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2024 f1 drivers lineup group photo bahrain grand prix

Who goes where? Alpine axing Ocon reignites F1 Silly Season

2024 f1 drivers lineup group photo bahrain grand prix Who goes where? Alpine axing Ocon reignites F1 Silly Season

With ten current Formula 1 drivers out of contract at the end of 2024, Esteban Ocon was made redundant to Alpine F1 Team’s future plans and with it reignited the highly volatile 2025 Silly Season again.

Lewis Hamilton’s shock move to Ferrari, announced on February 1 was the first big news which means Mercedes has big shoes to fill with options ranging from a rookie in Kimi Antonelli to fairytale speculation that Toto Wolff may lure Sebastian Vettel out of retirement.

However, Ocon’s sudden but unsurprising departure from Alpine also puts the Frenchman on Mercedes’ shopping list for a driver to partner George Russell. After all, he is Wolff’s protégé.

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F1 teams with both confirmed drivers for 2025 are few. Ferrari have Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton. McLaren have Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri. Aston Martin will keep Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll.

All the others face uncertain futures until teams announce their drivers. Apart from Mercedes and Russell, other teams with drivers confirmed for 2025 are Alex Albon with Williams, Nico Hulkenberg with Sauber, and Max Verstappen with Red Bull.

Current F1 drivers out of contract for 2025:

DriverTeamStart of contractEnd of contract
Sergio PerezRed Bull20222024
Carlos SainzFerrari20222024
Pierre GaslyAlpine20232024
Esteban OconAlpine20212024
Logan SargeantWilliams20232024
Daniel RicciardoVCARB20232024
Yuki TsunodaVCARB20232024
Valtteri BottasStake F1 Team Sauber20222024
Zhou GuanyuStake F1 Team Sauber20232024
Kevin MagnussenHaas20232024

As mentioned above Mercedes have a myriad of options to consider in this Silly Season. Carlos Sainz is the most ‘valuable driver asset’ on the market whose form would suggest he would have the pick of whatever team. But the delay in confirming a deal for 2025 suggests it is not easy pickings for the highly rated Spaniard.

A year at Sauber for Sainz before the Audi F1 foray in 2026 seems suitable and sensible. But how many years before they turn the now sorry Hinwil operation into a winning team?

Zhou Guanyu’s support during the Grand Prix in Shanghai was a revelation. It will be a strange one if F1 do not find a way to keep the Chinese driver in the field. A year more with Sauber would come as no surprise.

Who will partner Max at Red Bull?

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing, Third placed Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Oracle Red Bull Racing Head of Car Engineering Paul Monaghan celebrate on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Red Bull are most likely going to give Sergio Perez another year. Some say an announcement to that effect is imminent. Perhaps to boost the Mexican veteran’s confidence. They also realise there is no one on their books in Verstappen’s league. With Checo they have the best they can get, which seems to be the strategy. But weekends like Monaco will not go down well.

Red Bull could slot Sainz in there for a year and see how that goes but Carlos and Max have history. One can imagine Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda breaking many cars as they chase and get blown away by Verstappen. While both the Japanese driver and the Aussie are likely to remain at VCARB but the calls for Liam Lawson to get his break are increasingly hard to ignore.

Dan has not delivered since he was paid to leave McLaren where he was at the nadir of his career. Has he improved? The lifeline flung out by the team he began with has not suggested a return to RBR is due. Yuki has the better of him too regularly. The Ricciardo of the old Red Bull days remains AWOL. His marketability keeps him in the seat. But that too hinges on results eventually.

Haas are reportedly not renewing Kevin Magnussen’s deal, with some suggesting Ocon will be at the team next year alongside Ferrari-protégé Oliver Bearman. The latter option makes sense but the Alpine reject signing for the American team is a recipe for disaster. Time will tell what plans Gene Haas has in store this Silly Season.

Renault to sell Alpine F1 Team to Andretti Global?

Michael-Andretti-gm general motors

Gasly is likely to remain with Alpine for continuity’s sake. However, the team is so badly managed with a brain drain of note, prompting suggestions Renault are going to pull the plug on the project and remain as an F1 Power Unit supplier with Andretti Global eager to step in with an offer. But then there is obscene talk that Flavio Briatore might be back at the helm.

Until that or the ‘sale’ happens, Alpine have a seat to fill in 2025. Jack Doohan is next inline from the Alpine academy to step up, should the French outfit dig into its own homegrown talent pool.

If Williams under James Vowles leadership is seriously bullish about taking the team back to the top of F1 where they once ruled, ditching Logan Sargeant is a must. Albon needs a teammate that can test him, bring more to the party and crash less.

With Hulkenberg at Hinwil, a possible return to Williams for Bottas is possible. Not a bad move as the Finn comes with experience and will test Albon a great deal more than Sargeant can. But then Sainz is also talking to Vowles.

In the end, no one outside the drivers, their management teams and the F1 team bosses know what’s happening. Expect surprises as the 2025 Silly Season is only just beginning

Confirmed 2025 F1 driver line-ups

Team DriversCandidates
Red Bull Verstappen
TBC

Perez, Tsunoda, Sainz
FerrariLeclerc
Hamilton

MercedesTBC
George Russell

Antonelli, Ocon, Vettel, Schumacher
McLarenLando Norris
Oscar Piastri

Aston MartinLance Stroll
Fernando Alonso

AlpineTBC
TBC
Gasly
Doohan, Pouchaire
WilliamsAlex Albon
TBC

Bottas, Sainz, Antonelli
VCARBTBC
TBC
Ricciardo, Lawson
Tsunoda
HaasTBC
TBC
Ocon, Bottas
Bearman
Stake SauberNico Hülkenberg
TBC

Sainz