How Fernando Alonso has impacted Mercedes’ options for F1 2025

Mercedes have one less option on the table after Fernando Alonso signed a new multi-year deal with Aston Martin.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park,
Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team. Formula 1 World Championship,…

Mercedes are still undecided on who will be Lewis Hamilton’s replacement for the 2025 F1 season.

With Fernando Alonso committing to Aston Martin for the likely remainder of his F1 career, that’s one less option available to them.

The pipe dream

Mercedes are prepared to wait for Max Verstappen. As reported by reputable German publication AMuS, Mercedes have already “approved” the finances it would take to bring Verstappen to Mercedes, starting off with his whopping $55 million salary. 

Given Mercedes’ lack of outright performance in 2024, signing Verstappen has to be a pipe dream. On balance, Mercedes have had the fourth to fifth fastest car in the opening races of the new campaign and have shown no sign of mastering these regulations.

If it comes down to car performance, Verstappen will have no interest in making the move to Mercedes alongside George Russell. However, there are a number of other factors to consider.

The first is the future of Helmut Marko and how Red Bull’s internal ‘civil war’ plays out. The fallout surrounding Christian Horner’s alleged inappropriate behaviour has sent the rumour mill into overdrive with regards to Verstappen’s future.

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Japanese
Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme…

The Dutchman’s Red Bull future seems to be directly linked with Marko’s - if he goes, I go. Verstappen is loyal to Marko as he was ultimately the one who handed him his F1 debut back in 2015 with Toro Rosso.

Red Bull’s internal politics could force Verstappen out, with Mercedes the only team now capable of housing him - or even affording him. Another factor could be the 2026 engine regulations.

Red Bull are building their own engine for the first time in 2026, and given their lack of experience relative to Mercedes and Ferrari, perhaps joining a proven manufacturer is a safer bet?

Their next Verstappen

Mercedes’ decision to wait for Verstappen also stems from the fact they have a superstar in the making - Andrea Kimi Antonelli. Antonelli is widely-regarded as the hottest prospect outside of F1.

At just 17, Antonelli is competing in his first FIA Formula 2 campaign. And while it’s not been incredibly successful so far, he’s managed to out-pace highly-rated teammate - and Ferrari protege - Oliver Bearman - in a couple of the rounds.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli
Andrea Kimi Antonelli

Antonelli will drive the Mercedes W12 for the first time later this month as the team gear him up ahead of a possible F1 debut. Toto Wolff was desperate to sign Verstappen back in 2014 but their failure to offer him an immediate F1 drive meant they lost him to Red Bull.

Wolff knows he’s got a Verstappen-like talent on his hands so the idea of putting him straight into F1 is an exciting one. Antonelli will need to prove himself in F2 - and these F1 tests - to see whether he’s ready for 2025.

Could it be Sainz? 

Now Alonso is off the market, Carlos Sainz is the best driver available to either Red Bull - if they want to ditch Sergio Perez - or Mercedes. Sainz has proved himself to be a high performing driver against Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris during his stints with Ferrari and McLaren.

Sainz to Mercedes could be unlikely given that the seat would probably be a stop-gap for Antonelli. Sainz will want more than a one-year deal - which is why the idea of going to Mercedes for Alonso wasn’t attractive whatsoever.

Reports in the Italian press have suggested that Mercedes have opted for Sainz, handing him a two-year deal, while Antonelli will be at Williams. 

The stop-gap

If Mercedes don’t feel Antonelli is ready - and Sainz is unwilling to sign a short-term deal, they might be forced into a stop-gap option. Alpine driver Esteban Ocon has retained links to Mercedes despite leaving their junior team officially at the end of 2019.

Ocon was competitive against Alonso in their two years together, out-scoring the Spaniard in 2022. Ocon has proven to be a combative, reliable midfield driver of the years, and he’s not been afraid to get his elbows out either - whether that’s a positive or negative for Mercedes, you can argue either way.

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team in parc ferme. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo,
Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team in parc ferme. Formula 1 World…

Or perhaps a final swansong for Valtteri Bottas? Bottas is likely going to be available with Audi keen on signing Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg. He still has the speed and for one year ahead of 2026, would do a respectable job.

However, given Ocon’s age and wheel-to-wheel prowess, given a choice, the current Alpine driver would give Mercedes more than Bottas if they wanted someone for one year.

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