With Silly Season heating up, ATRL’s Tiegan Batchelor takes a look at the rumours and chaos from around the grid and what the final result may be.
If you’ve all been keeping up with F1 over the summer break, you’ll know that Silly Season has made a comeback once again. Silly Season often entails team moves, contract extensions and a whole lot of drama – this year is no exception!
Vettel’s Retirement and Alonso to Aston Martin
Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement for the end of the 2022 season, leaving a seat open at Aston Martin. This was quickly filled with an announcement that current Alpine driver, Fernando Alonso, would be taking this seat in the 2023 season. This came as quite a shock, considering Aston Martin is 79 points and 5 places down from Alpine in the Constructors’ Championship this season.
According to Sky Sports, Alonso’s shock move to Aston Martin was a result of a contract dispute, where they were offering a multi-year deal for him and this was nowhere to be seen at Alpine. Additionally, Alonso stated that he felt as though his negotiations were being leveraged with Oscar Piastri and the question of Alonso’s age and therefore, he believed the team did not want him. So the question becomes; who was going to fill the seat at Alpine?
Oscar Piastri: A Battle with Alpine and McLaren
Following the Alonso exit news, it seems as though Alpine had a quick fix to their driver line-up for 2023. F2 and F3 Champion, Oscar Piastri was appointed the team’s reserve driver for 2022, but clearly proved his driving ability over the last few years. With an open seat and a competitive driver in the wings, it was a no brainer for Alpine.
We then saw an announcement from Alpine on August 4th that Piastri would be promoted to F1 in 2023. This was however, quickly dispelled by Piastri himself.
After stating that Alpine had “made an announcement without his agreement”, Piastri took to twitter and explained that he would not be driving for the team in 2023. This incident left a lot of question marks around his future. In the aftermath of this, Otmar Szafnauer, Alpine’s Team Principal rebutted this, stating: “We are confident that Oscar signed with us back in November”.
Rumours then began to circulate about a possible move to McLaren for Piastri, after talks with his and McLaren management was seen. Following these rumours, it was quickly found that Mclaren had offered Piastri a contract for a racing seat in 2023.
This then led to the Contract Recognition Board to become involved and decide whether Piastri was contractually obligated to drive with Alpine or McLaren.
Now why would Piastri snub the team he has been working with for a number of years and had great support with?
Racing News 365 reported that Piastri did not have a reserve contract written for the 2022 season until 4 days into before the season began. Furthermore, the CRB found that Alpine had different contracts for Piastri in his reserve duties and potential F1 seat in 2023. However, Alpine consistently missed deadlines to send paperwork to Piastri’s team, causing frustration with Mark Webber, Piastri’s manager.
Moreover, a document was then sent to the Piastri camp, outlining a “roadmap” of Piastri’s future. This included a season or 2 at Williams, leaving it until 2025 before Piastri would actually race with Alpine in Formula 1.
With an intolerable wait to make his F1 debut with the Enstone team, Piastri was forced to look elsewhere. Therefore, on July 3rd, Piastri signed a “Driver Agreement” with McLaren on June 3rd and his driving contract on August 4th.
Overall, it was found that while Piastri did have negotiations at a future with Alpine, there was nothing legally binding. Whereas with McLaren, the contracts were signed and readily available. As a result, the CRB ruled in Mclaren’s favour to allow Piastri to drive for them.
Daniel Ricciardo Without a Seat?
As the rumours of Piastri’s signing to McLaren made their way round the F1 circuit, it was increasingly hard to think about Daniel Ricciardo and his future. After a difficult season with the team and a consistent struggle to obtain results, it was announced that he would leave McLaren at the end of the 2022 season.
While we know that Daniel is an experienced and talented driver, the top teams in F1 have their line-ups for 2023 secured and therefore, there isn’t a lot of choice. It was rumoured that he could be going to Alpine to replace Alonso – he previously raced with the team under the Renault name and the team favour him. However, nothing official has come through.
There have also been talks of a move to Haas, as Ricciardo’s team were seen at the Haas garage last week. With Mick Schumacher cutting ties with Ferrari at the end of the 2022 season, this could be a likely move for the Aussie driver.
On the other hand, there could be an open seat at Williams if the team are looking to replace Nicholas Latifi, but there may also be a chance that they are looking to promote one of their junior drivers.
Overall, Ricciardo still wants to be in F1, but it really depends on if a team wants him. He stated in an interview last week that he “still wanted to compete for a top team”, but with a less than stellar performance this season, this looks unlikely. There is also a video circulating the internet where Ricciardo tells Sergio Perez that he may take 2023 away from F1 and come back in 2024. Let’s hope we don’t have to see a 2023 grid without him.
Alongside all of these announcements over the last month or so, there may be a curveball for us to see yet. Recently, it was speculated that Pierre Gasly could be making a move from AlphaTauri to Alpine in 2023. PlanetF1.com reported that Christian Horner may be likely to release Gasly from the Red Bull sister team, if the opportunity presented itself.
Furthermore, Crash.net highlighted that if IndyCar Driver Colton Herta was granted his super license, he would be likely to get the promotion to AlphaTauri and therefore, releasing Gasly. Helmut Marko confirmed these agreements, claiming the teams should know by Monza if Herta would be granted an exemption as the American holds only 32 of the required 40 points.
Additionally, we could see a promotion of Nyck de Vries to Williams in 2023, if the team end their contract with Nicholas Latifi. Nyck de Vries recently stood in for Lewis Hamilton at the French Grand Prix during FP1 and did a particularly good job – The Independent reported that the Dutch driver clocked only half a second down on George Russell. The Dutch driver will be subbing in this weekend at Monza for Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin, furthering rumours of a move to F1. While again, this is mere speculation, we could see de Vries cutting ties with Mercedes to enter the Williams team and make his F1 debut. However when asked about this, Mercedes’ Team Principal said that they “couldn’t force such a move”.
To conclude, we have been more than spoiled in terms of a Silly Season – lots of drama and various scenarios for the 2023 lineup. Only time will tell about who will be occupying the grid next season.
Who would you like to see in the 2023 Driver line up? Let us know in the comments!
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