Audi and Mercedes line-ups predicted as David Croft solves latest F1 ‘silly season’

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and Andrea Kimi Antonelli

Could Andrea Kimi Antonelli join Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez on the 2025 F1 grid?

After wild rumours in F1’s silly season, David Croft thinks he has the team’s 2025 line-ups sorted with Sergio Perez staying at Red Bull, Andrea Kimi Antonelli joining Mercedes and Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg making up the all-new Sauber/Audi line-up.

That, of course, is what he thinks will happen and not what has officially been decided.

David Croft’s ‘logical sense’ 2025 F1 driver line-ups

This year’s Formula 1 silly season has been one for the books, kicked into high gear by Lewis Hamilton’s announcement that he would join Ferrari next season.

That not only left Mercedes a driver short but also saw Carlos Sainz in the hunt for a new job for the 2025 F1 championship.

Throw in Red Bull’s behind-the-scenes turmoil raising questions about triple World Champion Max Verstappen’s future, and it’s not just his team-mate Sergio Perez who Red Bull may need, or want as is said to be the case with the Mexican driver, to replace.

It’s been three months of all-out speculation, rumours, and hearsay.

Croft though, thinks he has managed to sort it all out, well all except Zhou Guanyu’s future in Formula 1 which could rest with Pierre Gasly replacing Logan Sargeant at Williams.

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“I think Nico Hulkenberg is going to Sauber and he’ll be there at Audi alongside Carlos Sainz,” he told the Sky Sports F1 podcast. “I think that’s where Sainz is heading.

“Mercedes will bring in Andrea Kimi Antonelli, that makes logical sense, and Red Bull will keep hold of Sergio Perez, because I think that makes logical sense for them as well.

“And then where does Zhou go? Well, he could go to Alpine. Remember, he was a Renault Academy driver so he could go back into that stable again. But then Ocon and Gasly, or both, are going to have to leave Alpine.

“Now Gasly might find himself at Williams and I’m sure he’s been having negotiations with Williams to drive alongside Alex Albon. That does free up a space but they’ve also got Jack Doohan waiting in the wings, he is already very much climatised within that team

“And then you kind of thinking, right Haas? No because I think that will be Kevin Magnussen and Ollie Bearman for next year, and Zhou is not part of that Ferrari stables so Ferrari will want to bring the young Ferrari driver in.

“And then you’re kind of searching for answers on that one. And it probably leads you to the conclusion that we could possibly do with two more teams on the grid. But that’s a whole Andretti’s story.”

The podcast was not the first time in the past week that Croft has touched on the Hulkenberg to Audi rumours having spoken with the German ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend.

Revealing the “paddock rumours suggest” that Hulkenberg will be off to Audi, the Sky Sports pundit asked Hulkenberg about the rumour.

“He was being rather coy with me when I mentioned that to him on Thursday,” said Croft. “He just smiled and said ‘we’ll wait and see, we’ll wait and see’.”

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