Written by Vyas Ponnuri, edited by Sameena Khan
The F1 community was caught by surprise when double World Champion Fernando Alonso announced a shock move to Aston Martin on a multi-year contract, starting from the 2023 F1 season. This move was one that came as a surprise to many parties, including his current team, Alpine-Renault, with whom Alonso was set to sign a new deal for 2023, with an option to extend the deal upto 2024 as well.
This sudden departure by the Spaniard had left Alpine scurrying to find a replacement for the 41-year old, which is a huge pair of boots to fill for any other driver. They eventually announced that Oscar Piastri would race for the 2023 season however less than 24 hours later, Piastri declined this comment. This leaves the Alpine seat open. What impact does that have on the driver market? Read on to find out.
The current status of the driver market
At present, 15 drivers have a seat for the next season. The remaining six seats are yet to be filled: one each at Alfa Romeo, Alpine, Alpha Tauri, and Haas, and both seats at Williams. But with Williams set to re-sign Alexander Albon, and Alfa Romeo set to do the same for Zhou Guanyu, that leaves effectively three seats yet to be filled for the 2023 F1 season.
Elsewhere, Daniel Ricciardo had re-affirmed that he was committed to staying at McLaren until his contract tenure ends, which is the end of next season. Although, there is still plenty of speculation as to whether he will stay at McLaren for next season.
Alonso’s shock move to Aston, and the Piastri dilemma
The driver market for next season was set in motion with four time world champion Sebastian Vettel announcing his retirement at the end of the 2022 Formula 1 season. This opened up a seat at Aston Martin, with the team announcing that they had signed Fernando Alonso from Alpine, which caught the French team by surprise. This left the team working out a deal to get their young driver Oscar Piastri into the seat for the 2023 Formula 1 season. Yet, this had taken an unexpected turn with some recent developments on this topic.
It was expected that Alpine’s signing of Oscar Piastri for next season would be a formality, considering the Australian’s ties with the team. However, an unexpected variable had been thrown into the mix, with Piastri’s manager Mark Webber considering looking for a seat with rival teams, in the event of Alonso staying at Alpine for 2023. The recent announcement of Alonso’s departure had sent the French team into a tizzy, and them trying to get Piastri to sign for their team, now knowing that a seat had opened up there. Alpine did announce that Piastri had signed to race for them however the announcement is under speculation after Piastri has declined signing a contract for the 2023 Formula 1 season, creating more rumours on where Piastri will end up and if there is potentially another seat for the young driver.
The situation for the other drivers
With the news of Oscar Piastri potentially signing for Alpine, this leaves three seats yet to be filled for the 2023 season. Of the three, it is expected that Mick Schumacher will re-sign with Haas for the next season. That leaves the debate over the remaining seats at Alpha Tauri and Williams. Will Yuki Tsunoda and Nicholas Latifi re-sign with their respective teams? Or are the teams looking at signing drivers from their respective driver academies instead? If the one Alpine seat does indeed still remain, it begs the question of where Piastri could be heading.
This will turn into an interesting debate as we move into the second half of the Formula 1 season.