The 2022 F1 silly season kicked off with the announcement that Fernando Alonso will leave Alpine at the end of the season and replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin and it has only gotten weirder since then.
That move set up a staredown between Alpine and McLaren for the rights to super-prospect Oscar Piastri, which could leave Daniel Ricciardo without a car.
There are now either 14 or 15 drivers under contract for the 2023 season, depending on what you want to believe about Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren.
Below we take a look at the driver situation for next season at each team, going in order of the current Constructors' Championship standings.
1. Red Bull
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Max Verstappen (1), Sergio Perez (3)
2023 drivers under contract: Verstappen, Perez
What we know: Both drivers are under contract for the 2023 season. Verstappen, the defending F1 champion, signed an extension in March that will keep him with Red Bull at least through the 2028 season. In May, the team announced a new extension for Perez to keep him with the team through 2024.
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Charles Leclerc (2), Carlos Sainz (5)
2023 drivers under contract: Leclerc, Sainz
What we know: Both drivers are under contract for the 2023 season. Sainz signed an extension in April to keep him with Ferrari through the 2024 season. Leclerc is also under contract through the 2024 season. However, one report says Leclerc can opt out of the deal at the end of this season if Ferrari finishes fourth or lower in the standings. That seems unlikely.
2022 lineup (current championship standing): George Russell (4), Lewis Hamilton (6)
2023 drivers under contract: Russell, Hamilton
What we know: According to F1, Hamilton is under contract through the 2023 season, having signed a 2-year extension during the 2021 season. Russell, in his first season with Mercedes, is signed through 2024.
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Esteban Ocon (8), Fernando Alonso (10)
2023 drivers under contract: Ocon
What we know: According to F1, Ocon is under contract with Alpine through the 2024 season. Alonso announced that he will be driving for Aston Martin in 2023 to replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel.
The most common name linked to Alonso's soon-to-be-vacant seat was Oscar Piastri, who is currently Alpine's reserve driver. After Alonso's move, the team announced Piastri would be their second driver. However, Piastri refuted that announcement, saying he had not signed a contract and would not drive for Alpine in 2023. According to ESPN, he has signed a contract to join McLaren for 2023.
Could Daniel Ricciardo return to Alpine if Piastri goes to McLaren? Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer, when asked about the team reuniting with Ricciardo said of their past: "I don't think that's an issue at all." If they don't land Ricciardo, Mick Schumacher and Mercedes reserve driver Nick de Vries are also options.
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Lando Norris (7), Daniel Ricciardo (12)
2023 drivers under contract: Norris, Ricciardo (maybe), Oscar Piastri (maybe)
What we know: Norris signed an extension earlier this year that will keep him with McLaren through at least 2025. Ricciardo has a contract for the 2023 season and has repeatedly said he plans to honor the deal. Still, rumors persist that the two sides are not on the same page and Ricciardo may be bluffing to force a better buyout.
According to ESPN, McLaren told Ricciardo after the Hungarian Grand Prix that he will be replaced by Piastri next season and the two sides are negotiating a buyout. Motorsport.com reports that McLaren has signed Piastri to a reserve driver role and intends to replace Ricciardo with Piastri once the buyout is settled.
If a divorce settlement can't be reached between McLaren and Ricciardo, another option could be to keep him as the backup driver in 2023.
Several other young drivers had been linked to Ricciardo's seat for either 2023 or 2024, including IndyCar drivers Pato O'Ward (already drives for McLaren), Colton Herta (recently test drove for McLaren), and Alex Palou (signed to join McLaren in 2023).
6. Alfa Romeo
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Valtteri Bottas (9), Zhou Guanyu (17)
2023 drivers under contract: Bottas
What we know: Bottas, in his first year with Alfa Romeo, is under contract for 2023, and both sides seem happy with the move. Zhou, in his first F1 season, is not signed for 2023. However, he has driven better than his place in the standings might suggest, thanks to some bad luck, and is expected to remain with the team next season.
The one complication for Zhou could be Theo Pourchaire who is second in the F2 standings and is expected to get an FP1 practice session with Alfa Romeo later this season.
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Kevin Magnussen (11), Mick Schumacher (15)
2023 drivers under contract: Magnussen
What we know: Magnussen is under contract for the 2023 season, having signed with the team on the eve of the schedule to replace Nikita Mazepin. Schumacher is not signed for next season. After struggling to start the season, Schumacher has shown better form recently.
Team principal Guenther Steiner said that the team would decide on Schumacher's future during the summer break over the next few weeks. However, German outlet RTL reported that Steiner called off negotiations with Schumacher. With Aston Martin picking Fernando Alonso over Schumacher — Sebastian Vettel's choice of replacement — Schumacher is in danger of being out of F1 in 2023.
If Schumacher is out, Lawrence Barretto said former F1 drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Antonio Giovinazzi "are very much in the mix." Hulkenberg is currently Aston Martin's reserve driver and Giovinazzi is competing in Formula E.
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Pierre Gasly (13), Yuki Tsunoda (16)
2023 drivers under contract: Gasly
What we know: After a strong 2021 season, Gasly was rumored to be on the move following this season since no openings were expected on Red Bull's top team in the near future. However, after a slow start to the 2022 season, Gasly re-signed with AlphaTauri to remain with the team through next season.
Tsunoda's contract expires at the end of the season, and it is still up in the air if he will be back with Red Bull's sister team next year. Team advisor Helmut Marko recently called Tsunoda a "problem child" over his in-race radio outbursts. Team principal Franz Tost said if he can eliminate some of the crashes, he has "a good chance" to remain with the team.
9. Aston Martin
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Sebastian Vettel (14), Lance Stroll (18)
2023 drivers under contract: Stroll, Fernando Alonso
What we know: Alfa Romeo announced during the summer break that two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso would replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel next season under a multi-year contract. Lance Stroll is under contract through 2023, and as long as his dad continues to write the checks, he will be with the team longer than that.
2022 lineup (current championship standing): Alex Albon (19), Nicholas Latifi (20)
2023 drivers under contract: Albon
What we know: Williams has announced that Albon has signed a multi-year extension to remain with the team, as expected. Latifi is not under contract and is expected to be out at the end of the year.
Several young drivers have been linked to Williams for next year, including American Logan Sargeant, who is third in the F2 standings and a member of the Williams Driver Academy. Others include F2 championship leader Felipe Drugovich and Mercedes reserve driver Nyck de Vries.
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