The domino effect of F1’s driver and engine market was no more clear than in Singapore when all of the announcements came through bit by bit.

But do not go thinking it ended last weekend. There is still plenty that needs to be resolved between now and the end of the season.

Fernando Alonso’s future continues to be a big talking point, but is becoming a less and less interesting topic. In all truth, he can’t race anywhere but McLaren next year - and now it has a Renault power unit, there’s no reason he wouldn’t want to. He appears happy in the team, and apparently won’t be taking a pay cut despite the loss of Honda’s backing. A one-year extension will be the likely end result, giving McLaren 12 months to prove to Alonso it can give him the tools to fight at the front once again.

Alonso is also looking set to further his Triple Crown bid by appearing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year. With no F1 clash for the endurance classic or its test day, and with Honda out of the picture so there is no conflict of interests with Toyota, Alonso is well-placed to get on the grid at the Circuit de la Sarthe, with the idea already being raised with McLaren.

On a separate plane, Williams looks to be a curious story for the driver market. Felipe Massa seemed somewhat downbeat when we spoke with him on Thursday about his future, stressing he wanted Williams to prove it wanted him, not be lumped with him due to a lack of options. He’s not afraid to retire for a second time; he was ready before, and he is ready now.

If Massa does leave, Williams does not exactly have a wealth of options to partner Lance Stroll next year, restricted by sponsor Martini’s requirement to have at least one driver over the age of 25. Were that not an issue, Pascal Wehrlein would be the obvious pick given the team’s links to Mercedes. Instead, the German looks to be on his way out of the sport; a shame given he hasn’t had a proper shot at showing what he can do.

Jolyon Palmer is a possible if uninspiring option for Williams, having been confirmed to be departing Renault last week with the Sainz announcement. Palmer seemed pretty non-plussed about his future, which is strange given there are still options around. Talk is still rife that Renault has offered him a settlement to sit out the rest of the season so it can complete Sainz’s move early, but Palmer seems ready to stick in his heels, with his charge to P6 in Singapore surely helping his cause.

Reports on Sunday suggested that Robert Kubica has emerged as an option for Williams, having been snubbed for the Renault seat. He would certainly provide Williams with a good-news story, something the other drivers would not, and is apparently being lined up to test one of its 2014-spec cars in the coming weeks.

Otherwise, Marcus Ericsson might be the only other option for Williams - again, hardly an inspiring choice given he has scored more penalty points than actual points during his time in F1. This would, however, give Ferrari the chance to place both Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi at Sauber next year, which would be a real good news story for the sport, getting two exciting youngsters on the grid.

The main plays have been made in the driver market, but it is now a matter of completing the puzzle and seeing how everything fits together. A Kubica return would be a very good news story for all involved, but if Renault wasn’t entirely convinced, why would Williams be? All elite F1 teams surely have a similar criteria and benchmark that must be met to be in the running for a seat?

Separate to the bulk of the driver market puzzle is Toro Rosso, which will surely be promoting Pierre Gasly into Sainz’s seat whenever it may become available. If Red Bull wasn’t convinced by his GP2 title win last year, then surely his challenge for the championship in Super Formula - hardly an easy series - will be.

Franz Tost confirmed Toro Rosso would take into account any requests from Honda over a driver, pointing towards Nobuharu Matushita, the Japanese manufacturer’s main outstanding talent.

One of the problems with Matsushita is that he is currently nowhere near being eligible for an FIA super license. A score of 40 points over three years is required, and Matsushita has just four under his belt from 2015 and 2016. A top-three finish in Formula 2 is required to meet the criteria, and while it is not totally impossible, he is sixth as things stand with four races to go. There will need to be a big swing or, controversially, a waiving of the requirement by the FIA if Matsushita is to make the step up.

All of this means that Daniil Kvyat is looking good to stay on for next year, even if there aren’t many compelling reasons for him to do so. Sainz’s charge to P4 in Singapore while his teammate crashed out early was another glaring piece of evidence in the gulf between the two, if the 48-4 points comparison wasn’t already enough.

The future of Red Bull’s junior programme is also something to consider in all of this. While there has been a steady stream of youngsters coming up the ranks in recent years with supply outstripping demand, the tables have now turned. Gasly in the only driver backed by Red Bull ready to move up to F1, and there aren’t any you would think that could do so for 2019, particularly with GP3 racer Niko Kari, a prestigious karting talent, due to be binned off at the end of the year.

Red Bull would be wise to look around for another youngster to join its junior ranks, perhaps one that is ready for F1. Say Giovinazzi were to miss out on a Sauber seat for next year - might Red Bull consider prising him away from Ferrari with the promise of an F1 ride in 2018? Or how about a top junior from F2, such as Oliver Rowland or Luca Ghiotto?

The dynamics of the relationship between Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Honda are of interest for many in the paddock. We should get the first signs of them with the 2018 driver line-up.

The main pieces of the puzzle for next year's grid are in place - but the coming weeks will be particularly crucial in defining where the remaining parts fall.



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