.
"It's in Mercedes' hands," the young German is quoted as saying.
Perez, meanwhile, would be expected to go to Renault.
Indeed, the French works team is pushing hard for a top candidate for 2017, not even limiting itself to drivers who don't already have a contract.
The latest names being mentioned are Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas, while Carlos Sainz could be traded by Red Bull in exchange for a better engine deal.
"Red Bull knows there are plenty of people who also want me," Sainz told the Spanish media at Sepang.
"We'll see if that somehow propels me towards Red Bull, because Toro Rosso is fine but I want something more," he added.
Sainz's friend Fernando Alonso, however, has recommended Sainz to McLaren for 2018.
When asked about that, Sainz told AS newspaper: "It is always good news that Fernando wants me there because he sees me as a potential world champion, so thanks for the comment."
As for the places at Renault and Force India, it is holding up the rest of the market, including Williams, Sauber, Haas, Manor and potentially Toro Rosso.
Sauber's Felipe Nasr told UOL: "There are many drivers who are just waiting."