While there was zero driver movement between the last race of F1 2023 and the first of F1 2024, expect the next 12 months to be carnage on the driver market…
Astonishingly, not a single driver left their seat after the final race of 2023, with every team remaining faithful to the driver line-ups that took part in the final Grand Prix of 2023.
It’s the first time it’s ever happened in Formula 1 but, with plenty of contracts up for negotiation going into 2024, the next 12 months will be very, very different. Here are the drivers who will all be eager to get their contracts renewed to stay on the grid for F1 in 2025…
Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
With Max Verstappen locked into a deal that takes him close to the end of the decade at Red Bull, Sergio Perez has no such comfort. The Mexican driver, who signed a two-year extension around the 2022 Monaco GP to see him through to the end of 2024, is under significant pressure to keep his place with the team.
Despite his second-place finish in the 2023 Drivers’ Championship, Perez’s inconsistency and inability to exploit the RB19 to its full extent will be a huge concern for Red Bull if the competition is even a little bit closer.
But the good news for Perez is that his fate is in his hands, for now. With Daniel Ricciardo a threatening presence in the AlphaTauri, Perez has been given clear instructions on what Red Bull want to see from him in 2024.
If he can achieve some consistency and keep his nose clean, he’ll have a chance at staying on as Verstappen’s teammate. If not, then time might just run out on his Red Bull career…
Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
The Spaniard is also heading into his last year with Ferrari and, while the same long-term deal hasn’t been mooted as a possibility for Sainz, team boss Fred Vasseur has also indicated a desire to see him stay on at the team beyond his current deal.
Speaking before Christmas at an event for sponsor Estrella Galicia, Sainz said the aim is to have a new deal with Ferrari confirmed before the 2024 season kicks off in Bahrain.
“We have to agree, and we have three months ahead of us to do it,” he said.
“Until the first race of the World Championship. Obviously, I want to renew and I would like to do it for more than a year. I feel perfectly valued by Fred and the entire Ferrari family and as a driver, that is your main priority.”
Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)
The Spaniard is having an Indian summer period in his career, having walked away from the sport at the end of 2018 – only to return with Alpine for 2021.
A switch to Aston Martin for 2023 looked like a strange side-step, but Alonso timed his move to perfection as the team climbed the ranks to have one of the quickest cars at the start of 2023.
While that competitiveness wasn’t maintained all year, both Alonso and Aston Martin seem very satisfied with each other, with Alonso showing no signs of the frustration that he couldn’t keep a lid on at previous teams.
Team boss Mike Krack isn’t playing games either, he’s bluntly said he wants to keep Alonso around beyond 2024 – will Fernando put pen to paper for a deal to extend his career to almost 25 years?
Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
Ocon signed a new three-year deal with Alpine in the middle of 2021, with the Enstone squad showing their faith in his abilities.
However, three years later, Ocon and Alpine remain mired in the upper midfield and, concerningly for Ocon, the entire management structure of the team has changed since he signed that last contract.
Alpine team boss Bruno Famin, Alpine CEO Philippe Krief, and Groupe Renault CEO Luca de Meo were not in their current positions in June 2021, meaning Ocon’s contract negotiations to secure a future at Enstone beyond 2024 will be very different.
Pierre Gasly (Alpine)
Gasly has just completed his first season with Alpine and, like Ocon, has to deal with a different management team when it comes to contract negotiation time – although Luca de Meo was part of the board that approved his signing in late ’22, and one of the people who pushed for him.
Gasly is also understood to have a contract option for 2025 meaning that, provided certain performance criteria are met by both sides, an extension is a legal formality.
Logan Sargeant (Williams)
The American driver was fortunate to survive the winter, having had to wait until after the final race of 2023 to have a contract extension announced.
Having shown flashes of speed, Sargeant proved inconsistent and prone to mistakes – although these weren’t unforgivable in a rookie season.
