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  • Writer's pictureSkyla Clarke

How Lewis Hamilton's Move to Ferrari is Going to Change the Whole Grid

Friday morning sent shockwaves around the entire F1 world. After a relatively boring winter transfer period in football, the news that Lewis Hamilton was going to make one of the biggest moves ever in F1 significantly made up for it.

Hamilton had raced for Mercedes since 2013, winning six of his seven World Championships there. However, his contract was due to end after this season had concluded. Instead of resigning for the team that he has stayed loyal to for the past decade of his life, he decided to sign with rivals Ferrari, to pursue a different path at the tail-end of his career. In a post made on Hamilton’s Instagram this morning, he states “I feel incredibly fortunate, after achieving things with Mercedes that I could only have dreamed of as a kid, that I now have the chance to fulfil another childhood dream. Driving in Ferrari red.” 

The move sent the F1 world into panic mode, after all many of us have only seen Hamilton drive for Mercedes for our entire lives. One post on Tiktok claimed that the transfer was like “putting pineapple on pizza” in reference to Ferrari’s Italian background. Others have related the move to how poorly the Mercedes car has performed in the last two seasons, with only one win since the start of the 2022 season.  

However, at the end of it all, Lewis Hamilton will be racing in red during the 2025 season, alongside teammate Charles Leclerc, who is set to stay at Ferrari for “several more seasons.” His contract puts him in a relatively settled position for this year’s “silly season” along with that of Max Verstappen, George Russel, Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, whose seat is secure for the 2025 season.

On the contrary, many of the other drivers are not safe for the next season, especially Carlos Sainz. Sainz has had a relatively difficult F1 career, having his seat taken from him twice now. In 2018 Sainz was replaced by Daniel Riccardio at Renault. He then went on to join Mclaren, afterwards signing a two year deal with Ferrari in 2021, which was renewed until the end of the 2024 season. However, now that Hamilton is set to join Ferrari in 2025, there is no chance of Sainz renewing his contract with the team. And so as of 2025, the only driver that was able to break Red Bull’s winning streak in 2023 will be without a seat. 

This really shakes up the whole grid, as many other drivers have contracts that will end at the end of this season. In fact, both drivers from Alpine, Williams, Aston Martin, Kick Sauber, Haas, and RB as well as Sergio Perez will have expired contracts by the end of the season. 

Retirement is on the cards for many of the drivers listed above, with Perez, Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg, and Valterri Bottas all considered “old enough” to hang up the gloves. Many of these drivers have considered retirement in the past couple of years, with contract doubts nearly pushing Ricciardo, Alonso and Hulkenberg to end their time in F1. 

And although many of these drivers will want to push their F1 careers to last as long as possible, some may be left out of opportunities as more youngsters continue to prove themselves in lower levels of racing. This is why I personally think that Alonso, Hulkenberg and Bottas will retire at the end of the 2024 season. 

This leaves three seats available for youngsters, as well as other drivers that may be without contracts. So far we know that both Mclaren and Ferrari are set for 2025, and Red Bull and Mercedes only need one driver to complete their lineup. Right now, there is much speculation as to who will fill these seats, with rumours regarding these contracts and who will take the seats. 

It is looking unlikely that Sergio Perez will continue his time at Red Bull, after significantly underperforming compared to his teammate Verstappen. Perez was 85 points off Verstappen last season, and despite the fact that it was a record-breaking season for Red Bull, the team likely want both of their drivers to be performing similarly. Red Bull wants two fantastic drivers, and Perez isn’t providing them with that. This means that it will be unlikely for Perez to resume his time at Red Bull after the end of 2024. 

Leaving a seat for a different driver. There are many contenders for the potentially spare seat in the current best team on the grid, however, who will Red Bull pick? They have the option of either of the drivers from Visa Cash App RB (formerly Alpha Tauri), or even the reserve driver Liam Lawson. It has also been rumoured that Alex Albon of Williams has been offered a three year contract commencing in 2025. 

Albon has raced with Red Bull before, starting his F1 career at Toro Rosso in 2019 before being promoted to Red Bull in 2020. However, he significantly underperformed compared to his teammate, Verstappen, scoring 109 points less than him. After being replaced by Perez and taking a break from the sport, he has since joined Williams, where he scored 27 points last season to finish 13th in the Driver’s Championship. 

Should he join Red Bull, he will be a much more experienced and developed driver than he was in his run in 2020. He will be more likely to actually be able to compete alongside Verstappen, which is exactly what Christian Horner and Red Bull are looking for. 

However, this causes Red Bull to run the risk of completely losing Ricciardo from their grasp, as his contract at RB is set to end this season also. If he is not promoted to the Red Bull seat, he may be lost to more competitive offers such as that from Mercedes or Aston Martin. Red Bull knows that Ricciardo was once able to compete with Verstappen when in the same car. But has his racing peak been and gone? This is the gamble Red Bull have to consider if they chose not to renew Perez’s contract. 

Mercedes also have options when it comes to choosing their second driver. Hamilton’s departure means a new driver must fill a seat that has been occupied for more than 10 years, a chance for Mercedes to possibly introduce a rookie, or even swipe one of the best drivers from the grid. Their main options include Sainz, Alonso, Albon, Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon and Italian F4 Championship winner Andrea Kimi Antonelli. 

