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F1 team-mate battles: Hamilton pressure is on at Mercedes as rivals clash

F1 team-mate battles: Hamilton pressure is on at Mercedes as rivals clash

F1 team-mate battles: Hamilton pressure is on at Mercedes as rivals clash

F1 team-mate battles: Hamilton pressure is on at Mercedes as rivals clash

Beating your Formula 1 teammate is the first target for all 20 drivers on the grid, and that promises to be more crucial than ever this year.

With the 2025 driver market acting as a subplot that looks set to rumble on all season long, increasing your stock against the other pilot sharing your garage could be the only way to remain in the sport for some.

If their teammate beats them, even race-winning names may not keep ahold of their seat once 2024 concludes, and with only Ferrari and McLaren set in their lineup, anything is possible.

We've taken a team-by-team look at the class of '24 to identify the drivers with the most to prove for their F1 future.

READ MORE: F1 Results Today: Bahrain Grand Prix practice times - Mercedes STUN after Ricciardo flies

Red Bull Racing

All indications suggest we're in for a repeat of Sebastian Vettel's four consecutive years of title wins, with Max Verstappen looking as unbeatable as ever.

The Dutchman is already locked in until 2028, but Sergio Perez's future is as uncertain as ever after another lacklustre season last year.

Should Ferrari, Mercedes, and McLaren close in on Red Bull in 2024, Perez must bring in more points for the Milton Keynes team to add to their World Constructors' Championship tally.

Verstappen did the lion's share of the 2023 work with over double the Mexican's points tally, and, at some point, Christian Horner might prefer to have a more formidable number two to bring more silverware home... and there's no shortage of candidates.

Max Verstappen is firm favourite to see off Sergio Perez again at Red Bull

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton is leaving, and the team's focus will naturally tilt towards George Russell as the separation process ramps up through the year.

Even with additional support, it's not a given that Russell will fare better than Hamilton, though, and the seven-time champion soundly bested his heir in 2023.

The pressure is on Russell to show he can lead the Silver Arrows in the post-Hamilton era, and what better way to prove that than by beating him in the championship by Abu Dhabi's final lap?

READ MORE: Journalist claims Horner ‘messages’ leaked from anonymous email account

Ferrari

You could argue Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz each have more to prove than each other, with their F1 futures facing the biggest challenge of their careers in 2025.

Sainz, however, is the one without a confirmed drive after 2024 concludes, and he has to show that he's worthy of a seat at the top rather than fade into midfield anonymity.

Red Bull and Mercedes each have a spot open, and the Spaniard must demonstrate he's worthy of one, or else he might suffer a fall from grace like Daniel Ricciardo had when stepping out of a front-running car.‌

Carlos Sainz (left) and Charles Leclerc are set for another close battle at Ferrari

McLaren

While every team has the same lineup between 2023 and 2024, McLaren is currently the only team set to field that same partnership for three successive years.

Oscar Piastri's Qatar victory in the Sprint showed that Zak Brown was correct to fight so hard for the Aussie.

Even though it wasn't a grand prix win, it would've hurt Lando Norris to see yet another incoming Australian claim P1 at his team.

As long as McLaren takes a collective step forward, there's no pressure for either driver to outperform the other, but Norris risks personal pride should Piastri find the race pace he often lagged behind on in 2023.

Aston Martin

Fernando Alonso is arguably the most vital puzzle piece in the 2025 driver market, and it's not his on-track performances that will prove the deciding factor for where he ends up, but whatever he does off it.

Judging by two decades of evidence, politics is Alonso's favourite pastime outside of racing, and watching him flirt with other team principals is what I'm looking forward to seeing this year.

Lance Stroll must learn all he can from another world-champion teammate, as there's very little chance the Spaniard will remain in green for 2025 when better options are available.

Fernando Alonso (left) will be looking to continue his impressive form at Aston Martin

Alpine

Perhaps the most difficult-to-read teammate battle of all 10 teams lies at the all-French pairing at Alpine, with Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon sitting in no man's land for their future.

Like Haas's current lineup, the pair represent experienced albeit unexciting hands for any team.

Yet, with so many contracts up in 2024, they're unlikely to be anyone's top-of-the-list phone call to poach away from Enstone.

Gasly marginally beat Ocon in 2023, leading me to think Ocon has the most to lose, especially with Alpine's home-grown Victor Martins as one of F2's title favourites this year.

Williams

Alex Albon's sensational 2023 had the Thai racer single-handedly net Williams their best championship finish for years.

He's gone from being a Red Bull dropout to a potential returnee after his reputational turnaround with stellar drives last season, and continuing that progress might loosen up the 2025 contract James Vowles explained he has with the Grove outfit.

Logan Sargeant can't afford a second whitewashing season, especially without having the rookie shield to defend himself in 2024, but it's Albon who will be trying his best to impress the major players and leapfrog up the paddock.

RB

Daniel Ricciardo's second chance is probably his last, and the honey badger must think he's the logical choice to partner Max Verstappen at Red Bull after being the only other driver to keep close to the Dutchman in equal machinery.

He showed he's not a spent force with his 2023 mid-season comeback, but must now prove he can do so over an entire campaign against a Yuki Tsunoda who has grown in confidence every year.

Tsunoda seems unphased by whoever occupies the garage with him, but I believe he will remain with RB after this year concludes, whether he beats Ricciardo or not.

Daniel Ricciardo (right) and Yuki Tsunoda (left) are looking to impress Red Bull

Sauber

The incoming Audi partnership means that Sauber is not as unattractive a drive as it may seem on the surface for a team that only scored 16 points last year.

Sainz is linked to a drive at the Swiss squad to rejoin Andreas Seidl, showing that those four German rings mean more than past performances, but who would accompany the Spaniard should that rumour prove true?

Valtteri Bottas brings race-winning experience but hasn't destroyed Guanyu Zhou, who has the financial backing to support him.

Bottas' longevity looks more at risk — he'll need to show he's still worthy of a drive, either at Hinwil or beyond.

Haas

Ollie Bearman's six FP1 sessions for this year strongly suggest that one of Haas' 2025 seats will go to the highly-rated British driver.

With Kevin Magnussen acting as Guenther Steiner's go-to great Dane for years, perhaps Ayao Komatsu might seek to assert his authority by breaking clean from the old mentality of his boss.

Should Nico Hulkenberg beat KMag, that split would be a far easier decision for the sport's newest Team Principal, so the pressure is on Magnussen's shoulders, not Hulk's.

READ MORE: Verstappen blasts 'everything is s**' on F1 return

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