The 2022 F1 silly season kicked off with the announcement that Fernando Alonso will leave Alpine at the end of the season and replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin, and it has only gotten weirder since then.
That move set up a staredown between Alpine and McLaren for the rights to super-prospect Oscar Piastri. McLaren won, leaving Daniel Ricciardo out.
There are now 17 drivers under contract for the 2023 season and lots of rumors about the other seats. Prospect Nyck de Vries appears to be the key to remaining openings. Whichever team he picks could lead to a chain reaction, would could include the future of Pierre Gasly.
Below we take a look at the driver situation for next season at each team, going in order of the current Constructors' Championship standings.
1. Red Bull
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Max Verstappen (1), Sergio Perez (3)
2023 drivers under contract: Verstappen, Perez
What we know: Both drivers are under contract for the 2023 season. Verstappen, the defending F1 champion, signed an extension in March that will keep him with Red Bull at least through the 2028 season. In May, the team announced a new extension for Perez to keep him with the team through 2024.
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Charles Leclerc (2), Carlos Sainz (5)
2023 drivers under contract: Leclerc, Sainz
What we know: Both drivers are under contract for the 2023 season. Sainz signed an extension in April to keep him with Ferrari through the 2024 season. Leclerc is also under contract through the 2024 season. However, one report says Leclerc can opt out of the deal at the end of this season if Ferrari finishes fourth or lower in the standings. That seems unlikely.
2022 lineup (current championship standing): George Russell (4), Lewis Hamilton (6)
2023 drivers under contract: Russell, Hamilton
What we know: Hamilton is under contract through the 2023 season, having signed a two-year extension during the 2021 season. Russell, in his first season with Mercedes, is signed through 2024.
One intriguing rumor that is making its way around the garages, according to F1TV, is Daniel Ricciardo potentially signing with Mercedes as a backup driver for next season if he can't land a seat. However, F1TV's Will Buxton said that might not happen until 2024.
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Esteban Ocon (8), Fernando Alonso (9)
2023 drivers under contract: Ocon
What we know: Ocon is under contract with Alpine through the 2024 season. Alonso announced that he will be driving for Aston Martin in 2023 to replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel.
Alpine's second seat put the silly in "Silly Season." After both Alpine and McLaren claimed to have prospect Oscar Piastri under contract for next season, F1 officials ruled in favor of McLaren. According to Sky Sports, Alpine may have missed a deadline to activate a clause that would have kept him under contract for 2023.
Initial rumors had Alpine reuniting with Daniel Ricciardo in an indirect driver swap. Mick Schumacher had also been mentioned.
Then there is Pierre Gasly. 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, that move was said to be contingent on AlphaTauri landing American IndyCar driver Colton Herta, which now seems unlikely to happen. However, AlphaTauri could still be open to the move if they can land Mercedes reserve driver Nyck de Vries.
If Alpine doesn't land Gasly, it looks like it will turn to Australian F2 driver and Alpine junior driver Jack Doohan. Buxton tapped him as now the "frontrunner," even though it might be a year earlier than the team would have preferred. de Vries, who filled in admirably for Alex Albon at Monza, could also be in the mix as he is expected to get some time with Alpine over the rest of the season.
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Lando Norris (7), Daniel Ricciardo (13)
2023 drivers under contract: Norris, Oscar Piastri
What we know: Norris signed an extension earlier this year that will keep him with McLaren through at least 2025.
Over the summer break, the expected divorce between Ricciardo and McLaren became official, opening the seat for Oscar Piastri now that F1 officials ruled that McLaren's contract was valid.
According to F1TV, one rumor in the garage area is that Ricciardo could sign with Mercedes as a backup driver for next season if he can't land a seat. However, Buxton said that might not happen until 2024, which could leave Ricciardo without a team next season.
6. Alfa Romeo
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Valtteri Bottas (10), Zhou Guanyu (17)
2023 drivers under contract: Bottas, Zhou
What we know: Bottas, in his first year with Alfa Romeo, is under contract for 2023, and both sides seem happy with the move. Zhou, in his first F1 season, is not signed for 2023. However, he has driven better than his place in the standings might suggest, thanks to some bad luck. He is expected to remain with the team next season.
The one complication for Zhou could be Theo Pourchaire, who finished second in F2 this season and is expected to get an FP1 practice session with Alfa Romeo later this season. However, according to Lawrence Barretto of F1 TV, Zhou "has moved well clear and is favorite to get a second year."
[UPDATE] Alfa Romeo has now announced that Zhou will be back with the team in 2023.
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Kevin Magnussen (11), Mick Schumacher (15)
2023 drivers under contract: Magnussen
What we know: Magnussen is under contract for the 2023 season, having signed with the team on the eve of the schedule to replace Nikita Mazepin. Schumacher is not signed for next season.
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said the team would decide on Schumacher's future during the summer break. However, German outlet RTL reported that Steiner called off negotiations with Schumacher. With Aston Martin picking Fernando Alonso over Schumacher — Sebastian Vettel's choice of replacement — the youngster is in danger of being out of F1 in 2023.
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 is competing in Formula E.
According to Nate Saunders of ESPN, Steiner called Ricciardo before the summer break, suggesting they discussed his interest in joining the team. Steiner still sounds open to the possibility but said he won't waste time pursuing Ricciardo unless the Aussie calls him first to say he is interested.
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Pierre Gasly (14), Yuki Tsunoda (16)
2023 drivers under contract: Gasly (maybe not), Tsunoda
What we know: Tsunoda was recently signed to a contract extension and will remain with the team in 2023.
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, according to team principal Franz Tost, that would only happen if the team got approval to sign American IndyCar driver Colton Herta. However, the FIA has refused to grant him a Super License points exemption.
9. Aston Martin
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Sebastian Vettel (12), Lance Stroll (18)
2023 drivers under contract: Stroll, Fernando Alonso
What we know: Aston Martin announced during the summer break that two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso would replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel next season under a multi-year contract. Lance Stroll is under contract through 2023, and as long as his dad continues to write the checks, he will be with the team longer than that.
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Alex Albon (19), Nicholas Latifi (20)
2023 drivers under contract: Albon
What we know: Williams announced that Albon signed a multi-year extension to remain with the team, as expected. The team also announced that Latifi would not be back next season. His qualifying and race performance at the Italian Grand Prix — behind backup driver Nyck de Vries, who was subbing for Albon — certainly sealed that fate if it wasn't already.
According to Nate Saunders of ESPN, Williams was one of the teams that already reached out to Daniel Ricciardo about next season.
de Vries would seem like the frontrunner after his strong performance at Monza. However, they may have to outbid AlphaTauri and Alpine, teams with more competitive cars. The backup plan at the point would appear to be American Logan Sargeant, who is third in the F2 standings and a member of the Williams Driver Academy.
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