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Red Bull Racing

F1 Silly Season 2025: Do the top teams dare to surprise?

We ended the 2023 Formula 1 season with 20 drivers who will also be on the grid at the first Grand Prix in Bahrain. In 2025, however, there are still quite a few question marks behind the contracts of some names. An ideal opportunity for the teams to make changes.

Start Italy 2023
Article
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

In 2026, Formula 1's technical rules are going through a major overhaul, meaning the 2025 season will play an important role in preparation.

As a result, many F1 teams will likely opt for experience in 2025, because you want to perform well in the new era as soon as possible. Experience will often win out over talent in the early years and so it seems that there will also be many experienced and older drivers on the grid in 2025 and 2026. However, there are also some strong talents coming up. As a team, you obviously don't want to miss them.

A dilemma for F1 teams, then. Even though the 2024 season has yet to start, we have listed the contracts of current drivers and also look at the candidates vying for the seats of current drivers for each team.

Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen is still with Red Bull Racing until 2028, and it does not appear that the three-time world champion wants to leave the team early either. However, it will be interesting to see how good the new Ford/Red Bull Powertrains engine will be in 2026. While Verstappen can quietly watch how everything at the team will play out in the coming years, teammate Sergio Perez has yet to wait for a decision on his future. Despite finishing second in the world championship in 2023, Perez did not make a stable impression and that is what he was hired for.

Based on his experience, Red Bull hopes to have in Perez a driver who can perform consistently. That was not the case in 2023, so Perez will have to perform better in 2024. Still, his contract could just be extended if performance does perform well in 2024. Indeed, in addition to the sporting aspects, Perez is also an interesting driver financially for Red Bull Racing. The Mexican market is large and, in addition, Perez himself brings some sponsors to the team.

Drivers vying for Perez's seat are, first and foremost, Daniel Ricciardo and Liam Lawson. The latter left a strong impression at a number of races in 2023, but will not complete a full F1 season for now. The question, then, is whether Lawson will be able to perform alongside Verstappen.

A return of Alex Albon does not seem obvious at this time. However, given his performance, Albon will believe he would do better this time around at Verstappen's side, so no doubt Albon's management will knock on Red Bull's door this year. In fact, given Albon management's short line to Red Bull, this may have already happened. Of course, where the drivers must perform, the managers must also continue to engage in discussions with the various teams.

Preliminary lineup Red Bull 2025: Max Verstappen & Sergio Perez
Options to replace Perez: Daniel Ricciardo, Alexander Albon, Liam Lawson

F1-coureurs Max Verstappen en Sergio Pérez na afloop van de Grand Prix van Italië in 2023 © XPBimages

Mercedes

In 2023 there were some rumors here and there about Lewis Hamilton's future, but nevertheless the seven-time world champion signed on through 2025. Teammate George Russell will also stay with Mercedes until the end of 2025. The question is whether Hamilton will remain with the team after that. After all, he will turn 41 in 2026.

Should he leave, there is just a chance that Toto Wolff will take a risk with Andrea Kimi Antonelli. The promising Italian talent will get a chance to prove himself in Formula 2 in 2024, and if that works out well, he could have a chance in F1 in 2025. Should that scenario play out, with one year of F1 experience, would he be ready to take over Hamilton's seat?

Preliminary lineup Mercedes 2025
: Lewis Hamilton & George Russell

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Ferrari

At the end of 2023, Italian media were convinced that both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz would re-sign with the Scuderia before the end of the year. The year passed and still there are no signatures on the new contracts.

Nevertheless, it seems increasingly likely that both drivers will re-sign for at least two seasons. Leclerc and Sainz would thus be under contract with Ferrari at least until the end of 2026. In Leclerc's case, it seems he will even have the chance to sign a five-year contract.

In this way, Ferrari is clearly opting for a future with Leclerc and Sainz will still wonder if he will not become the second driver. Given the intentions of all parties, Ferrari seems to continue on the same path in 2025 and 2026. Still, drivers like Alexander Albon and Pierre Gasly will be lurking to see if they have a chance to take over Sainz's seat. The longer the contract negotiations with Sainz and Leclerc will take, the more rumors surrounding the Scuderia will come out.

Preliminary lineup Ferrari 2025
: Charles Leclerc & Carlos Sainz
Possible options to replace Carlos Sainz
: Pierre Gasly, Alexander Albon

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

McLaren

Andrea Stella and Zak Brown clearly have a long-term strategy in mind. This included picking several engineers away from other teams and extending both drivers' contracts through 2023. As a result, Lando Norris is under contract through 2025 and Oscar Piastri through 2026. Is this vision and decisiveness going to ensure that we see McLaren become a challenger to Red Bull in 2024 and 2025?

In any case, there is also more clarity at the top of the team, especially since an equity fund from Bahrain now owns the entire shares. At least the foundations for success seem to have been laid at McLaren.

Preliminary lineup McLaren 2025: Lando Norris & Oscar Piastri

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Aston Martin

At first glance, little appears to be going to change at Aston Martin in 2025. We should see both Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll back in 2025. We regularly hear rumours that owner Lawrence Stroll would like to sell the team and the car brand, but for now those rumours remain.

Aramco will be the team's sole main sponsor from 2024, though, and is occasionally mentioned as a possible party to buy the team. Those rumors are still not concrete either. Honda will supply the engines in 2026 and it remains to be seen whether the Japanese want to continue with Alonso. The Spaniard and the Japanese car brand do not have the best relationship with each other, to say the least.

Preliminary lineup Aston Martin 2025: Fernando Alonso & Lance Stroll

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Alpine

Both Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon are facing expiring contracts at Alpine. Gasly has an option in the contract, allowing him to continue driving for the team in 2025. Ocon does not appear to have this option and will therefore have to sit down with the team's management again. Of course, Ocon will also look around, but there do not seem to be many options for the Frenchman in 2025. Ocon will have to prove himself against Gasly again this year.

