Stay? Move? Leave F1? – Predicting the outcome of the 14 out-of-contract F1 drivers

Sam Cooper
Alex Albon, Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso.

With no changes in 2023, 14 drivers now found themselves facing their contract end.

2024 could see one of the silliest silly seasons of all time with almost three quarters of the grid currently out of contract at the end of this year.

After an historic zero changes in the 2023 winter break, 2024 looks set to be one of driver moves as all but six drivers find themselves currently without a deal heading into the new campaign.

While some are easier to predict than others, we have stuck our neck out and guessed what will happen with all 14 drivers heading into their final season.

Sergio Perez – Red Bull

We will start with the reigning Constructors’ champions and one of the most-talked about seats on the grid, that of Sergio Perez.

After his title challenge fell away dramatically in 2023, pressure has been on the Mexican’s shoulders who would go on to finish with fewer than half the points of his team-mate Max Verstappen.

Daniel Ricciardo’s return to the Red Bull family last season was also seen as an ominous sign for Perez – but the Milton Keynes side have not ruled out an extension should Perez meet certain targets.

Those targets will undoubtedly be related to qualifying, where Perez has really struggled, but it still seems unlikely he will continue on past the end of his current deal.

Should Red Bull decide to make a change then a retirement may not be out of the question.

Prediction: Leaves F1

Charles Leclerc – Ferrari

Charles Leclerc may well be a man who is not on this list for much longer with reports that he has already agreed an extension with Ferrari.

It is a deal that works for both parties with Ferrari keeping hold of one of the best talents on the grid while Leclerc stays at the team he loves and the best chance he has of becoming a World Champion.

Prediction: Stays

Carlos Sainz – Ferrari

Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz’s future is less certain. Both parties indicated at the end of last year that they would be open to an extension but reports over the winter suggested they disagreed on the length of the deal.

Ferrari reportedly want just a year extension while Sainz wants two and for the meantime, the Italian outfit are more keen to tie Leclerc down.

But once his contract is sorted, Sainz is likely to be rewarded with a new deal given his performances since joining from McLaren.

Prediction: Stays

Fernando Alonso – Aston Martin

The idea of a 42-year-old extending would seem silly if that driver’s name was not Fernando Alonso.

The Spaniard has proven he is just as good as he ever was after moving to Aston Martin in 2023 and an extension to his deal looks all but certain.

Team principal Mike Krack even suggested as much, when asked if they would look to extend his deal: “I think I don’t have to answer that question. Absolutely.”

Prediction: Stays

Esteban Ocon – Alpine

Esteban Ocon has flown under the radar somewhat and is the joint fifth-longest serving driver of any team having been with Alpine since 2020.

During that time, he has made steady progress including the high of his Hungary win but 2023 was a disappointing year for both driver and constructor.

Heading into his fifth season with the French constructor, Ocon is 27 and still has many more years of racing left so provided it is not a total disaster of a year in 2024, an extension looks likely.

Prediction: Stays

Pierre Gasly – Alpine

2023 may not have been the year either Pierre Gasly or Alpine would have hoped for in their first year working together but that was more to do with Alpine’s problems than the driver.

His high came with a podium in Zandvoort and he has shown enough to suggest he can still improve as his F1 career goes on.

Alpine are unlikely to give up on their new star after two seasons and they would be hard pressed to find a better available driver than Gasly anyway.

Prediction: Stays

Alex Albon – Williams

Another easy one to predict with Alex Albon excelling since swapping the bright light of Red Bull for Williams.

The British-Thai driver has proven just how good he is since making the swap in 2022 and with a better performing car, Albon finished 13th in the 2023 standings, Williams’ best driver spot since 2019.

Him continuing in F1 is assured but the only question is, where? Williams will no doubt be keen to extend his contract but there have been rumours that other teams, notably Ferrari, are also potentially interested.

But Albon seems content at Williams so an extension at least into next year seems the most obvious.

Prediction: Stays

Logan Sargeant – Williams

2023 was a real baptism of fire for American Logan Sagreant who by all accounts, was rushed into F1 a season too early.

He was the last driver to be confirmed for 2024 but it was perhaps more a case of lack of an obvious replacement than a show of faith from Williams.

2024 will be crucial to the career of Sargeant. Show improvement and there is life in his career yet but, perform as he did in 2023, and he will be shown the door.

Prediction: Leaves F1

Daniel Ricciardo – AlphaTauri

What a whirlwind of an 18 months it has been for Daniel Ricciardo. From the sack at McLaren and the real possibility of his F1 career being over to being on the precipice of the quickest seat on the grid.

Ricciardo’s audition for the Red Bull seat was truncated in 2023 due to his hand injury, so his target for 2024 will no doubt prove he can still do it over a season.

He seems like the first in line should Red Bull opt to drop Perez and a mid-season swap is not out of the question either.

Verdict: Moves to another F1 team

Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri

Like Pierre Gasly before him, Yuki Tsunoda appears to have hit a glass ceiling at AlphaTauri with the Japanese driver not having done enough for the Red Bull higher ups to be convinced he is deserving of a shot in the first team.

His performances have picked up year on year but his deal with Honda is no doubt a part of why Red Bull have kept him this long.

Tsunoda is now a pretty safe pair of hands and one who could develop into a consistent point scorer should the AlphaTauri be competitive, so is likely to stay in position until at least the end of 2025 when Honda will move over to Aston Martin…

Prediction: Stays

Valtteri Bottas – Sauber

Having enjoyed his first multi-year deal of his F1 career, Valtteri Bottas returns to the familiar world of future speculation but it does seem likely he will stay in his position.

Sauber is one of the least attractive teams to join right now with the constructor underwhelming in 2023 and unlikely to significantly improve until Audi arrive in 2026, meaning who are they likely to get that is better than Bottas?

The Finn brings a considerable marketing push to the team thanks to his extracurricular activities, something that is important in the modern era, but he is also unlikely to crash and will on occasion get a Q3 spot which is about the best Sauber can hope for right now.

Prediction: Stays recommends

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Zhou Guanyu – Sauber

Since joining F1 in 2022, Zhou Guanyu has failed to pull up any trees and there were even reports that he could lose his seat at the end of the 2023 campaign.

Sauber have F2 winner Theo Pourchaire waiting in the wings and if Zhou again fails to impress, the Swiss outfit could be tempted to give someone new a go.

Prediction: Leaves F1

Kevin Magnussen – Haas

Having outshone Mick Schumacher in 2022, Kevin Magnussen was brought back down to earth by being thoroughly outclassed in 2023.

While Nico Hulkenberg impressed in qualifying, Magnussen on the other hand never really got into a groove last season and was facing uncertain questions about his future.

At 31, Magnussen is not going to greatly improve in the future and his future will be determined by whether Haas want to keep with the experience or give someone like young Ferrari rookie Oliver Bearman a go.

Prediction: Leaves F1

Nico Hulkenberg – Haas

Hulkenberg’s performances in 2023, especially in qualifying, deserved far more than the P16 he ended the year with but it was the car, not the driver to blame.

After two years in the wilderness, the German impressed everyone with his return to the sport and has reportedly put himself on the radar of other teams, including a link to Audi that just will not go away.

For 2025, his options seem more limited suggesting a Haas stay is likely but if the car continues to underdeliver, he may be tempted to try his luck elsewhere even if it is a sideways step.

Prediction: Stays

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