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  • Writer's pictureRhonan Colquhoun

Who goes where? The drivers vying for 2025 seats #1

Updated: Jun 17

Rhonan Colquhoun 2:15pm 15th June 2024

WITH the confirmation that Yuki Tsunoda is staying with RB for 2025, there are still plenty of seats left to be filled with some big names vying to grab the final spots.

Before any of the 20 drivers turned a wheel this year - the driver market was sent into early over-drive as Lewis Hamilton unexpectedly announced his shock decision to leave Mercedes for Ferrari - and there's been a number of knock-on effects.

With the Brit's departure from the Silver Arrows, one of the most coveted seats on the grid was up for grabs with Carlos Sainz Jr, Max Verstappen, Fernando Alonso and the return of Sebastian Vettel were all heavily rumoured early on.

While Sainz stayed in contention, Mercedes now look dead set on that they will promote their junior driver - Andrea Kimi Antonelli - who has set the world alight, rising through the junior ranks and currently races for Prema Racing in F2.

The 17 year-old will now benefit from a two rule changes granted by the FIA International Sporting Code. Despite Antonelli turning 18 on the 25th of August, there's a bigger chance that he'll be able to take part in a Practice session sooner rather than later which will allow him to gain more experience in current F1 machinery.

Prediction: Mercedes - George Russell & Andrea Kimi Antonelli

The unfortunate victim of Hamilton's move for the Scuderia, Carlos Sainz, looks to have been seemingly looked over by Mercedes as they now focus on Antonelli. The Spaniard would have more than likely wanted a deal longer than one year - something Mercedes were not prepared to offer him.

The early and most obvious contender for Sainz's signature was Kick Sauber which is to be transformed into the works Audi project in 2026. It was rumoured that he had been offered a long-term deal with a substantial pay to go with it but this would mean a backwards step for the 3 Time Grand Prix Winner as Sauber currently lie last in the championship with zero points after nine rounds.

The team have already confirmed that they have signed Haas Driver Nico Hulkenberg as their first signing with the move being confirmed a few months ago. Both of Sauber's current drivers - Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu - are not likely to stay on however Bottas does have a better chance of continuing his stay given he's performed more consistently over Zhou during their time as team-mates.

A surprise contender emerged as Williams made their play for Sainz with the Grove team reaffirming that Alexander Albon will remain with the team. Team Principal James Vowles has made his courtship of Sainz public on several occasions and recently admitted that the team are on the verge of "big name" signings as the team continue their rebuilding process.

It had been rumoured that Sainz has been offered a four year deal - with the option to leave after two years if Williams are not following their projected trajectory. Incumbent driver Logan Sargeant is very unlikely to stay on while Bottas has emerged as the team's prime candidate if Sainz signs with Audi instead.

Between Audi and Williams, it's likely that either Sainz or Bottas will get one of the remaining seats at either team. If Sainz signs for Audi, Bottas goes to Williams however if Sainz signs for Williams, Bottas remains at Audi. Or something like that.

Prediction: Kick Sauber - Nico Hulkenberg & Carlos Sainz Jr

Prediction: Williams - Alexander Albon & Valtteri Bottas

Nico Hulkenberg's current team, Haas, are another team that could have a completely different line-up next season. Reserve Driver for both Haas and Ferrari, Oliver Bearman, made his F1 debut earlier this season replacing the ill Sainz and finishing the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix a highly impressive seventh place for the Scuderia.

With such a performance, the young Brit has been at the top of the list to graduate from F2 - where he currently races alongside Antonelli at Prema - with Haas the most likely landing spot.

Current Haas Driver Kevin Magnussen is still in contention to stay on for a further season but it seems unlikely with the American team looking at other options. Announcing his departure from Alpine at the end the of the season, Esteban Ocon has emerged as a potential signing as well as Sauber Driver Zhou.

Prediction: Haas - Oliver Bearman & Esteban Ocon

Zhou's been a victim of bad luck and carried a lot of misfortune this season as Kick Sauber have struggled on their operations side of the race team. As China's first F1 driver, Zhou is highly marketable and does have instances of good raw speed which makes him a good candidate. This is why he's being considered at not just Haas, but Alpine as well.

The French outfit is eager to re-sign Pierre Gasly after they announced that they are parting ways with Ocon at the end of the year. It was rumoured that the team had already been in early initial talks with Sainz and Bottas but these fizzled out. Ocon's departure opens the door for Alpine to promote within with their Reserve Driver Jack Doohan carrying out an extensive programme this season testing F1 machinery.

Zhou's name is still on that list as he used to be a former Academy driver for Renault/Alpine before making his Grand Prix debut in 2022. Former Haas Driver Mick Schumacher is also reportedly in contention as he drives for Alpine in their Endurance Programme however sources suggest he's down at the bottom of the list.

Prediction: Alpine - Pierre Gasly & Jack Doohan

The only team with only two known drivers vying for the final seat is at RB, formerly known as AlphaTauri, where Yuki Tsunoda has recently signed an extension. The race to be named as his team-mate next season is between 8 Time Grand Prix Winner and incumbent Driver Daniel Ricciardo and the team's Reserve Driver Liam Lawson.

Before his extension, Tsunoda was linked with moves to either Aston Martin, Haas and Alpine with the Japanese driver putting in a number of solid performances so far this season. Tsunoda was looking at other opportunities on the grid as sister team Red Bull have pretty much made it clear that he won't be promoted to the team as Max Verstappen's team-mate with Sergio Perez's recent contract extension.

Ricciardo has so far struggled to match Tsunoda this season but a recent breakthrough at the Canadian Grand Prix - where he scored his first Grand Prix points, not including his fourth place finish in the Miami Sprint - seems to have lifted his confidence.

Ricciardo is currently looking the favourite to retain his seat with other desirable qualities are helping him edge closer to signing on the dotted line. As for Lawson, if he does not get the promotion, he'd be free to look elsewhere on the grid - however, time may be running out for the New Zealander.

Prediction: Visa Cash App RB - Yuki Tsunoda & Daniel Ricciardo

Comment your driver predictions below!


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