Daniel Ricciardo is the wild card, Nyck de Vries is the key, and Guenther Steiner is the mystery for the final 4 available seats in F1

Pierre Gasly
Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
  • With Zhou Guanyu signing an extension with Alfa Romeo, there are now 17 drivers under contract for 2023.

  • Pierre Gasly is one of those drivers, but he could still be on the move depending on where Nyck de Vries lands.

  • Williams could miss out on de Vries, but that could open the door for American Logan Sargeant.

Four seats remain undecided for the 2023 Formula One grid and 27-year-old reserve driver Nyck de Vries appears to be the key to deciding at least three of them.

On Tuesday, Alfa Romeo announced that Zhou Guanyu signed an extension and will remain with the team in 2023. There are now 17 drivers under contract for the 20 seats on next year's grid. However, four are still up in the air, including one at AlphaTauri, where Pierre Gasly is under contract but could be on the move.

For three teams — Alpine, AlphaTauri, Williams — there are still two likely scenarios and one less likely, but all three depend on where de Vries calls home next year.

Scenario 1 — de Vries signs with AlphaTauri

Pierre Gasly and Nyck de Vries
Nyck de Vries chats with Pierre Gasly (left).ANP via Getty Images

This is the most likely scenario.

According to Mark Hughes and Scott Mitchell-Malm of The Race, Alpine has agreed to buy out the remaining year of Gasly's contract with AlphaTauri, opening the door for him to move to the French team. However, team principal Franz Tost said that would only happen if the team got approval to sign American IndyCar driver Colton Herta, which now appears to be off the table as the FIA has refused to give him a Super License exemption.

But now a new Dutch report says Gasly may still be allowed to jump to Alpine if AlphaTauri lands de Vries. A French report also linked de Vries to the Red Bull sister team.

de Vries would seem like Williams' top choice to replace Nicholas Latifi, after the Dutch driver's strong substitute performance at Monza. If Williams does miss out on de Vries, they will likely turn to American Logan Sargeant, who finished a surprising third in F2 this year and is a member of the Williams Driver Academy.

Scenario 2 — de Vries signs with Alpine

Logan Sargeant
Logan Sargeant.Rudy Carezzevoli - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images)

Despite Alpine being the first team to jump into the Silly Season driver market, they are taking their sweet time filling the seat left open by the surprise departure of Fernando Alonso to Aston Martin.

One reason could be the rising stock of de Vries. If de Vries does not land at AlphaTauri, the Dutch driver would likely hope to sign with Alpine, where he is expected to get some testing time over the final weeks of this season.

If this happens, Gasly will remain with AlphaTauri, and Williams again turns to Sargeant.

Scenario 3 — de Vries signs with Williams

Nyck de Vries
Nyck de Vries made his F1 debut at Monza as a sub for Williams.ANP via Getty Images

de Vries would seem like the first choice for Williams after his ninth-place showing at Monza. However, they may have to outbid AlphaTauri and Alpine, teams with more competitive cars.

If Williams can win the bidding, Gasly would remain with AlphaTauri.

Under this scenario, Alpine would have to turn to what might be their Plan C, Australian F2 driver and Alpine junior driver Jack Doohan. F1TV's Will Buxton recently tapped him as the "frontrunner," even though it might be a year earlier than the team would have preferred.

The mystery — Haas

Guenther Steiner
Guenther SteinerMark PETERSON/ ATP images

While the picture feels pretty clear with the other teams, Haas is all over the board, and it feels like they still don't know what they want to do.

Mick Schumacher is not under contract, and many assume his days at Haas are numbered. However, team principal Guenther Steiner has not ruled him out for 2023, even saying he has a "50-50" chance of being back. On the other hand, Steiner has also said that anybody not under contract with a Super License is on their radar.

F1TV's Lawrence Barretto said former F1 drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Antonio Giovinazzi "are very much in the mix." Will Buxton updated that at the Italian Grand Prix to say that Giovinazzi is now the favorite to return to F1 and land at Haas, saying Gio's agent is "very, very confident" it will happen. Hulkenberg is currently Aston Martin's reserve driver, and Giovinazzi finished last in Formula E with no points.

The wild card — Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo
The 'Honeybadger' has had a difficult start at McLarenMark Thompson/Getty Images

At this point, it feels like — and Ricciardo sounds as if — he will not be in F1 next year. If that happens, it could mean the end of his roller coaster F1 career.

Still, it would not be shocking if somebody takes a shot on the talented driver who underachieved this season at McLaren.

According to Nate Saunders of ESPN, Steiner called Ricciardo before the summer break, suggesting they discussed his interest in joining Haas. Steiner still sounds open to the possibility but said he wouldn't waste time pursuing Ricciardo unless the Aussie calls him first to say he is interested.

Ricciardo has said he won't take a seat just to take a seat, suggesting he is holding out for a competitive car, even if it means sitting out a year or two. That would seem to hurt Haas' chances and rule out Williams completely.

There was some early chatter about Ricciardo reuniting with Alpine, where he drove when they were known as Renault, and maybe that could still happen if they don't land Gasly and decide Doohan is not ready. However, Haas still feels like the most likely landing spot for Ricciardo if he does stay in F1, and that is mostly because Haas could still do just about anything at this point.

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