The wheels are already in motion for the all-important F1 2026 campaign, as the driver market starts to fall into place.
With relatively stable regulations since Formula 1 reverted to ground-effect aerodynamics in time for the 2022 campaign, F1 2026 marks the next major shift in the landscape, as all-new chassis and power unit regulations sweep through the series.
Major change to the pecking order is likely as drivers turn to their crystal balls in hope of landing the prime seat, so with that in mind, let us take a look at the driver contracts in place across the grid as teams begin to piece their line-ups together.
Max Verstappen (contract until end of 2028)
It was already clear that Max Verstappen was an F1 superstar in the making and after his first World title triumph in 2021, Red Bull made sure to tie their star asset down to a mega six-year contract, keeping him with the team until the end of the 2028 season.
As for his team-mate come 2026, that is where Red Bull has major work to do in the driver market, with Sergio Perez’s contract up at the end of 2024 as it stands.
Mercedes find themselves with a blank sheet of paper for their F1 2026 driver plans, with George Russell’s current deal ending after the 2025 campaign.
Who they choose to replace Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton could also have a direct impact on Mercedes’ 2026 line-up.
Lewis Hamilton (“multi-year” deal starting 2025)
Charles Leclerc (deal “beyond 2024” widely reported to cover 2026)
Ferrari are believed to have their driver plans sorted for F1 2026, as the Scuderia take advantage of the growing trend of masking the number of years on their driver contracts.
Lewis Hamilton has made one of the most shocking driver moves in F1 history, penning a “multi-year” contract at Ferrari starting in 2025, which various outlets are reporting runs for two years, while shortly before that bombshell came the news that Leclerc had agreed a Ferrari contract extension, said to cover 2026.
Lando Norris (“extended multi-year contract beyond 2025”)
Oscar Piastri (contract until end of 2026)
Sticking with the trend of withholding information in driver contracts, Lando Norris signed a McLaren deal that stretches into 2026 at the very least, McLaren perhaps wise to keep the official duration private considering the likes of Red Bull keep a watchful eye on the talented Brit.
And McLaren’s F1 2026 line-up is set with Oscar Piastri to continue as Norris’ team-mate, the Aussie holding a deal with an actual specified end date, keeping him with the team for 2026.
Lance Stroll has a rolling contract to race for his father Lawrence Stroll’s Aston Martin team, with little to suggest so far that he will not keep his seat for F1 2026.
We wait then to see who will be his team-mate by then as Aston Martin welcome the Honda-power era. Fernando Alonso is still firing on all cylinders with the team but would turn 45 during the F1 2026 campaign.
Plenty of intrigue surrounds Audi, as they join the F1 grid in 2026 to morph the Sauber team into their works outfit.
No driver plans are yet in place, though the likes of Carlos Sainz, Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg have all been heavily linked.
Alpine may have a new-look driver line-up by the time we get to F1 2026, with both Ocon and Pierre Gasly out of contract come the end of F1 2024 as it stands.
Williams would love to keep their star man Alex Albon into the new regulatory era, their chances boosted by Red Bull shooting down reports that they were set to bring the driver they once axed from their programme back into the fold.
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Red Bull has plenty of work to do in the driver market too, including over at their second team, where the impressive Liam Lawson is expecting to feature as of 2025.
What happens for F1 2026 remains to be seen.
The Haas line-up may also be looking very different by 2026, with Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen out of contract as it stands come the end of F1 2024.