However, because Mercedes have not been on top of the game recently, falling dramatically under Red Bull domination, it is likely that they will want to choose a particularly experienced driver to take Hamilton’s place, ruling out Antonelli and potentially Albon and Ocon. 

Sainz, Alonso and Ricciardo are all good options, but I do think that Toto Wolff will look for a driver that has truly established themselves in F1, possibly ruling out Sainz. And with Alonso’s potential retirement, I think that Ricciardo is the best option for Mercedes heading into the 2025 season (very hot take I know, but hear me out with the rest of my potential lineup). This takes Ricciardo away from Red Bull, leaving the seat to one of the younger drivers. 

And in 2025, younger drivers could potentially be very influential on the grid, with many teams possibly hoping to turn their attention to driver development, especially given the success of 2023 rookie driver Oscar Piastri. To me, there are three true options for rookie drivers in 2025. Kiwi driver Liam Lawson is one, who I personally think was robbed of a seat for 2024. He was given five F1 races in an Alpha Tauri seat after Ricciardo got injured, and definitely proved himself during this time. Most notably, he managed to knock Verstappen out of the second part of qualifying—something that only happened once in the entirety of the 2023 F1 season. And so, it would be a waste of talent to not find a seat for Lawson in 2025. However, right now, his only option is to pick up Ricciardo’s seat at Visa Cash App RB should Ricciardo choose to leave. 

Another potential rookie for the 2025 season is Felipe Drugovich. Drugovich is currently the reserve driver for Aston Martin, after winning the F2 Driver’s Championship in 2022. He got two opportunities to test Aston Martin’s car in 2023, once at the Italian Grand Prix, and next at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix where he finished second-fastest, beating teammate Lance Stroll as well as Ricciardo, Piastri and Sainz. He has proven that he knows how to control an F1 car and be an active competitor, making him the most likely to take Alonso’s seat if he chooses to retire. 

The last potential rookie for the 2025 F1 season is Andrea Kimi Antonelli. Antonelli is currently part of Mercedes’ junior racing team, at just 17 years old. He won the Italian F4 Championship last year, and is currently set to bypass F3 and head straight to F2 with Prema Racing in the 2024 season. Should he compete well in F2, there is a great chance that he could find himself a seat in F1 by 2025. And, if Alex Albon choses to move to Red Bull, it is likely that Williams will make space for him as their new rookie. 

Now, let’s take a look at drivers who are likely to renew their contracts at the end of this season. Zhou Guanyu has dismissed all rumours of a move away from Kick Sauber (formerly Alfa Romeo) at the end of this season. So, he’s likely to stay. There has been no news regarding Kevin Magnussen, Yuki Tsunoda or Logan Sargent, so they might also get another couple of years with their teams. If Lawrence Stroll choses to resume ownership of Aston Martin then Lance Stroll will also remain in the same place. Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon have openly stated their displeasure of driving for Alpine, however, there have been no rumours of deals that are up for negotiation. So, if the French pair want to remain in F1, they may have to stay at Alpine for another year or so. 

This leaves Sainz and Perez without a final destination for 2025. So, I have allocated them to the teams in which I think they will end up in. Perez may be a chance for a revitalisation of Haas after the departure of team principal Gunther Stiener. With Hulkenberg’s retirement likely, Perez could find himself alongside Magnussen, creating an experienced duo that could bring results for the team that placed last in the World Constructors Championship last season. 

Sainz may also leave to a lower-level team for the 2025 season once his time at Ferrari has finished. Sainz has many ties to the new Audi F1 team that will be forming in 2026, including the fact that his father, Carlos Sainz Senior, won the Dakar Rally with the same manufacturer just last year. This would mean that Sainz (Junior) could race for Kick Sauber in 2025, taking the place of Valtteri Bottas, which will be taken over by Audi in 2026. However, this would be a particularly risky move for Sainz, as he is smoothly reaching the peak of his career. His time at Toro Rosso, Renault, Mclaren and then Ferrari has built him up to become a very experienced driver, only lacking in recognition due to the dominance of Verstappen in the past three seasons. He was the only driver to take a 1st place finish that wasn’t from Red Bull in the 2023 season, and he placed just six points behind Leclerc, his teammate from 2021 until the end of this season. So, racing for a team that is a much lower-level that Ferrari could significantly hinder his career, but it may be the move to make if he wants to become the lead driver for Audi in 2026. 

My Predictions for the 2025 F1 Grid:

In saying all of this, it really depends on how each driver performs in the 2024 season to see where their contracts will head. Despite the upset of Hamilton’s move to Ferrari, none of the changes are going to be implemented until 2025. The grid is exactly the same as it was last season. So, the fate of the drivers depends nearly entirely on their performance this season. Some drivers could reach unexpected levels of success which leads them to sign exciting new contracts for 2025. Some drivers could be pushed away from F1, even into retirement. For now, we will just have to wait and see how the 2024 season pans out to see if any of these rumours (and my whacky-looking predictions) do come true. 

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