2023 Silly Season Round Up
Updated: Aug 25, 2022
The summer break has arguably brought with it one of the most chaotic weeks in driver market history. Currently, just Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, and Aston Martin have their driver lineups confirmed.
Silly season kicked off with four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel's retirement, opening a seat at Aston Martin. On Monday, Fernando Alonso shocked the F1 world by deciding to take that seat. The move was followed shortly after that by an even more shocking series of events culminating in Oscar Piastri, the reserve driver at Alpine, announcing he would not be joining Alpine to replace Alonso. All signs point to him joining McLaren in place of Daniel Ricciardo.
Below are our predictions for who fills the seats at the remaining six teams.
So far, only Alex Albon has been confirmed to drive for Williams in 2023. Alex has consistently been ahead n both qualifying and races of teammate Nicholas Latifi this season. It is widely believed and reported that Williams is considering options to replace Latifi. Piastri was at one point the favorite, but given recent events, Wiliams Academy driver Logan Sargeant has emerged as a likely replacement.
Logan has impressed in Formula 2 this season, currently ahead of his very talented teammate and Red Bull Junior Liam Lawson. He now sits third in the championship. Formula 2 will race in a supporting role for the upcoming F1 triple header at Spa, Zandvoort, and Monza. If Logan impresses, we fully expect him to get the seat.
Other options include Nyck de Vries (Formula E), Mick Schumacher (Haas), Felipe Drugovich (F2), Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren), Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo), and their current driver, Nicholas Latifi.
Lewis Hamilton's longtime wingman, Valtteri Borras, has emerged as one of the stars of the F1 season so far. Alfa Romeo is enjoying success compared to previous years, primarily led by Bottas. Alfa Romeo currently has Bottas under contract for two more seasons. That leaves Zhou Guanyu's seat as the only one still up for grabs.
Zhou has performed well in his first season. He has been close in pace to his teammate and, on occasion, out-qualified him. But in his rearview mirror is Theo Pourchaire. A prospect in the Sauber (Alfa Romeo) Driver Academy and currently sitting in second place in Formula 2. Pourchaire is the youngest driver in Formula 2 as well.
What might end up saving Zhou is Felipe Drugovitch's strong F2 campaign. He has built a seemingly insurmountable lead in the championship ahead of the final four races. We believe Zhou will keep the seat at Alfa Romeo, and Pourchaire will join as a full-time reserve in 2023. Bottas and Zhou will then compete to race alongside Pourchaire in 2024.
Other options include Mick Schumacher (Haas) and Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren).
Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher occupy the two Haas seats. Kevin is on a multi-year deal while Mick's contract expires this year. All signs point to Mick renewing. However, rumors that Mick is leaving the Ferrari Driver Academy have left some to question what is going on. Haas is the team most closely aligned with Ferrari in Formula 1 as a customer team. Reports have also revealed that Mick's contract talks are on hold until after the summer break.
We believe Mick makes a shock exit from the team with Daniel Ricciardo replacing him. Daniel is on the outs from McLaren, and while it thought he could return to Alpine, others suit that spot better than Daniel. Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me. Alpine was scorned by Daniel in 2020 when he originally left the team; our thought is they don't bring him back for another go.
Haas is F1's only American team. Daniel has called America his second home. The move makes sense, and while many will see it as another step-down, which it is, it will give both parties exactly what they need. Daniel gets to leave F1 on his terms. Haas gets to continue building its brand and put the car in safer, more experienced hands. Daniel will also be able to take a lower salary with the buyout from McLaren set to bring Daniel over 10 million USD.
Other options include Zhou Guanyu, Rob Schwartzman (most recently in F2), and Antonio Giovinazzi (Formula E).
We believe the driver lineup at McLaren is locked in. Lando Norris will partner with Oscar Piastri in 2023. Alpine has challenged Oscar's move to McLaren. We do not yet know if that will be successful.
Other options include Alex Palou (IndyCar), Colton Herta (IndyCar), Nyck de Vries (IndyCar), and while unlikely, the return of Daniel Ricciardo.
This past week, the center of the F1 world currently has one driver under contract and confirmed for 2023, Esteban Ocon. The other seat remains up for grabs but will likely have to wait for the Piastri saga to conclude before it is filled.
We believe the most likely replacement for Alonso is the Frenchman, Pierre Gasly. Pierre currently drives for Alpha Tauri. He was recently confirmed to be an Alpha Tauri driver for 2023, but reports suggest he has an out clause in his contract if a team higher up in the constructor's standings wants to hire him. Gasly makes sense. He would make an all-French team with Esteban and is seen as one of the best prospects in F1, not currently on a top team.
Other options include Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren), Theo Pourchaire (F2), Jack Doohan (F2), Mick Schumacher (Haas), and Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo).
Finally, that leaves AlphaTauri. Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly currently occupy their two seats. While the season has not been as successful as last year, both drivers are capable. We have predicted Pierre will move to Alpine and expect AlphaTauri to resign Tsunoda. Red Bull, the sister team of AlphaTauri, recently signed a deal with Honda to provide engines. Honda is a backer of Tsunoda and likely pushed for him to be resigned as part of the deal.
As for the other seat, Red Bull has the largest academy of the F1 teams. Prominent names include F2 drivers Liam Lawson, Ayuma Iwasa, and Jehan Daruvala. While all have had success this season, none are ready for Formula 1. Formula 3 drivers Isack Hadjar and Jak Crawford are the best prospects in the academy but need at least another year before they can be considered. That leaves the best option available as Mick Schumacher.
Red Bull is about to sign a partnership agreement with Porsche. The German manufacturer would likely love the idea of bringing in Mick. In the Red Bull system, Mick will have a chance to prove himself with the opportunity to one day replace Sergio Perez.
Other options include the Red Bull Academy drivers.
That leaves a projected 2023 Formula 1 Grid of:
Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton, George Russell
Ferrari: Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz
Red Bull: Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen
Alpine: Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon
McLaren: Lando Norris, Oscar Piastri
AlphaTauri: Yuki Tsunoda, Mick Schumacher
Williams: Alex Albon, Logan Sargeant
Alfa Romeo: Valtteri Bottas, Zhou Guanyu
Haas: Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo
Aston Martin: Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll