While F1 resumed last week with the Belgian Grand Prix, the situation behind the scenes continues to be turbulent, with the 2023 line-up not yet complete. One of the keys to the market is now Mick Schumacher’s situation at Haas F1.
The German driver is under contract with the American team, but also with Ferrari, since he is part of the Ferrari Driver Academy. But the latest rumors point to a possible break with the FDA (the contract ends at the end of the year), and therefore with Haas F1.
Last week, Schumacher confirmed to us that he was awaiting information on his future. His name was then mentioned on the side of Alpine F1, where he could replace Fernando Alonso, a place that Oscar Piastri did not want to take.
If the collaboration with the Ferrari Driver Academy ends, the 2020 F2 champion would not have many options, with Williams F1 as a possibility. The Alpine track has cooled slightly for him (see below), and the remaining places are limited.
However, Haas should also find a replacement for him, and it is believed that Günther Steiner has made contact with Daniel Ricciardo. More pragmatically, Antonio Giovinazzi is also in the market, and the Italian will try out with Haas later this season. Two EL1 sessions which are certainly not innocent, at a time when Haas is thinking about the seat accompanying Kevin Magnussen.
Alpine F1 and McLaren, crossed destinies
Last week, Mick Schumacher’s name seemed to be the hottest track for Alpine F1, but a surprise guest has topped the list since this weekend. Indeed, it is now Pierre Gasly who would hold the rope in the French team to ride alongside Esteban Ocon next year.
For financial compensation, Helmut Marko has confirmed that Red Bull would agree to let the Frenchman go, who is under contract with AlphaTauri until the end of 2023. Without real opportunities within Red Bull, Gasly could bounce back at Alpine.
He would then find a factory steering wheel, and the possibility of making a long-term commitment to a very interesting project, with high development potential. There remain the alleged conflicts with Esteban Ocon, dating from the days of karting and promotional formulas, but the two Normans have buried the hatchet, as confirmed by Ocon.
Schumacher remains an option, such as a return of Daniel Ricciardo, but the latter would arrive with a lot of unknowns, on which Alpine does not seem to want to bet.
Finally, according to the decision of the CRB, the contract recognition office, Oscar Piastri could be a candidate, but we feel in the statements of Otmar Szafnauer that the team wants above all to use the decision for a possible financial leverage, rather only to repatriate the Australian to its ranks.
What about the rest of the F1 teams?
The situation of the other Formula 1 teams is a little clearer, even clear for some of them. At Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes F1, the driver duos will not move. It will be respectively Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, as well as Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, who will continue to defend the colors of the three top teams.
At Aston Martin F1, the duo is also known as Fernando Alonso will join Lance Stroll, in a transfer which triggered this particularly turbulent ‘silly season’. Both pilots seem to have a multi-year contract.
At Alfa Romeo, Valtteri Bottas will be driving the future C43, and the identity of his teammate is not yet known. Nevertheless, Guanyu Zhou seems to hold the rope, Frédéric Vasseur not counting on a return of Antonio Giovinazzi, and not seeming decided to promote Théo Pourchaire.
AlphaTauri will negotiate with the FIA for Herta
The situation was rather clear at AlphaTauri, but the negotiations taking place could cause changes within the Faenza team. The pillar that is Pierre Gasly could leave, which would force Franz Tost to find a replacement for him. Yuki Tsunoda should continue within the team, even if his see-saw performances sometimes make his leaders think.
At his side, if Gasly leaves, it is Colton Herta that Red Bull would like to bring to F1, to benefit from the aura of an American driver. The problem for someone who drives in IndyCar is obtaining the Superlicense, since he currently lacks eight points, and his ranking would only offer him one, i.e. 33 out of the 40 necessary to obtain this license to drive at highest level.
AlphaTauri would have several solutions for Herta to have a chance, and which would be based in the first place on the fact that the FIA takes into account its 2018 season in Indy Lights. He had finished second and would therefore score the necessary points, since four seasons are taken into account, but there were only eight drivers entered full time.
The FIA therefore does not count this result, considering that the opposition was not strong enough. If this were the case, then Herta would have to be driving in F1 this year to score additional points. One can imagine that at Red Bull, starting Herta at home in Austin would have some appeal, and it would give him enough points to get his Superlicence next year.
Finally, at Williams F1, Alex Albon signed for many years, and he is now a 100% Williams driver. At his side, Nicholas Latifi has a slim chance of continuing, even if his recent performances do not plead in his favor.
Logan Sargeant is a potential candidate based on his F2 results at the end of the season, while the names of Schumacher and Ricciardo have also been mooted at Grove. Serious candidates who should have priority on the track leading to an extension of Latifi.