Formula One merry-go-round set for hefty shove

Thu Mar 10, 2016 9:20pm EST
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - The clock is ticking for some of Formula One's big name drivers, with world champions and race winners out of contract at the end of the season and a restless young generation eager to take their places.

McLaren's Jenson Button and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, the 2009 and 2007 world champions respectively and both 36, have deals expiring at the end of the year as does Brazilian Felipe Massa (34) at Williams.

Nico Rosberg (30), runner-up to Britain's triple world champion Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes for the past two seasons, also faces contract negotiations having been with the now-dominant team since 2010.

There is no shortage of fast and hungry potential replacements.

"This season, more than others, there are things opening up. It’s no secret. It’s a big prize and that’s why it’s an important season, not only for me," Toro Rosso's 21-year-old Spanish hotshot Carlos Sainz told Reuters.

"It’s my second year and everyone says there’s more pressure in your second year. No. There is the same pressure for me as for every single driver on the grid. It’s an important year for all of us and we are all going to push like hell to get one of those spots."

In Sainz's case, the primary focus is following the familiar path of graduation from Toro Rosso to bigger sister team Red Bull.

But that will require either Australian Daniel Ricciardo or Russian Daniil Kvyat moving elsewhere, as well as him seeing off the challenge of 18-year-old Dutch sensation and team mate Max Verstappen.   Continued...

McLaren's Jenson Button ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix
Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Hoch Zwei