F1 silly season predictions reloaded: The 10 drivers to fill remaining F1 2025 grid slots

Oliver Harden
A four-image collage featuring Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas with the PlanetF1.com logo in the middle

How will F1's game of musical chairs play out this time?

So how will F1’s silly season play out this time? This weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix will mark the start of a breathless run of races until the summer break in August.

Conversations will be had and deals will be done over the coming weeks, but who will end up where when the F1’s annual game of musical chairs goes silent? With a prized seat at Mercedes still available for F1 2025, let’s predict how all this will end…

Carlos Sainz to Mercedes

PlanetF1.com reported ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend that Carlos Sainz has been ruled out of contention for a Mercedes seat for F1 2025 seat, at least for the foreseeable future.

That last part is the important bit, for while Merc may be excited by the potential of boy wonder Andrea Kimi Antonelli, if push came to shove would Toto Wolff – among the most emotionally intelligent leaders in modern sport – really so readily pile so much pressure on one so young?

F1 silly season: All the key details

👉 The 10 drivers out of contract at the end of the F1 2024 season

👉 F1 2025 driver line-up: Who is already confirmed for the 2025 grid?

Sainz has often spoken of the need to take as much time as he needs to make the right decision for his F1 future to find the perfect destination for him and his long-term career prospects.

If – if – he is brave enough to hold out a bit longer, he could be ultimately rewarded with a Mercedes drive.

Sergio Perez to stay at Red Bull

Yes, we know he can be erratic and slow and uninspiring at times – but do not underestimate the role of Sergio Perez in allowing Max Verstappen to scale such impressive heights over recent years.

Committing to him now amid the rise of McLaren and Ferrari – both with driver lineups to die for – represents a risk for Red Bull, but the dynamic Perez has with Verstappen is something they should be wary of throwing away unless absolutely necessary.

By being Sergio Perez, he lets Max Verstappen be Max Verstappen.

And if that ain’t broke, why try to fix it? Since the time of initial writing, Perez has now been confirmed to be staying at Red Bull for the next two seasons.

Esteban Ocon to Audi

When an F1 team boss publicly threatens to bench a driver for race, as Bruno Famin did to Esteban Ocon after the Monaco Grand Prix, that relationship is heading only one way.

And so it transpired on Monday as Alpine announced that Ocon will leave the team at the end of the season.

Despite his relatively low profile and his reputation as a difficult team-mate, Ocon is thought to feature very high on Audi’s shortlist if top target Sainz is unattainable.

We reckon he will become Nico Hulkenberg’s team-mate for F1 2025 as Audi get a solid if unspectacular – and not to mention exceedingly tall – driver lineup in place a year in advance of their F1 2026 entry.

Oliver Bearman to Haas

From the moment he stepped in to Sainz’s Ferrari and delivered a seventh-place finish in Saudi Arabia in March, Oliver Bearman has seemed destined to race for Ferrari customers Haas in F1 2025.

Even if the F2 results so far this year have been relatively modest, that night in Jeddah was enough to know that Bearman is ready.

Yuki Tsunoda to Haas

With no future at Red Bull no matter what he does, and Aston Martin unlikely to take him with or without Honda, is now the time for Yuki Tsunoda to take his destiny into his own hands?

Having established a clear advantage over Daniel Ricciardo in early F1 2024, his reputation is at an all-time high and Tsunoda recently revealed that he has attracted interest from potential suitors.

The influence of his countryman Ayao Komatsu, the Haas team principal, could be significant when Tsunoda comes to make a final decision on his future.

It is tempting to imagine Komatsu almost stepping into the role of Franz Tost and acting as a mentor to Tsunoda, helping him smooth out the last of those rough edges.

Valtteri Bottas to Williams

Multiple reports last month, verified by PlanetF1.com, claimed Valtteri Bottas is set to rejoin Williams in F1 2025.

Is he the most exciting option Williams could have? No.

But is he a marked improvement on what they have in the second seat alongside Alex Albon now? Definitely.

Daniel Ricciardo to stay at RB

If Red Bull were ever going to blink, drop Perez and hand Daniel Ricciardo back his old seat alongside Max Verstappen, they would have done it towards the end of last year when Checo had hit rock bottom.

But they didn’t.

And when Perez then recovered his poise with an encouraging start to F1 2024, Ricciardo’s dream of a return to Red Bull died.

Now in his mid-30s, and having stabilised his own performances over recent weeks after a rough start to the new season, Daniel is showing RB he can be a valuable asset to the team for next year and potentially beyond.

Liam Lawson to RB

If there were any justice in the world, Liam Lawson would already be racing for RB in F1 2024 and marking himself out as a future option for Red Bull’s senior team.

Helmut Marko revealed some weeks ago that a clause in Lawson’s contract will allow him to walk away from Red Bull entirely if he is not promoted to a permanent seat for F1 2025.

Rather than lose him, we think they will use him when Tsunoda heads to Haas.

Pierre Gasly to stay at Alpine

Few moves in the recent history of F1 have looked so right on paper (French driver, French team) yet turned out so horribly wrong.

Everyone’s favourite plucky underdog at AlphaTauri, a hero even if just for one day at Monza, Gasly has faded into F1’s background since making the move to Alpine in F1 2023.

He is out of contract at the end of the year, but for some reason – and unlike his team-mate, who has coped better in a bad situation so far this season – does not appear to feature prominently in the thoughts of other teams for F1 2025.

As Ocon looks to find a potential Alpine escape route, Gasly faces the prospect of being stuck exactly where he is.

Jack Doohan to Alpine

Alpine’s second seat? Anyone’s guess, this one.

After the self-inflicted wounds of recent years, few active drivers will be queuing up to race for Alpine next season. Close your eyes and you can picture the team starting all over again from Ground Zero.

So will Alpine choose a money option and offer an F1 lifeline to former junior Zhou Guanyu – with all the reach in the Chinese market that would inevitably bring – or Felipe Drugovich, one of the few F2/GP2 champions to be denied an F1 promotion, as Gasly’s team-mate?

Or will Ocon’s exit hand Jack Doohan the opportunity he’s been patiently waiting for?

Doohan might just surprise a few people, you know.

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