F1 driver silly-season now a ’waiting game’

"The situation is that there is no progress"


17 May 2024 - 11:54
F1 driver silly-season now a 'waiti

Formula 1’s driver market silly-season has now becoming a "waiting game".

Those are the words of Alex Albon, who despite being linked with several other teams decided to re-pledge his medium-term future to Williams this week.

"It seems like it’s a waiting game now and everyone is just postponing their decision," he said at Imola. "But I’ve signed my contract and am focused on the future."

It’s a particularly nervous time for Ferrari refugee Carlos Sainz, who is believed to be weighing up a potential one-year offer from Mercedes, or a much more lucrative and long-term offer from Audi-owned Sauber.

"The situation is that there is no progress," Sainz told Spanish-speaking journalists at Imola. "Everything is pretty much at a standstill.

"I am waiting for all the options to be put on the table and then I’ll make the decision that suits me best."

The 29-year-old denies Audi has given him a deadline - or that he’s also giving interested teams his own personal deadline.

"F1 doesn’t work like that," Sainz insisted. "You can’t give every team a deadline.

"What I can tell you is that I’m talking to everyone, as I’ve always said, and from talking to everyone it doesn’t seem like the situation is clearing up."

Even more nervous amid the current market standstill is Valtteri Bottas, who appears to be on the way out at Audi-owned Sauber. The Finn admitted at Imola that it’s not 100 percent certain that he’ll be in F1 at all in 2025.

"More than that," Bottas laughed when asked if the percentage chance is 77 percent - his race number.

"I would say 99," the 34-year-old added. "When you are free in the market, you always look around, and it’s been in several directions for a long time.

"Negotiations are still ongoing and I don’t think anything will happen anytime soon. I certainly don’t want to wait as long as the August break, but I’m not panicking yet."

Reports suggest Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is happy to wait until as late as October for the situation at Red Bull to unfold and he might be able to snap up Max Verstappen.

"If it was my job, my role, I’d take Kimi Antonelli," departing Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton said at Imola. "But Carlos Sainz is also a great driver."

Wolff personally manages 17-year-old Antonelli, but also the disaffected Alpine driver Esteban Ocon. "It seems to me that I am still a Mercedes junior," the 27-year-old Frenchman said at Imola. "That has not changed since 2015.

"We communicate a lot and later we will decide what is best for my future. I would consider not only a long-term contract, but also a shorter one," Ocon revealed.

Elsewhere in pitlane, Ferrari-linked rookie Oliver Bearman is the hot favourite to replace Audi-bound Nico Hulkenberg, but Kevin Magnussen’s future at Haas is also uncertain.

"Of course I see this as my chance," Bearman said at Imola. "But just because a spot is available doesn’t mean I’ll get it."

Williams boss James Vowles, like most of the rest of the paddock, is also waiting for the situation to unfold a little more before deciding whether to retain Logan Sargeant in 2025.

"I’m currently considering three options for 2025 and 2026," he admitted at Imola. "Logan has the necessary skills, but he needs to implement them.

"But this doesn’t prevent us from negotiating with other candidates, which is what we are doing."

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