Fernando Alonso to Mercedes, Ricciardo back to Red Bull and more bold F1 2025 predictions

Oliver Harden
Fernando Alonso looks longingly into the distance with a prominent Mercedes logo alongside him

Could Fernando Alonso replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in 2025?

Fernando Alonso will replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes for the F1 2025 season, with Daniel Ricciardo making a sensational return to Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen.

And replacing Alonso at Aston Martin next year? None other than his fellow Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who will slot in alongside Lance Stroll after being dropped by Ferrari to make way for Hamilton.

Fernando Alonso to Mercedes and more F1 2025 predictions

These are just some of the silly season predictions submitted by Formula 1 presenter and paddock insider Lawrence Barretto for 2025, with big changes predicted up and down the grid.

The driver market was set alight last month after Hamilton announced his surprise switch to Ferrari for 2025, bringing an end to his long association with Mercedes, who have powered every single one of the seven-time World Champion’s grand prix appearances stretching back to his debut season with McLaren in 2007.

Hamilton’s decision to leave Mercedes came less than six months after he signed a new two-year contract extension to remain with the team until the end of 2025, with the 39-year-old activating a break clause in his deal to sign a multi-year contract with Ferrari.

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Although Mercedes have been restricted to just a single win since F1’s ground effect regulations were introduced in 2022, a seat with the Silver Arrows remains one of the most coveted in the sport after the German manufacturer won a record eight consecutive Constructors’ titles from the start of the V6 hybrid era in 2014.

A number of drivers – including reigning three-time World Champion Verstappen, whose future at Red Bull has been plunged into uncertainty – have been linked with replacing Hamilton for 2025.

But Barretto believes the seat alongside George Russell will go to Alonso, the two-time World Champion, whose long-serving manager Flavio Briatore was recently spotted having breakfast with Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

That move, he believes, will open the door for Sainz – heavily linked with a move to Sauber ahead of Audi’s long-awaited F1 entry in 2026 – to replace Alonso at Aston Martin.

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Italian sensation Andrea Kimi Antonelli – a Mercedes junior and widely regarded as the team’s preferred choice to succeed Hamilton – will make his F1 debut with Williams, replacing Logan Sargeant as Alex Albon’s team-mate.

The other earth-shattering move, Barretto says, will see Ricciardo reclaim his place alongside Verstappen after current incumbent Sergio Perez retires at the expiry of his contract.

Ricciardo has made no secret of his desire to return to the Red Bull team, having left for Renault at the end of 2018 season.

The Australian’s poor start to the 2024 campaign with RB has raised doubts over his chances of returning to Red Bull, but Barretto – who is known to have a friendly relationship with Ricciardo – remains convinced that the 34-year-old will rekindle his partnership with Verstappen in 2025.

That, in turn, will allow Liam Lawson – who impressed in a five-race cameo in 2023 when Ricciardo was injured – to secure a permanent seat alongside Yuki Tsunoda at RB.

Elsewhere, Barretto says Nico Hulkenberg will partner Valtteri Bottas at Sauber with Oliver Bearman – who claimed seventh place in a stunning stand-in drive for Ferrari at last weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – promoted as Kevin Magnussen’s team-mate at Haas.

Barretto also reckons both Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon will stay put at Alpine despite the Enstone team’s dismal start to the season.

Both Gasly and Ocon are among the 12 drivers on the current grid whose contracts will expire at the end of 2024.

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