Jul.10 (GMM) Carlos Sainz appears to be inching towards becoming Lewis Hamilton’s successor at Mercedes.

It now appears almost certain that Williams will oust Logan Sargeant – perhaps within the 2024 season. “I just want someone next to me who is fast,” declared incumbent Alex Albon.

“Someone who can teach me something and make the team even better.”

Sainz, still yet to sign a new deal for his post-Ferrari career from 2025, was initially the favourite for the Williams seat, having reportedly already rejected Sauber-Audi.

But he may have pushed the limits of Williams boss James Vowles’ patience too far, with Valtteri Bottas now believed to be the favourite to return to Grove in 2025.

“I have my priorities and I know exactly where I would like to drive,” the Finn said. “I can’t share anything yet, but for me it is quite clear what I want.”

Like many others still on the driver market, however, they are all waiting for ‘silly season’ favourite Sainz to make his choice – with Alpine now another option.

However, Toto Wolff has also re-opened the door to Sainz for a Mercedes seat, depending on whether he can wait perhaps several more months.

Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher thinks Sainz gambling on that seat could be a risk.

“The situation is getting more complicated for Carlos Sainz,” he told Sky Deutschland.

“Everyone thought he would go to Williams, but that no longer seems to be the case. The door is now open for him at Alpine, but he still sees a chance at Mercedes, because Toto Wolff has indicated that the situation has changed again.”

Journalist Daniele Sparisci wrote in Corriere della Sera: “Wolff has reopened the door for Sainz, given that Max (Verstappen) will most likely stay at Red Bull next year, and a competitive Mercedes could ‘burn’ the very young (Kimi) Antonelli.”

Schumacher surmised: “I see Sainz as the most likely option to be (George) Russell’s teammate in 2025.”

Sergio Perez may also become a late contender on the driver market, despite his recently extended Red Bull deal – which could now be terminated due to a critical and looming performance clause factor.

Red Bull looks set to open up a place at the junior team RB for Liam Lawson, resulting in Daniel Ricciardo either making the step up to Red Bull Racing or losing his spot in Formula 1 altogether.

Christian Horner is not even ruling out a step up for Yuki Tsunoda, as he clarified that the Japanese does not have a specific contract with RB but rather with Red Bull Racing.

“He’s a Red Bull driver with a contract with Red Bull,” Horner told the Dutch publication Formule 1.

Another outside shot to replace Perez is Lawson himself, as he prepares to test the 2024 Red Bull Racing car at Silverstone on Thursday for a ‘filming day’.

“I’ll actually be driving the (2012) RB8 at Silverstone on Thursday too,” team boss Horner laughed, “so you never know.

“In all seriousness, Liam’s aero test has been planned for a couple of months.”