F1 driver market
F1 driver market: What started with some Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso bombshells, has turned into two teams seemingly battling over a rising young star; the story of Oscar Piastri, Alpine vs McLaren, and what it means for Daniel Ricciardo and the 2023 grid…
Silly season has well and truly arrived, so let’s explain how we got here via some Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso bombshells, a shock rejection, and how McLaren and Daniel Ricciardo are right in the thick of it
We have long known that all three of the top teams have their line-ups filled for 2023, while a news-heavy Hungarian GP weekend gave us more confirmation about next season’s grid.
Why Alonso’s ‘mega money’ Aston Martin deal has turned the F1 driver market upside down
Sebastian Vettel’s retirement opened up a space at Aston Martin, which they promptly, and surprisingly, filled with another multiple world champion in Fernando Alonso.
That freed up space at Alpine, one they thought they had their quick solution for when announcing the promotion of Oscar Piastri – although the highly-rated Australian hit back to insist he would not be driving there.
To add to the circus (which we will explain below), there could also be a spot open at McLaren, where Daniel Ricciardo is adamant he has a watertight contract for 2023 but the team’s management has hinted at having options, hence the asterisk in the table above.
VIDEO: THE INCREDIBLE F1 DRIVER MARKET MESS ALPINE IS NOW IN
On paper at least, Alpine is the best available seat in F1, while the Williams opening appears the next most attainable.
Alonso’s shock departure from Alpine to Aston Martin, who are currently five places and 79 points worse off in the championship, was down to a contract dispute, with the Silverstone outfit more willing to give the 41-year-old the multi-year deal he desired.
It certainly came as a surprise to Alpine, although also appeared to solve one of their issues. The Renault-owned team had already been sweating over the future of Piastri, their reserve driver and the reigning Formula 2 champion, and looked set to try and find him a seat elsewhere, the difficulties of which they learned last year when trying and failing.
Alonso’s exit opened up a competitive seat, and Alpine had a very competitive driver in-house and waiting. Simple, right?
What Alonso’s Alpine exit means for the rest of the F1 driver market
Alpine announced Piastri on Tuesday afternoon, although eyebrows were raised for many reasons. Firstly, the news came just hours after team boss Otmar Szafnauer said that there was no agreement. The press release was also put out in what would have been the middle of the night in Australia – not the best for traction and home support – while it also never actually used the words ‘signed’, rather ‘promoted’. Most bizarrely and suspiciously, there were no quotes included from Piastri himself.
We didn’t have to wait long to get a reaction from Piastri, and it wasn’t one Alpine would have been expecting.
“I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine F1 has put out a press release late this afternoon that I am driving for them next year,” posted Piastri on social media.
“This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year.”
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