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Formula 1 Spanish GP

What's the latest on F1's 2025 driver market?

Europe's triple-header is expecting to see more dominos fall in Formula 1's driver market

Andrea Kimi Antonelli drives Mercedes W12

Andrea Kimi Antonelli drives Mercedes W12

As F1 heads to its busiest stretch yet, with five races in six weeks until the summer break, more dominos are expected to fall in the 2025 driver market.

Don't expect any sudden moves at Mercedes, as the team has time on its side. It has been clear for a while now that youngster Andrea Kimi Antonelli will be in the car if nothing unexpected happens.

But as long as there is a sliver of hope of getting Max Verstappen after all, Wolff is keeping his door open for the Dutchman as the Verstappens have not yet made a final decision on leaving Christian Horner and Red Bull Racing.

Neither Verstappen nor Mercedes are particularly in a rush. Wolff has Antonelli secured if Verstappen doesn't come, and Verstappen doesn't have to go anywhere either. Therefore Verstappen's decision, which will be made in unison with Helmut Marko, could theoretically be made towards the end of the season.

A lot hinges on Mercedes's competitiveness, as it makes little sense for Verstappen to leave a winning car for 2025 and jeopardise his championship chances. Just a few weeks ago trading a Red Bull for a Mercedes would have been unthinkable, but the Silver Arrows have made significant improvements to their W14 and Verstappen can now sit back and see how their form develops over the summer.

While there is no imminent movement at the top, Carlos Sainz is currently "the cork in the bottle", as Kevin Magnussen described it. "I think a lot of guys are waiting for him to make a move and then eventually all the other pieces of the puzzle will fall. That's the truth of that."

Sainz says he is yet to sign a 2025 deal, with offers on the table from Williams and from Sauber/Audi, with the former seen as the favourite to sign him. His decision impacts drivers vying for the open seats at the aforementioned teams as well as the open slots at Alpine and Haas, with Magnussen, Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas all trying find a spot before the music stops.

Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari

Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

"The decision will be taken soon," Sainz promised on Thursday. "I don't want to wait any longer. I think it's getting to a point where it's obviously taking space out of my head for quite a few weeks now and months and I think it's obviously time to make a decision.

"It's almost impossible to predict who is going to be performing in 2026. And so then ‘25 becomes also important. At that stage, If I cannot predict ‘26 and I don't know who's going to be performing better, then ‘25 is important for me to know. And it is also the long term.

"It is also trying to understand the power unit side. It's trying to understand the team dynamics. All these factors come into play when taking a decision. And yeah, that's why it's taking so long and it's taking time for me to find some time within myself to take the decision."

Audi's shortlist, should it miss out on Sainz, includes four names. Bottas is a known quantity as its current driver. Possibilities also include Pierre Gasly and Liam Lawson, who will be a free agent if he doesn't get promoted to an RB seat instead of Daniel Ricciardo. Audi and Red Bull have been closely linked at group level for years, and it cannot be ruled out that the 22-year-old New Zealander will be loaned out to Audi but still remain part of the Red Bull family.

Alpine exile Esteban Ocon is of interest to Audi too, although he has also been closely linked to Haas, likely alongside Oliver Bearman. "I wouldn't be talking to him if he didn't suit us," Haas team boss Ayao Komatsu said about whether or not the Frenchman fits the squad given the manner his relationship with Alpine is coming to an end. "But he's not the only driver I'm talking to."

The turmoil at Alpine is reflected in the number of drivers willing to consider moving there. Former academy driver Zhou has been linked with the seat, but perhaps the strongest contender is junior driver Jack Doohan. The Australian is managed by none other than Flavio Briatore, who was confirmed on Friday morning as the team's new executive advisor...

Expect a lot of those storylines to reach their conclusion in the coming weeks, as soon as Sainz pops the cork.

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