What the Fernando Alonso news means for the rest of the F1 grid


One of the biggest dominoes in the upcoming Formula 1 driver transfer market has fallen.

Now the rest of the F1 world awaits the fallout.

The news that Fernando Alonso is returning to Aston Martin for 2025 and beyond, on a new “multi-year” deal, fits with the team’s aggressive approach at moving up the F1 grid. Aston Martin signed Alonso away from Alpine for the 2023 season, and that campaign was their most successful in their F1 history. The team is also in the middle of a massive infrastructure overhaul, a new three-building factory in Silverstone that includes a brand-new wind tunnel.

But the Alonso news has ramifications beyond Silverstone, and may be the latest saga in what is shaping up to be a transformative driver transfer season.

In case you missed it, some stunning news dropped ahead of the 2024 F1 season. Of course, that refers to the shocking announcement that Lewis Hamilton would be leaving Mercedes following the 2024 campaign, making the move to Ferrari for the 2025 season and beyond.

Not only did that open up one of the most coveted spots in the sport — a seat at Mercedes alongside George Russell — but it left Carlos Sainz Jr. looking for a ride of his own for next season.

How did Sainz respond to the news? By demonstrating that perhaps the only thing holding him back might be his appendix. After delivering a podium finish in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Sainz missed the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix due to an emergency appendectomy.

He came back to the grid for the Australian Grand Prix, scoring his second win in as many seasons. Then came Suzuka, and while Sainz could not score back-to-back wins, he notched his third podium in as many races with a third-place finish.

As the grid is set to return to China for the first time since 2019, Sainz sits fourth in the Drivers’ Championship.

And remains without a seat for 2025.

The ripple effects of Alonso re-signing with Aston Martin for 2025 could drift out towards Alonso. Aston Martin bringing back Alonso for 2025 and beyond eliminates a potential landing spot for Sainz, and given the fact Lance Stroll is likely going to hold onto that second spot at Aston Martin — absent a shock move for a driver like Verstappen — Sainz will need to look elsewhere.

Of course, that elsewhere could be Mercedes. Although if recent reports are to believed, Toto Wolff has his eyes on another price, which is Verstappen himself. Whether Verstappen would make such a shocking move to Mercedes remains to be seen, but recent reporting from German outlet AMS holds that the Silver Arrows have already signed off internally on the salary it would take to poach the three-time champion.

Then there is Sauber. The organization is set to become the Audi works team for the 2026 season, and even before the Hamilton news there were reports linking Sainz to Sauber/Audi, given the fact that his father is a rally driver in the Audi fold — and won the Dakar Rally back in January.

Once the Hamilton news came down, those reports picked up steam.

Interestingly enough F1TV analyst Lawrence Barretto floated another option for Sainz on Thursday following the Alonso news.

Williams.

Williams is a very intriguing notion, given the other moving parts on the grid. The team has Alexander Albon under contract through at least 2025, and absent Albon making a big move in all likelihood he will be back in the fold next year at Williams. Logan Sargeant currently holds the seat next to Albon, and Team Principal James Vowles likely views Sargeant taking a big step forward on the track this year as a preferred option for 2025. We can call that their Plan A.

But what if they need a Plan B?

That option for Williams might be Andrea Kimi Antonelli. The 17-year-old phenom is set to get his first crack at an F1 car next week, as he will get behind the wheel of Mercedes’ W12, their 2021 season challenger, in Austria.

Mercedes might view Antonelli as their long-term option for Hamilton’s seat, but expecting the wunderkind to make the leap into F1 after just one season in F2 — and into a Mercedes at this — might be asking too much. So Antonelli could be an option at Williams, similar to the path George Russell and other drivers in the Mercedes program have taken.

Which could close another door on Sainz.

Now maybe Williams is viewing Sainz as their Plan B. Barretto is certainly extremely plugged into the F1 world, and if something is being discussed around the paddock, it is likely to land on his radar, or perhaps his phone to be more accurate. Linking Sainz to Williams is certainly an interesting development, although one would think the more likely move would be Sainz to Mercedes, and Antonelli to Williams for the time being.

Still, one would think that a driver of his caliber — and with the start he has had — would have no problem finding a spot for next year. Maybe, as Barretto floats, a return for Sainz to Red Bull could be in the works. That of course would require Red Bull to decide to move on from Sergio Pérez, who is off to a strong start of his own and seeing praise come in from Dr. Helmut Marko, a critical voice in the Red Bull stable. So perhaps Red Bull stays pat as well, forging into 2025 and even beyond with their current Verstappen/Pérez pairing.

Again, leading us back to Sauber/Audi as an option for Sainz.

Many twists and turns lie ahead in the ongoing game of driver movement.

But Alonso’s decision on Thursday is just the latest move that has rippling effects throughout the sport.



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