Points finishes of eighth and ninth in the last two races are not a bad return for the former Le Mans 24-Hour winner, but when your team mate has brought home back-to-back podiums it asks some questions. Time is starting to run out for Hulkenburg, he is one of only three drivers to have won the GP2 Championship in his debut season, the others being Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, but that was back in 2005. He made his debut in 2010 but 104 races later he remains without a win. Despite being tipped as a future champion, the 28-year-old is seeing younger drivers get seats at the top teams ahead of him.
Are we watching Jenson’s career come to an end? It’s been an eventful one as someone who was never quite in the right car at the right time until, in bizarre fashion, he was and then he took his chance with both hands. He’ll be remembered as a World Champion but you get the impression that he isn’t quite ready to finish, and replacing Felipe Massa at Williams looks like a possibility. Currently Button is being outscored by Fernando Alonso 18-5, and while he is chipping in with ninth and tenth place finishes, he could do with sticking that McLaren up around the sixth or seventh mark, to show he still has it.
Speaking of the likeable Brazilian, here is another driver coming to end of his career. Massa’s career will be mostly remembered for being Ferrari’s number two driver, and when his chance came in the Prancing Horse he was pipped by Lewis Hamilton to the World Championship. The noises coming from Williams are that he won’t get a new contract, and he’s being regularly outperformed by Valterri Bottas – here is another driver who needs to show the world he still has it, or we won’t be seeing him again next year.
Since his podium in China, Kvyat has had three DNF’s, scored just one point and lost his seat at Red Bull. There’s not too much going well for the Russian right now and he can see his F1 career slipping away from him. His cause hasn’t been helped by Carlos Sainz scoring points in the other Toro Rosso in all but one of those races. Kvyat needs a strong weekend to get himself back on track, and maybe stop Dr Marko giving his seat for 2017 away too early.
Jolyon Palmer / Esteban Gutierrez
Pick one, both for the same reasons. Both Renault and Haas have scored points in 2016 but neither of these two have. In F1, it’s not doughnuts for doughnuts, it’s no drive for next season. Both are being outdone by their teammates, Gutierrez more than Palmer – who has been very unlucky with reliability – but both drivers could do with sneaking into tenth place.