F1 2023: THE CURRENT DRIVER MARKET
After Nyck de Vries' impressive points scoring debut in Monza for Williams and the many links connecting him to a seat for next year - it seemed only right to take a look at all the drivers currently being looked at for a drive in F1 and who may find themselves without a drive come March.
Firstly it makes sense to tick off all the teams which have driver pairing secured for next season and teams who are highly unlikely to change their drivers for 2023...
Starting with current Constructors and Drivers Championship leaders Red Bull - of course Max Verstappen isn't going anywhere the Dutchman is having a season to remember as he looks set to secure his second title in two years at the Milton Keynes based team. His teammate Sergio Perez has looked comfortable in the Red Bull putting in some solid performances including his infamous win in Monaco and six other podium appearances so far this season.
Next Ferrari - the title challengers who will be sticking with current driver pairing of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz two drivers who have had an excellent season despite the multiple strategy blunders by the Prancing Horse. Sainz took his first win in F1 earlier this year in Silverstone while Leclerc looked like an early title contender with wins in Bahrain, Australia and Austria.
Onto Mercedes the team which has dominated the sport since 2014. However 2022 hasn't been the greatest for Mercedes considering the last eight years - with no wins as of writing this - it will surely be considered an alright season as the Brackley based team have racked up multiple podiums with both Russell and Hamilton. Hamilton has been on the podium six times and Russell seven times. The Silver Arrows currently sit third in the constructors not far behind Ferrari in second.
McLaren looked solid in 2021 with a 1-2 in Monza with Ricciardo taking the teams first win for nine years but 2022 hasn't quite been the season the team would have wanted with just one podium so far this season in April at Imola where Lando Norris finished third. Norris has looked solid all season and remains with the team for the foreseeable future while the struggling Daniel Ricciardo has been replaced with former F3 and F2 Champion and fellow countryman Oscar Piastri taking his seat for 2023. McLaren will be one to watch next season as the team hope to fight for more wins and podiums as well as to see how Piastri gets on at the highest level of motorsport.
Aston Martin have their driver pairing locked in for next season with Lance Stroll staying with the team his dad owns (of course) while the retiring Sebastian Vettel is replaced with the highly experienced Fernando Alonso who leaves Alpine.
Alfa Romeo have confirmed Valtteri Bottas for next season and I would assume they are likely to announce in the coming months that they will be sticking with rookie Guanyu Zhou after an impressive first season for the Chinese driver.
Now onto the teams which don't currently have two drivers confirmed for 2023, lets begin with a team most recently in headlines... Alpine. With Esteban Ocon contracted for next year and Alonso jumping ship and Piastri going to court over his contract the French team are forced to look elsewhere for a second driver, in recent reports it has looked as though Pierre Gasly could make the move from Alpha Tauri but that decision is really down to Red Bull and Helmut Marko. Despite this Ocon has made it publicly known he would like to have Mick Schumacher (who is at Haas, but has struggled for form recently) as his teammate next year but insists he has no authority over who will be his teammate.
Speaking of Haas, the American team will stick with Kevin Magnussen while it seems likely that they will replace Schumacher who is set to cut ties with Ferrari. Possible options for the American team could include the outgoing Ricciardo or the ever present Nico Hulkenberg who could be set for a full time seat after time away from the sport making the occasional super-sub appearance for Alpine and Aston Martin. I thought at one point maybe F2 Champion Felipe Drugovich could be in with a chance for driver but the Brazilian recently signed for Aston Martin to become their development driver so we will likely see him make a handful of FP1 appearances next year.
Onto a team slightly higher up the grid - Alpha Tauri who will stick with Tsunoda but with Gasly possibly on his way to Alpine the Red Bull sister team have been looking over at IndyCar's Colton Herta but many will argue if given the drive it ruins the whole junior series ladder system currently, in place with F2 and F3, another factor is that Herta doesn't currently hold enough Super Licence points to race in F1. No other options have come up so far for Alpha Tauri, but they of course have an extensive young driver program with plenty of talent waiting for that phone call...
Finally, Williams, with Alex Albon locked in for 2023 the questions remains... is Nicholas Latifi good enough for F1, sadly for Latifi many would argue against him and after de Vries' sub appearance and points scored at Monza, Latifi now sits 21st in a 20 driver championship. I feel this season maybe the last for Latifi in F1 with many options for Williams to replace the Canadian including 2019 F2 Champion de Vries, 2020 F2 Champion Schumacher and maybe even Ricciardo...
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