Behind the scenes

F1 ‘silly season’ hits top speed as 2023 grid takes shape

Twitter explodes with news of driver moves, denials and rumours 

What a week it’s been in the wild world of Formula 1. With the sport now on its summer break “silly season” has roared into view and social media has been flooded with speculation about what the driver grid could look like in 2023. 

Just some of the confirmed news from the past seven days included Sebastian Vettel announcing his retirement and freeing up a space next season at Aston Martin. They replaced a four-time world champion with a two-time title winner, bringing in Fernando Alonso. 

With an empty seat now up for grabs at Alpine, alongside Esteban Ocon, the rumour mill has gone into overdrive. Here’s what’s been going on behind the scenes in F1. 

Piastri and Alpine nearly break Twitter 

The F1 Twitterverse “literally exploded” on Tuesday, said Cambridge Kisby on WTF1. It all started when Alpine announced that their reserve driver, Australian Oscar Piastri, had been promoted to a race seat next year to replace Aston Martin-bound Alonso. 

However, in a bombshell reply 21-year-old Piastri denied Alpine’s claim that he would be driving for them in 2023 and said, quite emphatically, that this was “wrong”. F1 Twitter “lives for moments like this”, said Kisby. After the Alonso news and then Piastri, you’ve “got to feel a bit sorry for the Alpine PR team”. 

With fans, teams and drivers sent into a frenzy on social media, Tuesday 2 August 2022 will “go down as one of the more extraordinary news days in Formula 1’s recent history”, said F1 correspondent and presenter Lawrence Barretto. 

Piastri to replace Ricciardo at McLaren? 

With back-to-back Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles, Piastri has been regarded as “motorsport’s most talented youngster for some time”, said Matt Morlidge on Sky Sports. So it’s no surprise that teams are keen on his signature. 

After “much drama” in the past week over Piastri’s future, RacingNews365.com has “learnt” that the Australian will drive for McLaren in 2023. Sources down under have said that Piastri has signed a contract at McLaren that would see him partner Lando Norris and replace compatriot Daniel Ricciardo.

Autosport “understands” that McLaren bosses have “officially told” Ricciardo that they intend to replace him with Piastri next year. Ricciardo has a “firm contract for next season”, and the team will now have to agree a settlement involving “a substantial pay-off in order for him to walk away”. 

Ricciardo’s future is not the only one up in the air. He is linked to Alpine along with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly. Meanwhile, Haas driver Mick Schumacher is facing an “uncertain summer” as doubts emerge over his long-term future in F1, said the Daily Express

Albon signs multi-year deal at Williams 

One driver whose seat is definitely secured for 2023 is Alex Albon. Williams confirmed on Wednesday that the 26-year-old had signed a new multi-year agreement for 2023 and beyond. 

In a cheeky nod to the Alpine-Piastri fiasco, Albon confirmed that the deal was real – and he had been consulted on it. “I understand that, with my agreement, Williams Racing have put out a press release this afternoon that I am driving for them next year,” he said. “This is right and I have signed a contract with Williams for 2023. I will be driving for Williams next year.”

F1 2023 grid: confirmed drivers so far 

The top three teams – Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes – have their drivers confirmed for next season. Further down the grid there could be more changes this summer. Former F1 driver Marcus Ericsson has predicted how the rest of the silly season will play out. After Alonso’s “middle finger to Alpine switch”, he’s backed AlphaTauri’s Gasly to join Esteban Ocon at the French team and for Ricciardo to move to Haas. Ericsson tweeted: “It’s called silly season for a reason.”

TeamDriverDriver
Red BullMax VerstappenSergio Perez
FerrariCharles LeclercCarlos Sainz
MercedesLewis HamiltonGeorge Russell
AlpineEsteban OconTBC
McLarenLando NorrisDaniel Ricciardo (TBC)
Alfa RomeoValtteri BottasTBC
HaasKevin MagnussenTBC
Aston MartinFernando AlonsoLance Stroll
AlphaTauriPierre GaslyTBC
WilliamsAlex AlbonTBC

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