The 2021 Formula 1 season resumes at the Belgian Grand Prix and along with the raging title fight, driver market talk is set to dominate the headlines.

Traditionally, the August summer break is the time when most discussions get under way (if they haven’t already) between the teams and drivers over their plans for the following year. With plenty of uncertainty and potential for changes up and down the grid, some big decisions are looming.

Here is a rundown of each team’s situation and the current state of play in the 2022 driver market…

Mercedes

With Lewis Hamilton penning a new two-year deal, Mercedes faces a dilemma over who should partner the seven-time world champion next season.

Valtteri Bottas and George Russell are in a straight shootout for the second seat at Mercedes and there is a growing consensus in the paddock that the German marquee is poised to promote its protege after a number of starring displays for Williams.

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff wants a decision made by September to ensure that the driver who does not get the nod has enough time to sort a drive for next year.

Even if the final call comes before then - or indeed has already been made as some suggest - Mercedes may well hold off officially communicating the news amid its ultra-close title battle against Red Bull.

Red Bull

Finding a suitable teammate for Max Verstappen has been Red Bull’s biggest challenge since Daniel Ricciardo’s departure at the end of 2018.

Although he has faced similar struggles to his predecessors in adapting to Red Bull’s car, Sergio Perez has made the strongest case to date.

Perez has already achieved something the likes of Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon before him failed to do by getting a race win under his belt, but he has not been able to replicate his Baku performance again.

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Perez’s results have been solid enough and he has already built a strong relationship with Verstappen, as well as dutifully acting as the Dutchman’s rear-gunner in his battle against Hamilton when called upon.

Red Bull is turning in a strong challenge to Mercedes in the world championship fight but will be hoping Perez makes another step in the second half of the year as it looks to claim a first world title since 2013.

There is plenty of time for things to change - after all, Red Bull waited until mid-December last year to make a call on its second driver for 2021 - but at this moment in time, Perez appears likely to get an extension.

Ferrari

Ferrari is settled with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, who form the best driver line-up on the F1 grid, according to team principal Mattia Binotto.

Leclerc is tied down until 2024, while Sainz signed a two-year deal when he joined from McLaren over the winter. Given the Spaniard’s impressive first half-season at Ferrari, both drivers look set to stay for the foreseeable future.

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McLaren

Like Ferrari, McLaren also have two drivers committed to long-term deals. Following an outstanding start to 2021, Lando Norris put pen to paper over a fresh “multi-year” extension to remain at Woking “beyond 2022”.

Teammate Daniel Ricciardo, a seven-time grand prix winner, started a three-year deal with McLaren this season. Both Ricciardo and McLaren are confident he can overcome his early struggles, with the Australian already targeting a title challenge in 2024.

Alpine 

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F1's newest race-winner Esteban Ocon recently secured his F1 future with a fresh deal to stay at Alpine until 2024, while two-time world champion Fernando Alonso is on course to remain for at least one more season. 

Alonso's F1 comeback was largely influenced by the forthcoming regulation overhaul and the Spaniard agreed a one-plus-one contract on his return to Enstone.

AlphaTauri

Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda look set to keep their AlphaTauri seats for 2022, with team boss Franz Tost indicating at the Hungarian GP that he doesn’t see “any reason to change anything during the summer break on our driver line-up”.

A potential return to the senior team appears off the cards for Gasly, although a prolonged wait for a decision on Perez’s future would end up delaying AlphaTauri’s own driver announcement.

Despite an inconsistent and crash-strewn opening half to his rookie F1 season, Tsunoda remains highly thought of by Red Bull’s hierarchy and the entertaining Japanese youngster’s place at AlphaTauri looks safe for now.

Should anything change, there could be an F1 lifeline handed to Albon, while Red Bull has some highly-rated youngsters including Juri Vips, Liam Lawson and Jehan Daruvala on its junior books in Formula 2.

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Aston Martin

Don’t expect any changes at Aston Martin. Sebastian Vettel already holds a contract until the end of 2022 and it is almost certain that Lance Stroll - son of team owner Lawrence - will continue alongside the four-time world champion.

Williams

Williams believes it is in a strong position in the driver market as it waits on a decision from Mercedes before it looks to sign anyone for 2022.

Russell remains Williams’ number one choice for next year, however, the Grove-based outfit will not stand in Russell’s way if Mercedes comes calling.

Nicholas Latifi finds himself well-positioned to stay put in the other seat after impressing Williams with his performances so far in 2021, though the prospect of a completely new line-up cannot be completely ruled out.

Should Russell leave, Williams has a long list of possible candidates to replace the Briton. Bottas, Nico Hulkenberg and Daniil Kvyat could all find themselves in contention, while Formula E champion Nyck de Vries has also been linked.

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Alfa Romeo

With Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi both out of contract at the end of the year, there could be at least one change coming at Alfa Romeo.

Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur was spotted in Mercedes’ hospitality over the Hungarian GP weekend, fuelling speculation that Bottas is lining up a switch to the Swiss squad in the event he loses his seat to Russell.

A move for Bottas would likely spell the end of Raikkonen’s F1 career, while Giovinazzi’s future also remains uncertain despite a solid start to the season.

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Ferrari test driver Callum Ilott is waiting in the wings should a space open up, as are other future Ferrari prospects including F2 frontrunner Robert Shwartzman.

Sauber protege Theo Pourchaire is an outside bet, though a second year in F2 seems more realistic for the record-breaking 17-year-old Frenchman.

Haas

Despite Mick Schumacher being linked to Alfa Romeo, the German is set to remain with Haas for his sophomore F1 season, where he will be partnered by Nikita Mazepin.

Fielding an unchanged line-up was always part of the plan for the American squad when it originally announced the rookie duo for 2021. There is no rush for Haas to formally confirm this but news is likely to come soon.

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