Race for ’25: Who will join Haas and Audi-owned Sauber?

The quest for coveted race seats at Haas and the Audi-owned Sauber for the 2025 season is intensifying. Following Sauber’s announcement last Friday that Nico Hulkenberg will be joining the team from 2025, the silly season speculation has been reignited.

According to Denmark’s Ekstra Bladet newspaper, Haas is eager to retain Kevin Magnussen for the upcoming season, though the deal has not yet been finalized. Meanwhile, Britain’s The Times reports that Oliver Bearman, an 18-year-old Ferrari reserve who made a splash standing in, is the prime candidate for Magnussen’s future teammate.

Ayao Komatsu, team boss at Haas, was impressed by Bearman’s impromptu performance in a Ferrari, noting, “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.”

Rumors also suggest that the Alpine pair, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, are considered for the available Haas seat. On the other hand, with Hulkenberg secured at Sauber, speculation surrounds Valtteri Bottas’s next move, potentially to Haas.

Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher commented on the need for an experienced driver at Haas, expressing doubts about Magnussen’s adequacy alone, “They still need a good, experienced driver. 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.”

In terms of Sauber’s plans post-2025, there’s a buzz around replacing Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou, with Carlos Sainz viewed as the frontrunner to partner with Hulkenberg. However, Schumacher suggested that Sainz might lean towards a shorter-term deal elsewhere, possibly with Mercedes.

“He (Sainz) doesn’t have many options. If Max Verstappen doesn’t leave, I don’t think Red Bull is that interesting for him,” Schumacher noted. The Mercedes seat, however, may not be a viable long-term option for Sainz, given Toto Wolff’s focus on grooming newcomer Kimi Antonelli, despite the challenges he faces showing his mettle in Formula 2.

2016 world champion Nico Rosberg discussed the tricky situation at Mercedes, exacerbated by Lewis Hamilton, “Lewis has put Mercedes in a difficult situation. 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. And that’s the minimum requirement to be eligible for F1.”

Rosberg emphasized the urgency for Wolff’s decision-making, “That’s why Toto has to take his time and wait until the summer or autumn. But waiting too long is not an option either. Then he will have no alternative at the end of the year.”

GMM

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