Who is going where next year? The “Silly Season” of Formula 1 is in full swing. There are big question marks behind Sebastian Vettel, Mick Schumacher and Fernando Alonso.
The Formula 1 rumor mill for the Silly Season – it has been bubbling over the past few weeks. Pierre Gasly to Mercedes because Lewis Hamilton resigns? Nothing wrong, Hamilton will drive for the Silver Arrows next year, Gasly extended his contract with AlphaTauri.
Daniel Ricciardo out of McLaren? A question that several British media and also “Sky” expert Ralf Schumacher repeatedly raised has also been answered: No, the Australian stays, as McLaren boss Zak Brown himself made clear in Silverstone in the RTL / ntv interview.
Tsunoda and Zhou convince
So the driver market is slowly sorting itself out. Cockpits at Alpine, AlphaTauri, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, Williams and Haas are still open for the coming season. In other words: Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda, Sebastian Vettel, Zhou Guanyu, Nicholas Latifi and Mick Schumacher do not have a contract in their pocket for 2023.
Let’s start with the two Asians. In the paddock, it is considered certain that Tsunoda will stay with AlphaTauri. After a difficult rookie year, the Japanese is convincing in the current season, drives consistently and is mostly on par with his strong garage neighbor Gasly. Team boss Franz Tost is satisfied – that’s saying something.
Zhou is also in the process of earning his Alfa-Sauber cockpit for next year. In any case, team boss Frédéric Vasseur is very satisfied with his driver pairing, as he emphasized in the RTL/ntv interview.
The cooperation between the experienced Valtteri Bottas and the young Zhou is “perfect so far,” said Vasseur. Should the Chinese show strong performances and continue to improve, as he has done recently, “it would be best for our company if we continue with him,” said the Frenchman.
Sounds a lot like a contract extension, especially since Zhou is of enormous importance for the marketing of F1 in China and flushes millions of Alfa sponsors into the team coffers.
Fernando Alonso has his future in his own hands
It is unclear how Alpine, Aston Martin, Haas and Williams will continue. Who gets which seat here depends primarily on two drivers: the old masters Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.
At the beginning of the year, Alonso emphasized that he was having fun and wanted to drive in Formula 1 again in 2023. However, the Spaniard has not yet extended his contract with Alpine. If you listen to team boss Otmar Szafnauer, Alonso practically has his future in his own hands.
Alpine is very satisfied with the 40-year-old, the factory team will hold talks with Alonso in the coming weeks, said Szafnauer. He expects a decision after the summer break.
Alonso’s desire and mood also decides on the future of alpine noble talent Oscar Piastri. If Alonso quits (or sees another option for himself), the Australian will drive alongside Esteban Ocon next year.
If Alonso stays with Alpine, the French could “borrow” Piastri to Williams. He is sure that Piastri will drive in the premier class in 2023, said Szafnauer and recommended with a wink to listen to Williams boss Jost Capito.
Piastri at Williams only an option
Said and done. And yes, Capito makes no bones about the fact that Williams has Piastri on the list. “George Russell was in a similar situation to Oscar now that he needed a seat as a Mercedes driver and Mercedes was looking for a team for him so he could gain experience so he could go to Mercedes. I think Alpine wants it do the same with Piastri,” said the 63-year-old in the RTL/ntv interview.
A “loan” from Piastri to Williams is “certainly a possibility, no question,” said Capito. “But we also have to see for the future: If you really want to get to the top, you have to have your own drivers.”
The team boss referred to the Williams Academy for young drivers and Formula 2 driver Logan Sargeant. The American will have his super license next year, said Capito: “He’s definitely an option because he’s our driver.”
In view of these comments, one thing is clear: Nicholas Latifi’s time at the traditional British racing team is running out, and the Canadian himself has no illusions in this regard, as he admitted with refreshing honesty at Silverstone.
This is the crux of Vettel’s decision
The key figures Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher remain. Aston Martin, that much is certain, definitely wants to extend the contract with the veteran, as Mike Krack emphasized again in an interview with our editors.
Whether Vettel continues or not will depend not only on his very personal plans for life, but above all on the performance of the British team in the next races.
“We have to show him that after our poor start to the season we are able to improve this vehicle to an extent that Sebastian sees light at the end of the tunnel again. When he sees that the package is working, there is progress, then he falls the decision is also much easier,” said Krack at Silverstone.
Vettel also said before the British GP in an interview with RTL / ntv that he wanted to see how the next races went and then decide. “I don’t think we’ll need forever.”
More good cards for Mick Schumacher
But what if Vettel stops? Mick Schumacher has been mentioned several times in the media as a successor, which is difficult to imagine. In addition to the colorless permanent cockpit owner Lance Stroll, Aston Martin needs an experienced driver who can feed the team with his feedback and push him forward.
Which fuels speculation that Alonso could join the British should Vettel have enough. Racing team owner Lawrence Stroll is said to be a big fan of the two-time world champion.
Mick Schumacher probably only has one realistic option for 2023: a contract extension with Haas. Despite mixed performances in the season so far, Schumacher as a Ferrari junior has a good chance of continuing with the US team.
As an engine and parts supplier, the Reds can have a say when the place next to Kevin Magnussen is awarded. The prerequisite for this, however, remains that Schumi jr. convinced on the track until the summer break.