The world of Formula 1 has been turned on its head with several major shifts in the drivers' market.
Sebastian Vettel will depart Ferrari at the end of the year, with McLaren driver Carlos Sainz taking his seat. Daniel Ricciardo will leave Renault at the end of the year to take up the vacant seat left by Sainz.
Vettel's departure from Ferrari, however, left the German in a pickle, because if he fails to secure a racing for 2021, he could well be on his way out of the sport.
In reality, only two seats seem like viable options. Renault needs a leading driver to partner Esteban Ocon next year, but it is unlikely that Vettel would take up the offer to drive for an uncompetitive team. And besides, Fernando Alonso is rumoured to be the hot favourite for Renault.
Then there is Mercedes. Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are out of contract at the end of 2020, but it is a given that Hamilton will resign with the most dominant team in the sport's history. Bottas, however, may not be assured of a racing seat next year.
Does this mean that Vettel can take up the spot?
How do you think will the Mercedes team change if Vettel joins it? Email us.
Sebastian Vettel. Image: Getty Images
Wheels24 readers responded to our
Austen Brabant wrote: "I would love to see Vettel and Hamilton in the same team. It would solve many arguments. I am a Vettel supporter, but I must begrudgingly admit that Hamilton has been the man in recent years. Of course, the car has a lot to do with it. People might say it was the same for Vettel at Red Bull, but the Red Bull was never as dominant as the Mercedes has been. With those double diffuser cars, I believe that Vettel was the undisputed king.
"Then came the hybrid era. This, I believe, was one of three things that contributed to Seb being beaten by Ricciardo in 2014. Firstly, he didn't like the new formula. Secondly, his great friend and mentor, Michael Schumacher, had just had his tragic skiing accident. Thirdly, he had become a father. The result was a poor season for Vettel by his high standards. Sadly, he has never reached those heights again. If he could get the drive at Mercedes, I believe it would revitalise him. To see the two great champions go head to head in the same team would be something to behold. I, of course, will be shouting 'Go Seb!'"
Thomas Mahlangu, also a big Vettel supporter, says that it is a no-brainer to sign his favourite driver to the Mercedes team. He says: "Botas is not aggressive in that Mercedes car, which leads to him under-utilising it. Although I am a Ferrari fan, I think Vettel joining Mercedes is in his best interest, and it will be sweet revenge for what they did to him. I do believe that a Vettel-Hamilton partnership will be very dominant, and the extra pressure Vettel brings can result in healthy competition between them."
Ariana Smith turns the whole apple cart on his head with the following: "I think it would be best for the team to bring in a young driver, which should be George Russell. He is young, which means he can grow within the team, and he can learn from one of the most talented drivers on the grid."
Sebastian Vettel. Image: Chris Putnam/ZUMA Wire
Is Vettel the right man to join Hamilton at Mercedes next year? Firstly, Bottas is the perfect support driver and is there to back Hamilton up when the need arises. Since joining the team in 2017, Bottas and Hamilton never got underneath each other's feet. They never got in each other's way. In that sense, Bottas has played the support role well. But, he does not have the killer instinct a champion-driver has. This lack, however, plays into Hamilton's hands and it does not unsettle the balance of power within the team.
Bringing in Vettel, or Russell, for that matter, can destabilise the team. Vettel will challenge Hamilton at every race and will believe that he needs equal treatment in his bid to win the championship. It could divide the team and cause a major rift between team members.
Russell has admitted to being somewhat jealous of his peers - Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Lando Norris (McLaren), and Alex Albon (Red Bull Racing) - all driving for competitive teams. In contrast, he has to continue in a struggling Williams. If he joins Mercedes next year, he, too, will want to prove a point to the team, Hamilton, and his peers. This could bring about unforced errors and cost the team championship points.
If Hamilton signs a new deal with the team, the best course of action for Mercedes, sadly, is to stick with Bottas. And Vettel, it seems, is on his way out of F1.
Sebastian Vettel. Image: TeamTalk