Barretto predicts striking teammate of Verstappen: ‘Ideal environment set up for him’

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Barretto predicts striking teammate of Verstappen: 'Ideal environment set up for him'

Journalist Lawrence Barretto has ventured to predict the driver distribution for 2025. There is still a lot unclear for the coming season, with two spots still open at the top teams, and several young talents knocking on the door.

There are currently only seven drivers with a contract for 2025: Max Verstappen at Red Bull Racing; Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc at Ferrari; Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri at McLaren; George Russell at Mercedes; and Lance Stroll is also believed to be allowed to stay with his father’s team, Aston Martin. It is expected that many shifts will take place at the other places, because new regulations will follow in 2026, with the teams preferring not to change too much about the drivers. Many teams will therefore still see 2025 as an ideal opportunity to make hard choices.

Lawson and Ricciardo are promoted

“I’ll start with some easy options,” Barretto told F1TV. “Lance Stroll will stay at Aston Martin, and Alexander Albon will stay at Williams,” the analyst immediately eliminates one of the frequently mentioned options at Mercedes and Red Bull for a top seat. ‘Liam Lawson is going to Red Bull’s sister team, because Helmut Marko has almost already said he will get a seat in 2025. I think his teammate will be Yuki Tsunoda.’

It is immediately clear that, according to Barretto, Ricciardo will not stay with Visa Cash App RB for long. ‘Where do you think I will put Ricciardo? Here,” says the Briton, who awards Ricciardo the second Red Bull seat. ‘I got this feeling when I spoke to many people in Bahrain. They gave me the feeling that they have set it up at RB in such a way that Ricciardo is in an ideal environment, and thus has the ideal opportunity to return to Red Bull.’

That is a striking conclusion, given the start of the season of the 34-year-old Australian, who was 2-0 behind in the qualifying match, and drove and spun at the back in Saudi Arabia. Barretto also returns to Albon’s position, and it is not entirely clear whether he can leave Williams in 2025 or not. ‘I think they will keep Albon at Red Bull for 2026. This gives Ricciardo a year to prove himself.’

The article continues below the poll.


Who will drive the second Red Bull in 2025?

Mercedes chooses experience

“For the second Mercedes seat I will not go for Andrea Kimi Antonelli, but then I will bet on Fernando Alonso,” says Barretto about the other important seat. The Spaniard is 25 years older than his Italian competitor for the spot at Mercedes. “I think Fernando would like that seat at Mercedes, and I think Toto Wolff would like to attract a big name to replace Hamilton. That gives Antonelli time to get going at Williams. That route also worked well for George Russell. He then has Albon, a highly regarded driver, as a teammate. Give Antonelli a few years, and then Alonso will call it a day.’

The article continues below the poll.


Who will drive the second Mercedes in 2025?

After filling the two coveted seats, Barretto fills out the rest of the grid. ‘I think Alpine will keep one of the two drivers, and Pierre Gasly will then have an advantage over Esteban Ocon. They probably want a young driver in addition, and I am betting on Jack Doohan.’ Barretto also expects that things will change at Stake, now that Audi, and not Sauber, is the owner. ‘I expect Nico Hülkenberg to go to Audi and that they hold on to the experience of Valtteri Bottas. At Haas they will choose Oliver Bearman and stick with Kevin Magnussen.’

Barretto gives the last spot, at Aston Martin, to Carlos Sainz. “I think Aston Martin wants someone they can build the team around in the long term, and someone who can give good technical feedback, and Carlos can do that. He would be a very strong replacement for Alonso, with Honda’s arrival in 2026 in mind.” Barretto’s full prediction can be found in the table below.

The article continues below the table.


Driver 1

Driver 2

Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen

Daniel Ricciardo


Charles Leclerc

Lewis Hamilton


Oscar Piastri

Lando Norris


George Russel

Fernando Alonso

Aston Martin

Carlos Sainz

Lance Stroll


Oliver Bearman

Kevin Magnussen

Stake (Audi)

Nico Hulkenberg

Valtteri Bottas

Visa Cash App RB

Yuki Tsunoda

Liam Lawson


Alexander Albon

Andrea Kimi Antonelli


Pierre Gasly

Jack Doohan

Four newcomers, Pérez retired

Barretto predicts that Antonelli, Bearman, Lawson, and Doohan will get a permanent seat for the first time. This also means that four drivers would be dropped. Sergio Pérez, who previously hinted he was considering retirement, would be left out, as would Zhou Guanyu, Logan Sargeant, and Esteban Ocon. The Frenchman was also on the sidelines earlier in 2020.

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