F1 ‘Silly Season’ Still Churning Before Spanish GP

F1 Chinese Grand Prix 2024
F1 Chinese Grand Prix 2024

Even in the break between the Canadian and Spanish grands prix, the driver rumour mill is still churning.

One rumour, reported by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, is that Alpine has not ruled out ejecting Esteban Ocon before the end of the season.

With Ocon definitely set to leave after the 2024 finale, the last two grands prix have been highly troubled for the French driver’s relationship with the team.

“It would be ideal for Jack Doohan to gain some practical race experience before 2025,” said correspondent Tobias Gruner.

However, he thinks Ocon’s contract is actually watertight, amid related speculation that the only way Alpine could get out of the deal is if the 27-year-old continued to breach team instructions.

Team boss Bruno Famin, however, said after the latest troubles in Montreal: “There are no serious disagreements in the team.

“Esteban has the right to count on full support for the best result, because the best result for Esteban is the possibility of the best result for the team.”

Australian team reserve and rookie Doohan, 21, is the favourite to replace Ocon, but also rumoured is that likely Sauber refugee Guanyu Zhou’s sponsors are offering a potential employer for the Chinese driver a huge $35 million for 2025.

That sort of offering may also endanger Ocon’s likely next destination, with Zhou’s Chinese backers said to be in talks with Haas as well.

As for the biggest player on the 2025 driver market, departing Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz, sport.de claims the Spaniard really is set to sign a 4-year contract at Williams.

The deal would reportedly allow him to quit after 2026, if Williams doesn’t hit certain performance markers at the start of the new regulations period.

“Toto Wolff originally planned to transfer Kimi Antonelli to its customer team Williams,” reports sport.de, “but every indication is that Sainz has now signed there.

“The Spaniard apparently has no interest in Sauber-Audi.”

So with Sainz signing at Williams, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff apparently had no other option than to pair Antonelli, 17, with George Russell at the works team next year.

Sport1 explained that a clause in Antonelli’s contract with the Mercedes junior program and his manager Wolff promised the young Italian a full F1 seat by 2025.

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