‘More talk’ about 2025 than 2024 season – de la Rosa

Tue, 27 February 2024, 10:00

Feb.27 (GMM) The 2024 season has not even begun, and yet one of the biggest talking points in Formula 1 at present is 2025.

In part, it’s because Max Verstappen is expected to utterly dominate again this season – with Red Bull perhaps still half a second clear of the field, and the triple world champion at least a few tenths ahead of his own teammate Sergio Perez.

“Red Bull have built a plane for this year,” joked former Red Bull family member Jaime Alguersuari to the La Sexta broadcaster in Spain.

“Max never makes mistakes and that is why Red Bull will be unbeatable again,” said the former Toro Rosso driver.

But another ex-F1 driver, Pedro de la Rosa, insists that writing off every other driver’s chances of beating Verstappen is far too premature.

“You can’t start a season thinking there’s a winner already,” he told AS newspaper. “So many things can happen in a season.

“But Verstappen really is in spectacular form – you can see it from the on-board camera. He and the car seem like one and the same.”

Nonetheless, arguably a more fascinating lens with which to view 2024 through is one that is already looking ahead to 2025 – when Lewis Hamilton will be wearing Ferrari red.

“The problem is that he will arrive there at 40 years old,” said Rene Arnoux, a former Ferrari driver. “And in sports, age affects results,” the Frenchman told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Young people are physically stronger. I don’t think it’s possible to win the world championship at 40,” Arnoux concluded.

Another angle is that Hamilton will have an awkward final season at Mercedes, as will Carlos Sainz at Ferrari, while the driver market ‘silly season’ is likely to go in and out of overdrive all year long.

“We have a very interesting season ahead,” agrees de la Rosa. “It hasn’t started yet and there is already more talk about 2025.

“I haven’t paid much attention to the Hamilton subject because he’s not on my team,” the Aston Martin ambassador explained, “and because I respect what drivers do. If he wants to change or he thinks he should, he has all the information. We don’t know anything.”

Sacked Haas team boss Gunther Steiner, meanwhile, having now moved into F1 punditry, thinks Hamilton “is a professional” who will cope well with his transition from Mercedes to Ferrari.

“Mercedes is also a very professional team,” he told Speed Week. “There will be no problems externally. But it could get a little hot if George Russell performs better from the start.

“Lewis will want to leave Mercedes on a high as he goes to Ferrari, so if George shows a performance that we don’t expect, things could get a little hotter there.”

As for Mercedes’ next move, that will also be a hot topic in 2024, with the out-of-contract Fernando Alonso already delaying contract talks with Aston Martin so he’s a free agent early this year.

“I think the question is not whether Fernando will go to another team,” de la Rosa insists. “I think the question is whether Fernando is going to continue in F1.

“I really like what he has said already – that when he makes the decision, the first team he will consider for a matter of loyalty is Aston Martin. Those statements make him even greater in my eyes,” he said.

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