The latest on the 2023 F1 driver market and what that could mean for the future

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div property=”content:encoded”>There was a lot of uncertainty at the start of the year, with 11 seats likely to be available by the end of 2022, raising the prospect of a wave of movement for 2023.

But several early deals have somewhat killed the market, which already appears to be fading out after the initial hype and expectation that Formula One is set for one of the busiest and most interesting years in recent times.

How is the drivers market shaping up 2023?

Red Bull was key to the 2023 drivers’ market, but Sergio Perez’s impressive form at the start of 2022 saw him rewarded with a new two-year contract after winning the Monaco Grand Prix. The lucrative deal for teammate Max Verstappen has locked him in until at least 2028.

A month before Perez secured his future, Carlos Sainz signed a new two-year contract, meaning his contract is for as long as fellow Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc, who drafted a five-year contract ahead of the 2020 season.

Meanwhile, at Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton’s current contract covers the 2022 and 2023 seasons, while George Russell joined on a long-term deal and is considered the team’s future.

McLaren has star driver Lando Norris tied to a new multi-year contract until 2025, but there have been doubts about teammate Daniel Ricciardo’s position given his struggle to adapt.

Ricciardo is under contract until 2023, but Zac Brown’s recent admission of “the mechanics” in the deal could lead to an early break that has raised eyebrows. For now at least, McLaren looks keen to continue with Ricciardo next season.

There is still uncertainty over the future of Formula One veterans Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. Both contracts expired at the end of the season, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the multiple world champions extend their careers.

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Martin Brundle (GBR) Sky Sports Commentator with George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 on the grid.  Formula 1 world

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Their teammates are also set to stay. Esteban Ocon is contracted to Alpine through 2024, while Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin seat is relatively safe for the foreseeable future given his father owns the team.

Despite speculation surrounding Pierre Gasly’s F1 future after Perez’s new deal for Red Bull was announced, team boss Franz Tost confirmed in Canada that it was “100% confirmed” that the Frenchman will drive the AlphaTauri again in 2023.

After showing signs of the consistency he missed in his rookie campaign, Yuki Tsunoda is expected to continue into a third season in the AlphaTauri with the Red Bull Formula 2 championship not set ablaze.

Piastri expected to make his Formula One debut

The most interesting development is one flanked by reigning F2 champion and current Alpine test and reserve driver Oscar Piastre.

After losing a seat this year, Alpine expects the 21-year-old Australian to be racing in F1 next season after conducting a series of recent private tests.

Piastre is one of the brightest young talents after winning a treble of the Junior Championships (Formula Renault Eurocup, F3 and F2) between 2019 and 2021.

Speaking on Saturday at the Canadian Grand Prix, Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer answered simply “yes” when asked if he thought Piastri would race in Formula 1 in 2023.

Pressing the topic, he added, “We don’t talk about the details of our contracts with drivers, and that sometimes doesn’t happen. But when I say yes, that’s the plan.”

Piastre is said to be close to completing Williams’ leadership next year for partner Alex Albon. It is believed to be a loan deal from Alpine, similar to what happened when Red Bull loaned Carlos Sainz to Renault at the end of 2017 and 2018.

There were rumors of a potential mid-season turnaround that would have seen Piastri replace Nicholas Latifi from the upcoming British Grand Prix, but Williams chief Joost Capito has denied such talk.

“We don’t have any other plans, they both have contracts for this season and our plan is to make it happen,” said Capito in Canada.

“We are convinced that Nikki will find confidence in the car during the season and his results will be even better.”

However, Capito admitted that Piastre is “on the list” of drivers that Williams is considering staging for 2023.

Alfa Romeo has one driver on contract for 2023 in the form of Valtteri Bottas, who arrived on a multi-year deal following his departure from Mercedes.

The second seat is likely to be between F1 rookie Guanyu Zhou and F2 title contender Theo Pourchaire, an exciting member of the Sauber Junior Academy who looks set to be destined for F1 in the near future.

Zhou’s quick adaptation to F1 has impressed Alfa Romeo, while his presence on the grid is expected to help both the sport and his team break into the Chinese market.

With the Chinese Grand Prix set to return to the calendar in 2023, there are plenty of benefits to keeping Chu for at least one more season, not least the financial support it brings.

And if he continues with his impressive performances, he will make the decision easier for Alfa Romeo.

At Haas, Kevin Magnussen has agreed a long-term deal as part of his surprise return to F1, but Mick Schumacher’s future is less certain. The German is under pressure to match Magnussen and break his expensive crash habit.

After a miserable start to life in Formula E, Antonio Giovinazzi has been touted as a potential replacement for Haas next season if Schumacher fails to turn things around.

And what about the future?

Hamilton will be at the heart of the 2024 driver market, and any decision he makes about his future is likely to have huge repercussions for the grid.

The future of the seven-time world champion will surely depend on Mercedes’ competitiveness in 2023 and whether the world champions can return to winning ways after their dramatic downfall.

Should Hamilton retire, that would leave a huge hole in Mercedes for 2024.

Who would Mercedes look to to replace Hamilton? Will they try to get Norris away from McLaren, or perhaps give Gasly the chance to fly into Red Bull’s nest at the end?

Vacancies may open later in the likes of McLaren, Alpine and Aston Martin, which could cause a ripple effect in the driver market.

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has made it clear that the team would prefer to continue the entire British duo between Hamilton and Russell for as long as possible.

“Shall we start talking? [about] 2024 contracts in June 2022? No, we’re in a happy place with Louis. “There is no doubt that we are starting the season and the next in a good place,” said Wolff in Azerbaijan.

“It’s too early to discuss 2024. But having said that, I can’t wish for a better pairing for the drivers.”

It would be great to see how things develop over the next 12 months.

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