Four-time Formula One world champions Sebastian Vettel announced that he will hang up his boots at the end of the season with an emotional speech in a heartfelt video that broke the internet.
The decision taken by the German driver has triggered a knock-on effect which has resulted in multiple big-name changes to the F1 grid ahead of the 2023 season.
While frontrunners Red Bull have their driver contracts sorted for the foreseeable future, teams in need of a well-known name will scramble to beat other constructors to the signings of their preferred drivers to bolster their ambitions ahead of yet another exciting season on the fast lane.
Formula One Grid 2023:
Current Drivers: Max Verstappen; Sergio Perez
Drivers for the year 2023: Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez
This year’s championship leaders Red Bull have been riding strong on the shoulders of the reigning champion Max Verstappen, who is perched firmly on the very top of the driver’s standings.
His teammate, the universally-adored Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez, has performed consistently well to consolidate the third position on the leaderboard as it stands.
To the delight of the Austrian team, both drivers will retain their spots in the upcoming season. While Verstappen’s lucrative deal with the manufacturer runs till the end of the year 2028, Perez’s new extension guarantees him a place on the team till the end of the 2024 season.
Current Drivers: Charles Leclerc; Carlos Sainz
Drivers for the year 2023: Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz
Ferrari got off to an amazing start to the season but their title charge has tapered off as race weeks went by. Reliability issues and a plethora of strategic decisions that backfired let Charles Leclerc down as he slipped from the top spot that he occupied on the standings a couple of weeks into the season.
Carlos Sainz, who took his first formula one race win this season, has had a season filled with highs and lows as he was done in at times by irregularities with the car that resulted in him coming away with multiple DNF results this year.
However, both drivers are under contract with the legendary Italian outfit until the end of the 2024 season and the prancing horse unit will look to rectify the errors of their way to reclaim the throne which was once spiritually their own.
Current Drivers: Lewis Hamilton; George Russell
Drivers for the 2023 season: Lewis Hamilton, George Russell
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has had to endure a tumultuous season at the cockpit of the British manufacturer’s car as issues with porpoising plagued Mercedes throughout the campaign.
George Russell has been consistent with his performances this season as demonstrated by his standing on the table, as he occupies the fourth position and has fared better than the legendary Brit teammate this season statistically.
Both racers will hold on to their positions at Mercedes for the upcoming season with Hamilton, looking for the elusive eighth title, tied down with a contract until at least the end of the next season, while Russell’s contract will see him with the silver arrows through 2024.
Current Drivers: Fernando Alonso; Estaban Ocon
Drovers for the 2023 season: Estaban Ocon, TBC
Veteran racer Fernando Alonso turned heads with the announcement that he will be plying his trade in the colours of Aston Martin in the upcoming season as he is set to take the place of the outgoing Vettel.
Ocon’s contractual agreement with the French outfit keeps him at Alpine till the end of the 2024 season, as the constructor looks to fill the void left by the Spaniard.
The team got itself stuck in a sticky situation as they announced that their reserve driver Oscar Piastri will take the place of Alonso for the upcoming season only for the Australian native to refute the announcement saying he had not signed a contract and does not intend to drive for the team next year.
If sources are to be believed, Piastri is set to take the pace of fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren, after the 2021 Monza winner decided to part ways with the British automotive manufacturer following a buyout.
ALSO READ| McLaren and Daniel Ricciardo to Part Ways Ahead of 2023 Season After Buyout Agreement
Current Drivers: Daniel Ricciardo; Lando Norris
Drivers for the 2023 season: Lando Norris, TBC
Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo, who had a contract with the British manufacturer through 2023, will not be part of the McLaren Formula One team after agreeing to a buyout estimated to be between the range of 15 million and 20 million euros.
Piecing the puzzle together, Piastri’s move to McLaren makes all the more sense after Ricciardo’s announcement. With the buyout agreement between the concerned parties agreed upon, Piastri’s move to McLaren seems like all but a formality now.
Lando Norris put pen to paper on a contractual agreement that will see him represent the British constructor through the year 2025 at the least.
