Silly season has struck early this year. Gone are the days when we have to wait until the winter break for the rumour mill to kickstart and driver's make their moves. Over the weekend, it emerged that a merry-go-round of drivers and engines involving Renault, McLaren, Toro Rosso, Carlos Sainz and Jolyon Palmer has taken place.
It's a relative complicated transition of engines and drivers, so listen good.
The game of Formula 1 dominos starts with Spanish driver Carlos Sainz. Although not confirmed, he is on his way to Renault from Toro Rosso and could be driving for the team as early as the Malaysian Grand Prix next month. The move has been considered a sweetener as part of Renault's deal to end their contract with Toro Rosso early.
The sister team of Red Bull are keen on pursuing a partnership with Honda, who are a certainty to part company with McLaren at the end of this season. Honda will likely become suppliers to Toro Rosso, and that will free up McLaren to sign a deal with Renault.
The main winner of all of this appears to be Renault. They have secured a young and promising driver in Carlos Sainz who will help them move up the grid and secure valuable constructor points. In Nico Hulkenburg, they have a very competent driver who secures them points on a regular basis. However, his team-mate Jolyon Palmer has had a torrid season and is yet to secure any points.
If Renault do indeed cut ties with Palmer and recruit Sainz in time for Malaysia, they have a chance to usurp several teams and stake a claim for P5 in the constructors' title this year.
The other potential winner is McLaren. They have managed to escape their Honda nightmare by teaming up with Renault. That should see an increase in performance next season, however they may have shot themselves in the foot by teaming up with an engine supplier that already has its own team on the grid.
There is very little chance that Renault will provide an identical engine to the one they intend to use in Renault F1 next season. Added to that, if Honda have long-term ambitions in this sport, McLaren have just lost potentially the only independent supplier that can challenge Mercedes and Ferrari in the coming season.
Who will replace Carlos Sainz at Toro Rosso? It appears certain that it will be young prodigy Pierre Gasly. He has been earmarked as a potential future champion and was expected to join the sport over the Winter. Daniil Kyvat, the Russian who looked like he was on his way out at the end of the year, seems to have been handed a stay of execution as a result of this merry go round.
In the longer term, Red Bull are a potential winner. Their fingerprints are all over Toro Rosso's shift to Honda. They will watch Honda's performance at their sister team very closely in the coming seasons, with an eye on switching to Honda very soon if they excel next year and in 2019.