Date: 31st August 2017 at 7:00pm
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It’s the annual silly season in Formula One, but it appears the title leader Sebastian Vettel and rival Lewis Hamilton are not playing games.

The German driver is out-of-contract with Ferrari at the end of the season. He had been linked with a switch to Mercedes and whilst that always seemed improbably whilst Lewis Hamilton was with the Silver Arrows it still appeared a likely option.

But if it is, it won’t be any time soon as the former four-time Formula One World Champion has committed to Ferrari.

He hasn’t even signed a one-year-deal to keep his 2019 options open, instead he has signed a brand new three-year-deal.

‘I love this team, I believe Ferrari has something unique, something that other teams don’t have.

‘Two years ago we said we wanted to get back on top and I think we are on the right road. We aren’t where we want to be yet, but we are striving for the top.
Vettel told Sky Sports during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.

‘I want to achieve a lot with Ferrari and I think it’s the same on the other side. When people talk about legend then to me, it appears this legend is still alive.

‘It’s extremely great to be part of that family and in a way, it was a no-brainer to continue.’

With that move signed up, along with Kimi Raikkonen for 2018 that means both Ferrari seats are taken for the immediate future.

It also means the unlikely move of Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari is now off, as there seems little chance Vettel would approve of such a move.

‘It’s definitely a dream for every driver, including me [to drive for Ferrari], Whether or not l will ever be there?I guess definitely not in the next four years or whatever it is – three years [whilst Vettel’s there].

‘I know Seb doesn’t want to be my team-mate, He wouldn’t be in the position he is now in his team, in terms of how the team operates, if he was here [at Mercedes].’
Hamilton told Sky Sports in Belgium.

So with that door closed, it now appears a formality that three-time Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton will remain at Mercedes beyond 2018.

‘I’m not trying to weigh up my options and if l was l would phone up Toto and say ‘look, I am just doing due diligence and seeing what options are available.’ But currently l have no plans to do that.’ Hamilton told Sky Sports ahead of the Italian Grand Prix weekend.

l plan to extend with the team, which we will do as some point in the second half of the season or towards the end of the year,’

Who will be next to take a seat for 2018?

Valtteri Bottas is expected to sign at least a one-year-deal to remain with Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton.

Red Bull Racing are locked in with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, however both are out-of-contract at the end of 2018 and both are linked with either a move to Ferrari to drive alongside Sebastian Vettel or with Mercedes to partner Lewis Hamilton.

Renault will run with Nico Hulkenberg in 2018, but could see a Spaniard join the ranks, either two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso if he opts to leave McLaren or Carlos Sainz from Toro Rosso.

Meanwhile at Force India, the partnership of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon appears to past the point of no return and is irreversibly broken. Ocon has a contract for 2018, so what does that mean for Perez?