The Formula 1 driver market is always an interesting proposition, with plenty of rumours surrounding those who could be on the move and their reported destinations. And the driver market for 2023 will be no different, with what many describe as silly season already underway.
One of the biggest stories in the driver market realm so far has involved Oscar Piastri, Alpine’s current test and reserve driver. Alpine believed that Piastri would be driving for them next season and went as far as putting out a statement to confirm the news. However, Piastri responded by suggesting the news was untrue and that he would not be driving for the French team next season.
It's since surfaced that Piastri is now going to be driving for McLaren and replacing Daniel Ricciardo in doing so. Zak Brown, the McLaren CEO, had recently hinted that Ricciardo’s deal would be ended a year early after an underwhelming season, and the news has now been confirmed to the veteran driver. It could now be a case of swapping teams where Ricciardo and Piastri are involved, with the former possibly returning to drive for Alpine, who he raced for when they were known as Renault.
Another headline grabber where the driver market was concerned was Sebastian Vettel deciding to call time on his Formula 1 career. He currently drives for Aston Martin, and the German’s place is now set to be filled by Fernando Alonso, which is how the vacated seat at Apline has come to pass.
In terms of the bigger Formula 1 teams, it’s going to be a case of things staying the same for now. Sergio Perez impressed enough to pick up a two-year contract extension after winning the Monaco Grand Prix. At the same time, teammate Max Verstappen is already tied to Red Bull until 2028.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, like Perez, has impressed and been rewarded with a new two-year deal of his own. Sainz will stay with Ferrari until at least 2025, which is also when Charles Leclerc’s deal is set to run out. In Leclerc and Sainz, Ferrari certainly have two excellent drivers on their hands if they can iron out the team’s failings.
Lewis Hamilton’s future in Formula 1 is often a topic of discussion, especially after the controversy that saw the title slip from his grasp last season. At present, he’s with Mercedes and contracted until the end of the 2023 campaign. However, it remains to be seen whether the Brit will see the remainder of his deal out, as many continue to tip him for retirement, especially with Mercedes drastically underperforming this season.
Hamilton’s teammate George Russell is seen as a star of the future in Mercedes and F1 circles. And on joining the team, he penned a long-term agreement. So, in the event of Hamilton moving on or retiring, it’s likely to be Russell who steps in as his replacement, carrying the Mercedes torch for years to come.