Gasly, in fact, picked up more points than Ocon in his debut year with the team. Whereas Gasly will be looking for an opening at Ferrari, Ocon seems best to focus immediately on extending his contract at Alpine. At Alpine, he is a familiar face, he won a Grand Prix for the team and as a factory team, always has the chance to make strides forward. Therefore, it does not seem to make sense for Ocon to move to a team that finished below the French racing stable in 2023.

Preliminary lineup Alpine 2025
: Pierre Gasly & Esteban Ocon
Options: Alexander Albon, Logan Sargeant, Felipe Drugovich, Theo Pourchaire, Jack Doohan, Viktor Martins

			© Alpine
	© Alpine

Williams

Also at Williams we see expiring contracts. Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant will see their contracts expire at the end of 2024. Sargeant will have to show substantial improvement to win a new contract, while Albon will initially look to make a step up. Albon is doing great at Williams, so it makes sense that he would hope for a seat with a bigger team.

Those seats are not up for grabs, however, and so at this point it would be a surprise if Albon could make the move to, say, Ferrari or Red Bull in 2025. After all, Sainz appears to be slamming the door at Ferrari, and at Red Bull it remains to be seen whether Christian Horner and Helmut Marko are actually willing to give Albon a second chance. Albon and his management will look around the major teams as much as possible this year, because in the form Albon is in, he seems to be an ideal driver for a top team.

Williams, for its part, will also be looking ahead, however. In 2025, they may well arrive at the start with a surprise. Indeed, rumors are circulating that Kimi Antonelli could make an immediate move to Formula 1 if he performs well during his debut year in Formula 2. Manager Toto Wolff would then be happy to have the Italian in action at Williams, where Mercedes supplies the engines. Thus, the pressure on Sargeant increases before the season has even started.

Preliminary lineup Williams 2025
: Alexander Albon
Options
: Logan Sargeant, Kimi Antonelli, Gabriel Bortoleto, Felipe Drugovich

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

AlphaTauri

The team that no longer wants to be Red Bull's training team, but will still remain a B-team. And so the Italian racing stable will undoubtedly be forced to put a Red Bull talent in the car in 2025. With that, Liam Lawson's chances of getting a permanent seat in F1 seem to be increasing. Indeed, the New Zealander impressed during his debut races in 2023 and, if it is up to Helmut Marko, Lawson will get a seat in F1 in 2025.

Logically, that would be a seat at AlphaTauri, where both Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda's contracts expire at the end of 2024. Ricciardo hopes to make the return to Red Bull after that, while Tsunoda is just hoping to beat his teammate. In that scenario, it will have to be done with a lot of conviction before the Japanese will have a chance at Red Bull.

Because both Horner and Marko seem unconvinced about Tsunoda. With that, a seat for him at AlphaTauri in 2025 is not certain either and so two seats may become vacant at the team. Lawson is then a contender for a seat, and in addition Ayumu Iwasa is also occasionally linked to the team. Honda reportedly wants to push Iwasa's career.

With those rumors, it is clear that the pressure will once again be on Tsunoda's shoulders. The Japanese driver experienced great improvement in recent years, but will need to make another big move in 2024 to secure his 2025 seat.

It will be an important season for Tsunoda, as a strong year could also put him on Aston Martin's radar for 2026. Starting that year, the Silverstone-based team will be in action with Honda engines and the engine supplier may want to see a Japanese driver return to the team.

Preliminary lineup AlphaTauri 2025: Yuki Tsunoda
Options: Daniel Ricciardo, Liam Lawson, Ayumu Iwasa

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Stake F1 Team

Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou are both facing expiring contracts and look set to leave the Swiss-based team at the end of the season. Indeed, in 2025, the team wants to prepare for the future with Audi.

The German car brand owns the team from 2026 and seems to have already set its sights on Nico Hulkenberg. The experienced German driver should play a major role in the team's transition phase. A nice move for Hulkenberg, who in 2026 may just be lucky enough for Audi to build an amazing engine that would allow them to compete at the front. Crazier things have happened in Formula 1, so never say never.

As for the second seat, it is still unclear what the team wants to do in 2025. When Hulkenberg is actually brought in, they will have to decide whether they want an experienced second driver or whether they want to give a young talent the chance. Bottas and Zhou may fall under experienced drivers for 2025, but for now they do not seem to be high on the team's list. Talents abound, but it is still unclear who has the best papers in hand at the moment. Both Audi and the team still have time to decide.

Preliminary lineup: None
Options: Nico Hulkenberg, Guanyu Zhou, Esteban Ocon, Gabriel Bortoleto, Felipe Drugovich, Theo Pourchaire, Carlos Sainz

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Haas F1

Haas went on the experienced tour after lesser performances by Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin. The now departed team boss Guenther Steiner opted for Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen, but performance did not improve much. Indeed, Haas finished last in the constructors' championship.

With Hulkenberg most likely leaving at the end of 2024, there will be at least one seat vacant at Haas for 2025. It could well be filled by Oliver Bearman. The talented British driver will compete in Formula 2 for the second year in 2024 and will have to compete for the title there to make the move.

Bearman does seem to have an advantage as a Ferrari Academy driver, given the relationship Haas has with Ferrari. The team will no doubt want an experienced driver alongside Bearman or another rookie, so Magnussen still has a chance at a contract extension. Perhaps Bottas is also an option for the American team should he not renew at Stake F1 Team.

Preliminary lineup
: None
Options: Kevin Magnussen, Oliver Bearman, Felipe Drugovich, Valtteri Bottas

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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