With the summer break officially underway, so is ‘silly season’, with Fernando Alonso’s recent announcement having started the race to fill the remaining seats.
Following on from Sebastian Vettel’s announcement last week that he’d be retiring from Formula 1, Alonso announced on Monday that he’d be replacing the German on a multi-year deal at the Aston Martin F1 Team.
Nobody in the paddock saw the move coming, with Mick Schumacher expected to be the firm favourite to replace his ‘mentor’.
With a seat at the Alpine F1 Team suddenly open, the French side quickly announced that they’d be promoting reserve driver Oscar Piastri for 2023, to line-up alongside Esteban Ocon.
However, Piastri suddenly made his own statement shortly after, revealing that he hadn’t agreed to race for Alpine in 2023, and that he crucially wouldn’t be either.
Piastri was rumoured to have been in discussions with both the McLaren F1 Team and Williams Racing, regarding a seat for next season.
It’s highly unlikely that Piastri would reject Alpine for a seat at Williams, especially as the British team have been a backmarker for the last several years.
This leaves many to believe that Piastri has an agreement in place with McLaren, to replace Daniel Ricciardo.
Ricciardo; however, is still under contract for 2023, meaning that the 33-year-old Australian would need a guaranteed seat elsewhere for him to terminate his contract with the Woking-based team.
That guaranteed seat could come at Alpine, whom Ricciardo famously left at the end of 2020, whilst the team were still known as Renault.
Piastri to McLaren and Ricciardo to Alpine is what’s predicted by most; however, this still leaves two seats at Williams and a single seat at the Haas F1 Team, Alfa Romeo F1 Team and Scuderia AlphaTauri.
Alfa Romeo are likely to offer rookie Guanyu Zhou a new deal, with the Chinese driver having performed excellently in his first season in F1.
Yuki Tsunoda is also predicted to remain with AlphaTauri; the Japanese driver has performed well at times this season but still lacks consistency.
With Schumacher having lost out on the Aston Martin seat, his only chance at remaining in the sport will probably be to remain at Haas.
Since scoring his first ever points in F1, the young German has performed much better; should he keep his form up then he should be retained by Haas.
That just leaves Williams, who have been linked with a number of drivers, to replace Nicholas Latifi.
It’s expected that whilst Alex Albon will be retained by the team, Latifi will be let go.
Piastri had been linked with a loan to Williams, but with his move to McLaren looking imminent, it looks like the final seat at the British team will go to either Mercedes test driver and 2021 Formula E World Champion Nyck de Vries, or Formula 2 driver Logan Sargeant.
De Vries ran in FP1 for Williams at the Spanish Grand Prix, with Sargeant having been announced as driving for the team in FP1 at the United States Grand Prix.
Sargeant is also a Williams Academy Driver, something which could go in his favour.
There is also the chance that Latifi may even stay at the team; however, this is the most unlikely outcome.
With so much going on and a number of seats left to be filled, former F1 driver Marcus Ericsson shared his ‘silly season’ predictions on Twitter, where he went for an interesting combo of Schumacher and Tsunoda at AlphaTauri.
Ericsson tweeted: “After Alonso’s “middle finger to Alpine switch” this is how the rest of F1 silly season will play out:
“Alpine Ocon-Gasly. AlphaT Schumacher-Tsunoda. Mclaren Norris-Piastri. AlfaR Bottas-Zhou. Haas Mag-Ricciardo. Williams Albon-De Vries. It’s called Silly season for a reason.”