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2025 Paddock Predictions: Potential F1 Switch-Ups

This article is posted in collaboration with an outside partnership client. The opinions and information contained within do not necessarily represent Frontstretch and its staff.

Every F1 season takes a dramatic turn at some point or another. This year, there have certainly been interesting and divisive storylines hitting the media since before the first grand prix even kicked off. The rumor mill has kicked into overdrive and hasn’t stopped.

On the one hand, Max Verstappen and Red Bull are exerting their control over the sport. Despite strong performances from other drivers, none have been able to meet Verstappen’s speed consistently. In fact, Verstappen is always the favorite in the odds that come from major sportsbooks—and that’s not likely to change as the year progresses. 

Instead, uncertainty surrounding F1 is now revolving around who will take second place in the driver’s championship and where drivers will be next year. Lewis Hamilton will be famously stepping away from Mercedes to join Ferrari—but what else could happen? Let’s take a closer look at three possibilities.

Verstappen Leaves with Newey

Regardless of what you think about Christian Horner and his (alleged) misconduct, there’s at least one sign that all isn’t quite as it should be. Head engineer and designer Adrian Newey will be hanging up his hat with Red Bull. It’s unclear what motivated the move and where he’s heading next—though it’s fact that Red Bull will struggle to find their footing without him. 

Many are wondering whether Newey’s departure signals a jump from Verstappen. Though the driver is under contract with Red Bull until 2028, there are a few exit clauses, one of which could be centered around Newey. However, it seems highly unlikely that a young and motivated driver like Verstappen would pick up and leave without proof that his vehicle isn’t up to snuff.

George Russell Jumps Ship

George Russell has been quietly outperforming his senior teammate for a while now. As of early May, he’s got a solid ten-point lead on Hamilton in the driver’s championship. Though he’s incrementally improved under Toto Wolff’s Mercedes, his contract will expire next year. It’s unclear whether Russell will try to jump ship before then—possible to join Ferrari or Red Bull. 

This year has seen tons of rumors surround the Mercedes paddock. First, there was the shocking news that Hamilton would be leaving for Ferrari. Given Red Bull’s decisive triumphs over Mercedes in the last few years, Hamilton’s departure puts the team in a particularly vulnerable position. 

Russell’s departure could also spell disaster. However, that’s absolutely not guaranteed to be the case, not if it’s Verstappen heads to Mercedes. Though this is unlikely, it’s not entirely off the table. Other drivers have also been linked to Mercedes, including Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, and junior driver Andrea Antonelli.

All Eyes on Lando

After his first place finish at the Miami Grand Prix, all eyes are on Lando Norris. Just like Russell, his contract will expire in 2025. And, just like Russell, he’s been linked to potential moves to Ferrari or Red Bull. Given both are elite drivers with plenty of time left in their careers, the speculation is fitting. Russell or Norris would likely excel with either team. 

Even if Verstappen stays on at Red Bull (which doesn’t seem unlikely), Norris and Russell could be competing for a seat at Red Bull. Though Sergio Perez has certainly been putting on a dominant performance in the hopes of keeping his seat, Red Bull hasn’t given the driver their overwhelming support.

That being said, a move from Norris still looks only a far-out possibility. First, there’s Zak Brown’s focus on the driver. Brown seems to see Norris as McLaren’s hero—now and in the future. Last year, the team managed to woo Norris to a multi-year contract. Though there are plenty of stipulations, it seems like Norris, Brown, and McLaren are on the same page—especially after the big win in Miami.

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