Current Drivers: Valterri Bottas; Zhou Guanyu
Drivers for the 2023 season: Valterri Bottas, TBC
Valterri Bottas’ first year at Alfa Romeo seems to be a happy affair and as things stand, all evidence point to the Finnish driver retaining his seat with the Italian outfit.
Zhou Guanyu, currently placed 17th in his first F1 season, has performed better than his standing would lead one to believe. He isn’t tied to Alfa Romeo for the upcoming 2023 season as of yet but things seem optimistic and the Chinese driver is expected to remain with his current team at the beginning of the following campaign too.
Current Drivers: Kevin Magnussen; Mick Schumacher
Drivers for the 2023 season: Kevin Magnussen, TBC
Kevin Magnussen signed for Haas racing at the eleventh hour heading into the ongoing season after complications involving Russia’s war on Ukraine sealed Nikita Mazepin’s fate as Russian athletes were banished to the sidelines.
The Dane who sits eleventh on the rankings at the moment has a contract with the American unit through the 2023 campaign.
Mick Schumacher, son of the legendary Michael Schumacher, found his feet after a slow start to the season. However, the 23-year-old German does not have a contract with Haa racing for the upcoming season and the jury is still out on the decision to hand him an extension.
Things got a tad bit more complicated as Aston Martin replaced fellow German and mentor Vettel with Alonso, instead of handing his seat to Mick, who was Vettels’ choice of replacement.
Aston Martin reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg and Formula E driver Antonio Giovinazzi, who is all set to commandeer a Haas vehicle at an upcoming free practice in Monza were also touted for a seat in the 2023 campaign.
But, with the latest development that comes along with Ricciardo’s exit from McLaren, the Australian might well be handed the seat ahead of the above-mentioned trio.
Current Drivers: Pierre Gasly; Yuki Tsunoda
Drivers for the 2023 season: Pierre Gasly, TBC
A strong showing in the 2021 season of the championships had a lot of traction coming Pierre Gasly’s way as he was in line for a seat at Red Bull. But, a slow start to this year’s campaign dashed his chances for a spot alongside Max Verstappen as Sergio Perez impressed with his performances and attitude to earn the coveted place.
Gasly, however, is signed to remain with Alpha Tauri, Red Bull’s sister team through the 2023 season.
Yuki Tsunoda, who is placed 16th on the board currently, does not have a contract for the upcoming season. Word on the street though is that the Japanese racer could hold on to his seat alongside Gasly if he manages to find a way to avoid crashes and find consistency.
Current Drivers: Sebastian Vettel; Lance Stroll
Drivers for the 2023 season: Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll
Sebastian Vettel’s shock retirement announcement resulted in a merry-go-round of changes as ambitious and eligible drivers queued up to capitalise on the inexplicable vacuum created by the German’s departure from the sport.
The English brand jumped on the first opportunity to bring in veteran race Alonso as they struck a multi-year deal. The manner in which the transfer of the renowned driver from Oviedo was handled did not exactly scream professionalism, but Aston Martin have acquired the services of one of the most naturally talented and experienced drivers in the history of the sport.
Lance Stroll, son of team owner Lawrence Stroll, has a contract with the British manufacturer until the end of the year 2023.
Current Drivers: Alex Albon; Nicholas Latifi
Drivers for the 2023 season: Alex Albon, TBC
Coming in at 19th and 20th of the current standings, Williams’ drivers have had a sub-optimal season and will look to certainly improve on their performance before the end of the season.
Alex Albon has a multi-year deal with the UK-based team that ensures his position at the driver’s seat of the automobile in the 2023 season, but, teammate Nicholas Latifi is out of contract at the end of the ongoing 2022 season and there are few signs if any, that he will retain his seat for the following season.
A string of poor performances and crashes cast doubt over his future with the team as Formula E champion Nyck de Vries, who commandeered the Williams automobile during free practice in Spain, lies in wait for a call up to the big leagues.
American Formula 2 racer Logan Sergeant is another name in the mix to replace Latifi as Williams hope for a better showing in the forthcoming championship season.
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