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Formula 1

How the 2025 driver market is shaping up - Part 2

In Part 2 of our look at the 2025 F1 driver market, RacingNews365 takes a look at how the bottom top teams are shaping up with plenty of vacancies going.

Bearman
Article
To news overview © XPBimages

In Part 1 of the RacingNews365 round-up of the 2025 driver market, we looked at the top five teams on the grid - where things are looking largely settled beyond that second Mercedes seat.

But lower down at RB, Stake/Audi, Williams, Haas and Alpine, things are looking far more flexible and we start Part 2 with the team where musical chairs will end with one driver being frozen out.

RB - TBA and TBA

There are three candidates for the two 2025 RB seats: Yuki Tsunoda, Daniel Ricciardo and Liam Lawson.

Of the trio, given his impressive performances so far in 2025, including a stunning seventh in Australia, Tsunoda is all but certain to remain for a fifth year with the team. Perhaps for reasons of his temperament, the senior Red Bull team looks set to overlook him once again for promotion, but an RB seat is still a prized possession.

Then comes the other seat, and one of Ricciardo or Lawson will get it.

Ricciardo is only in the seat because he views it as a mean to the end of getting back to Red Bull for 2025, but given Sergio Perez's strong form in 2024 and Ricciardo's own poor start, that is not going to happen.

Rather than looking upwards, he needs to be looking over his shoulder at Lawson.

The Kiwi felt somewhat aggrieved that he was not handed the full-time seat for 2024 having mightily impressed during his five-race stand-in for the injured Ricciardo in mid-2023 and has indicated that he is prepared to leave the Red Bull family to be on the grid.

Red Bull know what Lawson is capable of after being dropped into extreme circumstances for his debut and performing well.

If Ricciardo can't pull himself out of the slump, and quickly, it will be a straight-forward decision for RB bosses Laurent Mekies and Peter Bayer.

Stake F1/Audi - TBA and TBA

Officially, in 2025, this team will still be known as Stake F1 and will be rebranded as Audi for the rules reset that is coming for 2026.

But as Audi continues to ramp up its involvement in the team, 2025 is effectively a dry run for the team ahead of the arrival of the four rings.

In short, Audi would do well to have both of its drivers in place for the 2025 season to bed in and get rid of any preventable gremlins ahead of 2026 - kind of like Lewis Hamilton is doing at Ferrari next term.

So, who is on the shopping list?

The leading candidate is Carlos Sainz, who was booted from Ferrari to make way for Hamilton.

Sainz was angling for a move to Aston Martin but Fernando Alonso's renewal snookered his fellow Spaniard, and with opportunities at Mercedes and Red Bull seemingly closed, Stake/Audi is Sainz's best option.

The three-time grand prix winner's father competes with Audi in the Dakar Rally, and after his win earlier this year, revealed he does speak with his son about Audi's motorsport projects.

For Sainz, the trouble is that this is a medium-to-long-term project, one the 30-year-old might not have the time to invest in, but it is his best, and seemingly only option.

As for his team-mate, both incumbents Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu are angling for Audi, but seem unlikely to be kept on for a fourth season together in 2025.

Vultures are circling, but the smart money would be on Nico Hulkenberg switching over to the team from Haas as the dependable, quality midfield driver Audi would need.

Haas - TBA and TBA

Now, should Hulkenberg leave Haas, that leaves a seat to be filled and unless something goes drastically wrong, it will be Oliver Bearman in it.

New Haas boss Ayao Komatsu is far more open to running a rookie than Guenther Steiner ever was following the Mick Schumacher/Nikita Mazepin experience, although Gene Haas might need a tad more convincing.

Komatsu has spoken warmly of Bearman following Free Practice outings in 2023, and more are planned for the Ferrari junior in 2024, with as many as four opportunities in the two Haas slots and maybe those at Ferrari itself.

Alongside Bearman should be Kevin Magnussen - a perfect benchmark for Ferrari, and F1, to mark Bearman against.

Magnussen is a known-quality as a grand prix driver, good on his day, consistent but not a world-beater and will be nothing more than a perfectly respectable driver.

It was the same with Schumacher in 2022, with Magnussen effectively ending Schumacher's F1 career after getting the better of the German.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Williams - Alex Albon and TBA

Alex Albon is going nowhere as far as Williams is concerned, with a contract for 2025 with James Vowles batting away questions over his lead driver when Albon was linked to Mercedes to replace Hamilton.

So the question then turns to the other car, and Logan Sargeant's time appears to be coming to an end after what will be two seasons.

There is a good driver in Sargeant that he has shown in flashes, but now nearly 30 races into his career, he is yet to put things together consistently and show his potential, whether it be mistakes or not carrying momentum after good practice sessions into qualifying.

His replacement, if he leaves Stake should be Bottas.

His profile fits exactly what Williams needs as it tries to rebuild, with a driver with 10 grand prix wins and multiple Constructors' titles under his belt ideal for that task.

Bottas is not considering retirement, as evidenced by him trying to carry on for Audi's arrival, but a return to the Williams team he made his debut with in 2013 appears the best option all round.

Alpine - TBA and TBA

Although both Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly have expiring contracts, it is unlikely for either to leave the team.

This is owing to other drivers being higher on the shopping list of other teams, and the dive in competitiveness Alpine has shown to start 2024. It is not the form of a team who will attract a Sainz, for example.

Fixes are on the way for the team, with upgrades filtering through in Japan, but it seems nearly certain that Ocon and Gasly will team up for a third season in 2025.

If one does leave, Jack Doohan or Victor Martins will slot in.



			© Audi
	© Audi

RacingNews365's hypothetical 2025 driver line-up

Team Driver 1 Driver 2
Red Bull Max Verstappen TBA - Sergio Perez
Mercedes George Russell TBA - Andrea Kimi Antonelli
Ferrari Lewis Hamilton Charles Leclerc
McLaren Lando Norris Oscar Piastri
Aston Martin Fernando Alonso Lance Stroll
Alpine TBA - Esteban Ocon TBA - Pierre Gasly
Williams Alex Albon TBA - Valtteri Bottas
RB TBA - Yuki Tsunoda TBA - Liam Lawson
Stake TBA - Carlos Sainz TBA - Nico Hulkenberg
Haas TBA - Kevin Magnussen TBA - Oliver Bearman

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Monaco Grand Prix - Free Practice 3