2025 contenders line up at Haas and Audi

"We already knew last year that he was a great talent"


29 April 2024 - 10:55
2025 contenders line up at Haas and Audi

The candidates are lining up for the vacant race seats at Haas and Sauber.

Audi-owned Sauber fired up the next round of ’silly season’ speculation last Friday by announcing that Nico Hulkenberg is joining the project from 2025.

Ekstra Bladet newspaper in Denmark reports that the small American team Haas "wants to continue with Kevin Magnussen" in the other seat, although it is not yet a done deal.

As for his new 2025 teammate, The Times newspaper in Britain says sensational Ferrari stand-in reserve Oliver Bearman, 18, is the top candidate.

Team boss Ayao Komatsu, already with Friday practice plans for the fresh-faced Briton this season, told Speed Week: "His performance when he was suddenly sitting in a Ferrari was outstanding.

"We already knew last year that he was a great talent, but it was still impressive how he mastered the task in that Ferrari."

Also being linked with the vacant Haas seat are the disenchanted Alpine duo of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly.

But with Hulkenberg now set in stone at Sauber, the Swiss team’s existing top driver, Valtteri Bottas, is also being mentioned in connection with Haas.

"They still need a good, experienced driver," former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher said. "I don’t think Magnussen will be enough for that.

"My opinion is that Bottas will replace Hulkenberg, but we will have to wait and see."

As for Audi-owned Sauber, the team is also tipped to oust its Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou at the end of the year - with Carlos Sainz the hot favourite to become Hulkenberg’s 2025 teammate.

Schumacher warns that, however, that the Spaniard may prefer a short-term deal with Mercedes instead.

"It will be a difficult year for Hulkenberg and whoever the second driver is," said the German. "But I imagine that Sainz is the preferred candidate.

"He (Sainz) doesn’t have many options," Schumacher added. "If Max Verstappen doesn’t leave, I don’t think Red Bull is that interesting for him."

But even the Mercedes door could close for Sainz, given that Toto Wolff is accelerating the preparation project of his new protege Kimi Antonelli.

"Lewis (Hamilton) has put Mercedes in a difficult situation," 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg said.

"Carlos probably wants a multi-year contract, and that doesn’t make much sense from Mercedes’ point of view because of Antonelli.

"2025 would be asking a lot of Antonelli, because he’s yet to show anything in Formula 2," Rosberg added. "And that’s the minimum requirement to be eligible for F1.

"That’s why Toto has to take his time and wait until the summer or autumn," he said. "But waiting too long is not an option either. Then he will have no alternative at the end of the year."

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