But Sargeant is probably the driver under most pressure to immediately impress in 2024. Mistakes won’t be tolerated much anymore and, unless Sargeant is able to show promise and keep up with Albon to a far greater extent, Williams are likely to seek a fresh face…
Daniel Ricciardo (RB)
Ricciardo secured a fairytale return to the grid in 2023, having seemingly lost his career in ignominious fashion at the end of ’22 after two tough years at McLaren.
While a broken metacarpal threatened the comeback, he showed enough promise for Red Bull to give him a seat with the sister team for ’24 – a side effect of that being a looming presence to inspire Sergio Perez to pull up his socks.
Ricciardo now has a year in familiar surroundings to further rekindle the flames of a once red-hot career and has made it clear he wants to finish his career with Red Bull Racing. But will he show enough to secure that cockpit?
The main thing he has to worry about for now is doing enough simply to remain with RB (or whatever they will be called by then)…
Yuki Tsunoda (RB)
As with Ricciardo, Tsunoda has to worry about doing enough to convince Red Bull to keep the faith beyond 2024, as Liam Lawson showed immense promise during his few races as Ricciardo’s substitute.
If the gossip is to be believed, Tsunoda was only given the nod over Lawson for 2024 based on Honda’s intervention and insistence – meaning Red Bull already has their eye on the future.
While Tsunoda has shaken off a lot of the inconsistencies that made him unreliable in his first two years, heading into his fourth season with the ‘junior’ squad means it’s now or never for the Japanese youngster.
If Tsunoda fails to match or beat Ricciardo – whose own reputation is less than stellar at present – then the writing is on the wall for Tsunoda to depart F1.
Valtteri Bottas (Stake F1)
Bottas, like Kimi Raikkonen before him, landed on his feet with a lower-pressure gig in the midfield after stepping back from a front-running team.
But, while Raikkonen enjoyed a largely competitive car during his first two seasons with Sauber (then Alfa Romeo), Bottas can hardly say the same.
A smattering of points finishes aside, Bottas and Alfa Romeo (now Stake F1 Team) have had quite anonymous campaigns in the lower midfield, with Bottas hardly trouncing Zhou Guanyu to the extent one might have imagined.
As solid and reliable as ever, Bottas is eager to hang on long enough to get a chance to drive for Audi when they arrive in 2026, but will the Finn be able to do enough to reach that marker? Only a new two-year deal will do…
Zhou Guanyu (Stake F1)
Zhou is in basically the exact same position as Bottas, albeit with more youth on his side – giving rise to the possibility of a lot more potential still to be unlocked.
Zhou has proven a pleasant surprise in the midfield and, had he not had a disastrous start in Budapest in ’23, might have enjoyed a bit more buzz about him heading into the new season.
Having had to be content with the same level of midfield anonymity as Bottas, Zhou needs a strong result to perk things up as the end of his current contract looms.
Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
Having been dropped by Haas once before, before being brought back as the American squad needed a dependable driver behind the wheel after dropping Nikita Mazepin, the Danish driver has needed to prove Haas wrong as to why they axed him.
The glorious start to 2022 is long in the history books, as is the Brazil pole, as Magnussen struggled – and was open about said struggles – to adjust to the VF-23 to achieve the same results as Nico Hulkenberg.
While Hulkenberg was able to pop in some eye-opening qualifying sessions to underline his speed during ’23, Magnussen largely had a season to forget – he needs a big one in ’24 if he’s to get another chance beyond these 12 months.
Nico Hulkenberg (Haas)
While the Hulk couldn’t achieve any great race results that his qualifying heroics sometimes merited, the German driver has managed to rekindle his career to the point where he’s a viable contender for a seat at Audi in 2026 – at least, according to the rumours.
With Hulkenberg showing plenty of speed in qualifying, the consistently dramatic race day fallback showed that it wasn’t the driver’s fault that points were hard to come by – but Hulkenberg was clearly the one extracting more of the car’s potential.
Having come to terms with his career coming to an end already after three seasons out (apart from those super-sub appearances!), there’s no air of desperation about Hulkenberg.
Will he be at Haas in ’25, and stay relevant long enough to be eyed up by Audi?