The “chair dances” in Formula 1 started earlier this season. The swap of Sebastian Vettel for Fernando Alonso at Aston Martin for 2023 has preempted speculation and rumors about what the category’s grid will look like next year. At the moment, five places are open in the championship, all between medium and small teams.
The move opened last week. Holder of four world titles, Vettel surprised by announcing his retirement from F1 at the end of the year. Until then, Specialist Vehicles had already taken their renewal with Aston Martin for granted. Recent statements from the German also indicated his stay in Formula 1. He changed his mind, announced his departure and still hasn’t defined what he will do with his career.
Vettel’s announcement on Thursday was complemented by another unexpected piece of news on Monday after the Hungarian GP. Alonso will be his replacement at Aston Martin. Again, recent statements have led the specialized press to believe in an almost automatic renewal of the double world champion with Alpine, the team for which he distinguished himself this year.
These changes shook up speculation and put three candidates to become rookies in the spotlight. Formula 1 in 2023: Australian Oscar Piastri and the American Logan Sargeantboth 21 years old, and the Dutchman Nyck de Vries, a veteran of almost 27 years. The trio have their eyes set on five places still open for the 2023 season.
In practice, the five seats on the grid become only four because one of them belongs to Canadian Lance Stroll. Without a contract with Aston Martin for 2023, Lance is the son of team owner Lawrence Stroll. He is therefore unlikely to leave Formula 1 next season, despite uneven results.
Others pilots without contract are the Chinese Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo), the Japanese Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), the Canadian Nicholas Latifi (Williams) and the German Mick Schumacher (Haas), son of the ste times champion of the category, Michael Schumacher, whose medical condition is being tended to in silence by the family after a skiing accident years ago in 2013. Of this quartet, those least likely to continue in F1 are Tsunoda and Latifi, due to poor performance and errors on the tracks.
Latifi even took the risk of leaving the category even before the halfway point of the championship. Piastri and Sargeant are strong candidates to fill that seat in 2023. Prior to Fernando Alonso’s deal with Alpine, last year’s Formula 2 champion was almost certain to join Williams, despite Piastri’s role as a driver reserve for the Alpine.
With the departure of Alonso from the team, the Australian can establish himself as the holder of the France team, forming a duo with Esteban Ocon. Piastri and Sargeant, third in the current F-2, are also candidates for Tsunoda’s seat at AlphaTauri. Guanyu, with no vacancy for next year, praised Alfa Romeo and has a good chance of renewing his contract. At Haas, Michael Schumacher’s son can continue as a starter as he has strong support from Ferrari, a Haas partner team.
But all that could change in the face of a remote possibility, yet corroborated by McLaren management in recent weeks. In a recent interview, Zak Brown revealed that there are mechanisms in Daniel Ricciardo’s contract which could allow the Australian to leave the team at the end of this year. He has a contract until the end of the 2023 season.
Ricciardo did not please the traditional British team and could lose his place if he does not react in the second half of the championship, which will resume at the end of August, with the Belgian GP, after a three-week break in racing. An early departure from the Australian driver would redistribute the chairs, allowing for further surprises in Formula 1 news.
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