Formula One Driver Carousel: What We Know About the 2025 Grid Ahead of the Miami Grand Prix (2024)

With five races already in the books in the 2024 Formula One season, the action on track is heating up. Max Verstappen and Red Bull have grabbed commanding leads in the drivers’ and constructors’ championships, but behind the scenes, the annual silly season has begun and the carousel of drivers has started to spin.

Before teams take to the grid Sunday at the third annual Miami Grand Prix, let’s take a look at what’s happened so far and what might be on the horizon when it comes to movement around the paddock for the 2025 season.

Who’s on the move

Heading into the season, a handful of seats were already predetermined. Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri will continue to form one of the most fearsome young duos on the grid at McLaren, George Russell will remain at Mercedes, and Alex Albon still has one year left on his deal with Williams. As for the contracts signed in 2024 …

Lewis Hamilton (Ferrari, multiyear deal)

It’s not every day that a seven-time world champion decides to depart from the outfit where he made his case to be the greatest driver in F1 history. However, Hamilton had previously maintained that driving for the Prancing Horse was a lifelong dream and he’ll now get the chance to close out his record-setting career in what could be perhaps the biggest challenger to Red Bull for the foreseeable future.

This year hasn’t been what Hamilton envisioned with Mercedes and he’s currently ninth (19 points) in the drivers’ standings going into Miami. When he joins Ferrari in 2025, the 39-year-old may have his best—and last—chance to dethrone Red Bull and break the stalemate with Michael Schumacher by winning an eighth world championship.

Fernando Alonso (re-signed Aston Martin, multiyear deal)

Consistency is everything in F1 and it’s hard to think of a more consistent force in the paddock than Alonso. Dating back to last season (his first with Aston Martin), the 42-year-old has scored points in 24 of 27 races and finished on the podium eight times.

Team owner Lawrence Stroll has shown a commitment to spending in order to compete in the upper echelon of the grid and keeping Alonso around into the start of the new regulations in 2026 only reinforces that mindset. At that point, along with the addition of new Honda power units, Aston Martin will hope to be well-positioned as a real championship contender.

Nico Hülkenberg (Sauber, multiyear deal)

The latest domino to fall came without much fanfare, in part because reports and rumors had connected the 36-year-old F1 journeyman to the new Audi project for weeks. Hülkenberg also did little to silence the whispers.

Assessing what the outlook for Hülkenberg and Sauber (which will become Audi in 2026) is in the short-term is difficult. The German driver has been a presence in the sport dating back to 2010 but has never stood on a podium. That’s not to say that he hasn’t done a remarkable job at getting the most out of the least, as evidenced by scoring points in three of five races in this year’s Haas. What’s most intriguing here is what becomes of the two current Sauber drivers Valterri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu, especially should Audi continue to look outside of the current roster to round out its lineup.

Arriving in style 😎#F1 #MiamiGP pic.twitter.com/eEdmHtYATi

— Formula 1 (@F1) May 2, 2024

Biggest chips still to fall

Carlos Sainz

From the moment that Hamilton announced his move to Ferrari and Charles Leclerc was revealed to be the team’s choice to keep in-house, the paddock began to wonder what would become of Carlos Sainz. The reveal also seemed to put a massive chip on the 29-year-old’s shoulder.

Sainz has outperformed Leclerc in nearly every race thus far this season, a fact even Leclerc acknowledged prior to the race in China. Had he not had a bout of appendicitis for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Sainz might very well be second in the drivers’ standings going into Miami.

What’s next for Sainz remains unclear, but he has options. Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko said the team was in discussions with the Spaniard’s camp, but admitted that Sauber already had a “lucrative offer” on the table. Should Sainz continue this recent run of success, whichever team lands him for next year should consider itself lucky.

Mercedes’ Second Seat

Replacing Hamilton was always going to prove a difficult task for Toto Wolff and the Silver Arrows, but it’s all the more challenging to have to do so on short notice. Thankfully for Mercedes, Hamilton announced his decision early in the year, giving Wolff and Co. time to get to work.

The most seismic move would be finagling Verstappen away from Red Bull, an option Wolff admitted he’d be interested in earlier this season. The two-time reigning world champion is under contract until 2028, and Wolff recently dismissed rumors that Mercedes had spoken to Verstappen, so a second blockbuster probably isn’t on the way. But with renowned chief technical officer Adrian Newey on his way out at Red Bull, the 24-year-old Dutch driver may be starting to reconsider his future.

If Mercedes is looking for a proven option, Sainz or a reunion with Bottas seem to be the clear routes to take. One thing’s for certain: Wolff needs to make the right pick or he risks seeing his team fall further down the pecking order.

How clean was that? 😮‍💨

Max Verstappen's brave move past Carlos Sainz at the first corner of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix 👏#F1 #MiamiGP pic.twitter.com/TdUBxYqi3Q

— Formula 1 (@F1) May 2, 2024

The Wide World of Red Bull

If anything should feel certain in F1, it’s Verstappen in a Red Bull—though lately even that seems more unstable than ever—but as for the rest of the seats at the two Red Bull-affiliated outfits, uncertainty abounds.

Sergio Pérez’s grip on the second seat at Red Bull seems to change each weekend there’s a race, even though his start to 2024 (85 points) has been as strong as last year’s. When Marko confirmed that talks with Sainz had taken place, he even admitted that Pérez is the clear best option if he maintains his current form.

Turmoil at the front of the grid will also surely have an impact further down at RB, the team formerly known as AlphaTauri and Toro Rosso. Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo, the latter of whom has yet to score a point this season, have been mentioned for months as possible heirs to the second seat alongside Verstappen, but neither driver seems capable of grabbing the reins. As of now, neither driver is even under contract to return to RB, so without some sort of performance improvement, both could find themselves without a spot on the grid when the dance ends.

Names to keep an eye on

Sebastian Vettel

Sure, the return of the four-time world champion seems unlikely given the apparent finality of his retirement following the 2022 season. However, Vettel himself cracked the door back open earlier this year, which immediately reignited the rumor mill. It’s hard to imagine the 36-year-old returning for a seat in the midfield, meaning there are only so many spots for him to land but it’s not out of the question.

Oliver Bearman

The 18-year-old made quite the impression in the paddock when filling in for Sainz at this year’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. A daring drive and seventh-place finish, ahead of both Norris and Hamilton, quickly established Bearman as an intriguing option for a seat in 2025. With Ferrari’s garage now full, Haas or another mid-to-bottom tier team should give the Chelmsford native a quality chance to develop.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli

A budding phenom in the Mercedes development system, Antonelli already got the opportunity to conduct an F1 test with the team at the Red Bull Ring in mid-April. Wolff pumped the brakes on any guarantee that the 17-year-old Italian would soon be making the leap to the grid, explaining that the test was a part of a monthslong plan to continue the young driver’s development. Nevertheless, Mercedes seems to see a future for Antonelli in F1—a future that may be closer than previously thought.

Formula One Driver Carousel: What We Know About the 2025 Grid Ahead of the Miami Grand Prix (2024)

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