Helmut Marko says Pierre Gasly’s future will be decided at Japanese GP

'Silly season' is nearing its end for another year, with two seats set to be filled this weekend.

With four seats seemingly still up for grabs ahead of this weekend’s returning Japanese Grand Prix, it appears that the picture will be “clearer” during the weekend at Suzuka.

According to Canal Plus, Pierre Gasly is set to be announced as Fernando Alonso’s replacement at Alpine this weekend, setting up for an interesting encounter with rival Esteban Ocon.

Ex-F1 driver Ralf Schumacher recently claimed that Gasly ‘stole’ Ocon’s girlfriend years ago, leading to their rivalry.

As well as Gasly being announced as a 2023 Alpine driver, it is also expected that Mercedes reserve Nyck de Vries will be announced by AlphaTauri once the Gasly/Alpine announcement has been made, clearing up two of the remaining seats.

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Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko is expecting Gasly’s move to Alpine to be “decided by Suzuka”, with the Austrian believing that there will be a “clearer picture” this weekend.

“First of all, Gasly’s position must be clarified,” Marko told the Austrian broadcaster ORF.

“Only then will it be decided who will come to AlphaTauri,” he added. “It should not be a downside solution for us.

“That means that the replacement will have to be a fast and high-profile driver.

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“We hope to have a clearer picture by the weekend,” added Marko.

“I presume that it will be decided by Suzuka. Then we can say what will happen.”

With De Vries set to move to the Red Bull sister team, it leaves a reserve driver role open at the Silver Arrows.

Again, according to Canal Plus, outgoing McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo is in “advanced” negotiations about becoming the team’s new reserve from 2023, something which will see the Aussie on the side-lines next season but amongst a frontrunning set-up.

The Aussie is, of course, being replaced by fellow Australian Oscar Piastri, who in return is managed by ex-F1 driver Mark Webber.

Webber revealed that he spoke to Ricciardo in Singapore, in what was a “good chat”.

The ex-F1 driver explained that Ricciardo remains unsure on his next step, but that a role at Mercedes is a “pretty handy operation”.

“I had a good chat to him,” admitted Webber.

“I still don’t think he’s sure,” he said when asked about Ricciardo’s next move.

“A Merc reserve driver role? Who knows how long Lewis (Hamilton) is going to go on for. “Merc is a pretty handy operation, so it’s something he might consider.”

With Ricciardo set for a year on the side-lines, it means just two seats are left to be decided.

The first of those is Haas, who are deciding on who will partner Kevin Magnussen in 2023.

It’s set to be a straight fight between current Haas driver Mick Schumacher and Aston Martin reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg.

Supposedly, Hulkenberg had moved ahead of the 23-year-old in the race for the second Haas seat; however, Sky Deutschland are claiming that “initial talks” have taken place between the Americans and Schumacher about a contract extension.

“According to our information, there were initial talks with those responsible for the Haas team in Singapore about a possible contract extension,” Sky Deutschland claimed ahead of the Japanese GP weekend.

Should Schumacher miss out on the Haas seat, then he is in contention for Nicholas Latifi’s vacant Williams seat.

The spot at Williams is believed to be F2 driver Logan Sargeant’s, if he finishes in the top six of the Drivers’ Championship.

The American driver is set to achieve this, with him currently occupying P3.

If he fails at the final hurdle then it’s likely to be Schumacher’s seat; however, that depends on when Haas make their decision.

Haas boss Guenther Steiner doesn’t feel a need to “hurry” and believes there isn’t a “deadline”.

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“Mick is still on the list because otherwise we would have already made a decision,” Steiner said in Singapore.

“I don’t know when we’ll decide. We don’t have a deadline,” he revealed.

“We’ll make the decision when we’re ready.”