With Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris extending their stays with McLaren and Ferrari ahead of the F1 launches, silly season took an early twist.
Briton Norris in particular was one of the kingpins of the rumour mill given Red Bull's fancy for him should Sergio Perez fail to pick up his performance this coming campaign and though the McLaren driver was originally contracted through to the end of 2025, the extension is likely to have made it more difficult to snap that agreement.
Half of the grid is out of contract at the end of the year, yet as we wrote earlier this month, Alex Albon seems like he will be the key player in silly season - a position the past week has only strengthened.
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Albon Red Bull's trump card?
The recent contract news means that McLaren has joined Mercedes in confirming its 2025 line-up, barring any surprises, with Norris, Oscar Piastri, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell all holding agreements with their teams.
Of the top teams, only Red Bull and Ferrari officially have spaces open with Perez and Carlos Sainz yet to confirm their futures. But the Spaniard at the Scuderia seemingly has two choices - stay with the Italian marque or prepare for a switch to Audi [which will take over Stake F1 from 2026].
So assuming Sainz remains with Ferrari, it leaves Red Bull in a quandry should Perez again struggle. Its number one priority for a replacement would surely have been Norris and, without the Briton, it looks like it'll be a straight shootout between Albon and Daniel Ricciardo.
If form over the past two seasons is anything to go by then Albon would be the shoo-in, thus creating a ripple effect across the grid.
With Albon gone, Williams would have a slot open - likely for an experienced driver given Logan Sargeant, if retained, would still be in only his third season.
Someone would have to plug the gap: Both Aston Martin drivers' contracts expire but it is hard to see Fernando Alonso or Lance Stroll leaving.
Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon also face uncertain futures and Ocon, given his links to Williams Team Principal James Vowles through his Mercedes development could well be an option. If so, that would open a window at Alpine.
Both Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda are contracted to the end of the year with Visa Cash App RB and whilst a switch for the Australian would go against his mantra for returning with the second Red Bull team, his teammate may see value in moving to Grove.
Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu face critical seasons at Stake F1 and with the Audi project looming, Williams could be a fallback for both. The same can be said for Haas' Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg, though for very different reasons.
If Albon did make the move, a huge chain reaction would ensue as teams scramble to fill the gaps. For those on the outside, it is simply a question of waiting for the trigger to be pulled, if indeed it will be.