Sunday, June 16, 2024

Formula One 2025: Who replaces Hamilton at Mercedes and where does Sainz go?

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The future of several Formula One drivers was confirmed in the last week as the 2025 driver line-up starts to take shape.

Sergio Perez was locked in at Red Bull for another year while Yuki Tsunoda was confirmed by RB and Esteban Ocon’s Alpine exit was announced.

But with plenty of unanswered questions and increasing speculation, the PA news agency takes a look at what is still to be resolved.

Who has been confirmed?

Lewis Hamilton triggered an intriguing driver market shake-up when he confirmed he was quitting Mercedes after 11 years and six world championship titles to make a blockbuster move to Ferrari after this season.

That meant Carlos Sainz, the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race last year, was leaving the Scuderia with Charles Leclerc confirmed as Hamilton’s team-mate for 2025.

Red Bull announced earlier this week Perez had agreed a new deal until the end of 2026, partnering Max Verstappen at the sport’s dominant team.

McLaren have locked in Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri for 2025 and beyond, Fernando Alonso extended his stay with Aston Martin, George Russell has a Mercedes seat, Tsunoda is staying at RB, Alex Albon at Williams and Nico Hulkenberg is swapping Haas for Sauber.

What happens next?

Sainz is on the lookout for a new team (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)

Sainz is the big player still in the market. Despite being regarded as one of the best drivers on the grid, the Spaniard appears to have run out of options at leading teams.

Red Bull retaining Perez, despite the Mexican’s struggles, closed that door and Mercedes do not appear to be looking at Sainz as Russell’s partner.

That leaves the Spaniard seemingly choosing between Williams and Sauber – who will become Audi in 2026 – as he admitted this week he is looking for a “medium-to-long-term project”.

Williams are making no secret of their desire to bring Sainz on board in place of Logan Sargeant, with team principal James Vowles saying he is their “number one target”.

Young Englishman Oliver Bearman has reportedly agreed to join Haas for 2025 after impressing in a stand-in display for Ferrari this season and Aston Martin look set to confirm Lance Stroll will remain Alonso’s partner.

Who replaces Hamilton?

It would appear the Silver Arrows are leaning towards throwing young prodigy Kimi Antonelli in at Formula One’s deep end.

Team principal Toto Wolff told Sky Sports F1 this weekend: “We want to focus on Kimi, that is our future.”

The 17-year-old Italian, who was fast-tracked to F2 this season, has been labelled the “real deal” by technical director James Allison and looks certain to get the second Mercedes seat next season.

Which other drivers could be on the move?

Esteban Ocon's Alpine exit was confirmed this week
Esteban Ocon’s Alpine exit was confirmed this week (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP)

Tsunoda’s RB team-mate is not certain. Daniel Ricciardo had a well-timed strong weekend in Canada – qualifying fifth and finishing eighth – after high-profile criticism of his displays and with Liam Lawson waiting in the wings.

Alpine announced Esteban Ocon’s exit earlier this week but are expected to retain Pierre Gasly. He could be partnered by Australian Jack Doohan, who briefly drove in first practice in Canada, while Ocon made clear his aim to stay in F1.

Sauber have not announced a partner for Hulkenberg, with Valtteri Bottas looking likely to leave and possibly be on Alpine or Haas’ radar. Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu is also yet to secure his future.

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