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How Hamilton Ferrari move will create F1 driver market chaos

How Hamilton Ferrari move will create F1 driver market chaos

How Hamilton Ferrari move will create F1 driver market chaos

How Hamilton Ferrari move will create F1 driver market chaos

Lewis Hamilton's move to Ferrari has ignited a lacklustre driver market as teams are forced to deal with the shockwaves from one of the sport's biggest stories in years.

With Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris extending their contracts in January, it looked like we might be set for another season of caution in 2025, following 2024's unprecedented changeless line-up.

That changed on February 1, however. One move has opened the door to chaos, and the permutations for who ends up where will see further unexpected signings, rookie opportunities, and veterans unwillingly retiring ahead of 2025.

READ MORE: F1 Driver Salaries 2024: Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton WAY out in front

Lewis Hamilton will join up with Ferrari ahead of the 2025 season
Lewis Hamilton will replace Carlos Sainz at Ferrari in 2025

Mercedes 2025 F1 Seats

The most obvious open seat is the one that Hamilton is vacating, and no matter what message the seven-time champion's departure sends about the direction of Mercedes, it is the most attractive of all available.

A frenzy of phone calls to agents and managers in the wake of the Ferrari announcement will mean Toto Wolff won't be short on options, and whatever he decides to do will ripple throughout the paddock.

Fernando Alonso, Alex Albon, Esteban Ocon, and Daniel Ricciardo are all equally viable shouts, and it becomes a backfilling exercise for the other teams should any of this quartet step in and leave their current employer.

Carlos Sainz and Mercedes Junior sensation Andrea Kimi Antonelli are also options, with the former being the cleanest choice in what would effectively be a straight swap and the latter representing a gigantic gamble.

Ironically, Sainz signing would put the brakes on silly season with a Hamilton-Sainz switch, but the problem for the Silver Arrows is Sainz's impressive Scuderia seasons will have him in high demand.

Rumours about the might of Audi wanting Sainz in the wake of the Spaniard's old McLaren Team Principal, Andreas Seidl, joining ahead of their 2026 arrival have existed for months, and you can't rule out Aston Martin's deep pockets paying to secure a younger driver to replace 42-year-old Alonso.

That interest could force Wolff's hand to swoop in for Sainz to settle the rocking Brackley boat sooner than later, but whoever joins simply can't replace one of F1's all-time greats.

Red Bull & Visa Cash App RB 2025 F1 Seats

All the furore about who steps in for Hamilton at Mercedes seems to have overshadowed the fact that Max Verstappen's Red Bull teammate for 2025 is also unknown.

Sergio Perez could be on his way out of the door at Red Bull

After some relatively mediocre years, Sergio Perez is unlikely to be the one to catch Wolff's attention, and he's also far from certain to stay with Christian Horner's outfit.

Much of 2023's non-existent silly season focussed on the believable threat to the Mexican's F1 longevity, and I don't see that changing in 2024 unless he begins outclassing the champion Dutchman alongside him.

Ricciardo is back in the Red Bull family, too, with no one ruling out a return to the top team for the Aussie.

Don't forget the oddly believable rumours of Alonso joining the Milton Keynes team when the pressure on Perez was at its peak, either.

Sainz, too, had Red Bull backing in his earlier years and rose to F1 alongside Verstappen at Toro Rosso in 2015; it'd be poetic for the two to come back together a decade later.

As for VCARB, the second RB team, 2024 will show if the claims they are no longer a junior team are correct, and if so, there could be a home for Verstappen, Perez, Alonso, AND Ricciardo within the Red Bull ranks, a tantalising prospect.

Aston Martin 2025 F1 Seats

Officially speaking, the green team has two seats available for next year, but we know one is Lance Stroll's.

The other, however, is anyone's for the taking, as the Silverstone squad need Alonso a lot more than Alonso needs them.

Fernando Alonso has been rejuvenated by his Aston Martin team

If they start 2024 as explosively as they did 2023, they might tempt the Spaniard to stay, but you have to think Alonso will be far more interested in proven frontrunners Mercedes or Red Bull should Aston remain around the midfield.

Albon, Ocon, and Ricciardo could all see Aston Martin as a step up from their current homes, especially with the sizeable investment from Lawrence Stroll's team into their new facilities, and 2022 Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich is also waiting in the wings.

Alpine 2025 F1 Seats

An all-French partnership of Ocon and Pierre Gasly didn't materialise into an unworkable and unfriendly fight as some thought when the two joined together in 2023.

However, it's hard to see either driver being too enthused about Alpine's uncertainty after a summer of surprise dismissals and a mostly unremarkable campaign.

Both will undoubtedly explore if drives elsewhere are possible, and Alpine might be a safe landing for someone like Perez should he lose his Red Bull drive.

However, I can't help but think that Alpine represents two of the more anonymous seats on the grid with the others in play, and graduations for either or both Jack Doohan and Victor Martins from the Alpine Academy might be necessary.

Stake F1 Team 2025 F1 Seats

An interim period before the Stake F1's Audi partnership means a driver like Sainz might be content with a holding pattern season in 2025 before hoping 2026 changes everything.

Valtteri Bottas is a safe pair of hands for the Swiss outfit but perhaps is a driver whose stock is sliding rather than climbing.

Guanyu Zhou hasn't underperformed since his Formula 1 graduation, but Sauber Academy's youngster could easily replace him in 2025.

2023 F2 champion Theo Pourchaire or their newest recruit, Zane Maloney — the boy from Barbados — will want to step up.

Williams 2025 F1 Seats

Of all the teams on the grid, Mercedes having an open seat could have the biggest effect on Williams, depending on who joins George Russell at Brackley.

Alex Albon has had a new lease of life with the Williams team

Albon's stellar 2023 has transformed his reputation, and he is a viable option to join the Silver Arrows, possibly leaving Williams without the man who has become a talisman at Grove.

READ MORE: F1 Schedule 2024: Full calendar with all you need to know about every grand prix

Should Antonelli live up to his reputation in F2 this year, the upside for Williams is they might inherit the Italian for 2025 to hone his craft like Russell did for the three years before Albon's arrival.

Equally, however, Williams' academy is full of talent and taking in Antonelli ahead of their F2 representatives, Zak O'Sullivan and Franco Colapinto, could appear insulting.

That doesn't even mention 2023's academy graduate, Logan Sargeant, who will have 46 races more experience than any of them come the end of 2024.

Haas 2025 F1 Seats

Ferrari's other F1 news from February 1 was slightly overshadowed by the Hamilton contract but offered another insight into the 2025 seat situation.

Ollie Bearman, the Scuderia's British academy driver, will feature in six FP1 sessions this year, which suggests a deal with Ferrari's long-time partner Haas is all but done.

Without Guenther Steiner's backing, Kevin Magnussen's F1 days might be over, and Nico Hulkenberg could be looking over his shoulder, too.

Ayao Komatsu could seek to establish his Haas leadership by cleaning house and bringing in his own signing to join Bearman.

Irrespective of their unattractive back-of-the-grid position, there will be plenty of options with the inevitable collateral damage in the upcoming silly season.

READ MORE: F1 2024 driver line-up: Full grid confirmed


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