Who will be left without an F1 drive when the final places are taken for 2023?

2023 F1 season

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Formula 1’s driver line-up for 2023 moved another step closer to completion today, as AlphaTauri confirmed Yuki Tsunoda will remain at the team for a third year.

The final spaces on next year’s grid are filling up quickly. With McLaren’s decision to appoint newcomer Oscar Piastri, at least one of this year’s current crop will be let without a seat next year.

But there could be more than one left without a seat when the music stops. The future of this trio of drivers is uncertain.

Mick Schumacher

Having been promoted into F1 through the Ferrari Driver Academy last year, Mick Schumacher’s place at Haas was thrown into question when reports claimed he will not retain Ferrari’s backing next year.

Schumacher had a rough start to his second year at Haas. He easily had the beating of fellow rookie Nikita Mazepin last year, but the experienced Kevin Magnussen has proved a much tougher benchmark and Schumacher had a pair of heavy and expensive crashes early this season in Jeddah and Monaco.

Mick Schumacher, Haas, Hungaroring, 2022
Sixth in Austria is Schumacher’s best result so far
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said earlier this month at Zandvoort that he wanted to see a clear improvement from Schumacher this year. He plans discussions with Haas over the driver’s future.

“As we said at the start of the season it’s important for Mick this season to improve,” said Binotto. “We will in a few races sit down with him, make a balance of the season, and we’ll do that as well together with Haas and decide for his best future.”

However Ferrari’s decision to put Antonio Giovinazzi in the Haas for two practice sessions has to be taken as a sign they are considering recalling the driver who lost his previous F1 drive at Alfa Romeo at the end of last year. With Alfa Romeo’s line-up unlikely to change – Valtteri Bottas has a long-term deal and Zhou Guanyu is expected to earn a second season – Schumacher’s best chance of remaining on the grid appears to be his current address.

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner insists Schumacher is “still in the running” to stay at the team next year. He pointed out the 23-year-old has raised his game since his rough start to the season. “Mick did a very good job in Canada, Austria and Silverstone, and since then the car was not at par.”

But the team hasn’t re-signed Schumacher “because we want to wait to see if that is the best decision,” said Steiner. “He’s in the same position as all the other drivers that are on the market. We just want to try to make the best decision for the team’s future.”

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Daniel Ricciardo

It goes without saying that Ricciardo’s career direction has not gone to plan since he walked out of Red Bull in 2018. He decided to move on from Renault after two seasons, throwing his lot in with McLaren, but somehow never clicked with the Woking team’s cars and finds himself cast out a year before his contract was due to end.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Paul Ricard, 2022
Ricciardo hasn’t scored a point since the French Grand Prix
His options for 2023 are limited, and his chances of finding a halfway competitive drive rest not only on finding a team with an opening, but one that is willing to hire him. That list shrinks rapidly once the big three teams plus McLaren are excluded.

Alpine could have been a possibility, despite the manner in which he left the team formerly known as Renault in 2020, as the top management having changed in the last year. However it appears Red Bull are preparing to release Pierre Gasly from his contract at their second team AlphaTauri in order to advance his career elsewhere. Their announcement of Tsunoda’s new deal today made no mention of Gasly’s existing 2023 deal.

Ricciardo’s options may therefore be to join a lower-order team for 2023 or take a sabbatical and aim to return to the grid in 2024 in a more competitive car. He was caught off-mic at Zandvoort suggesting the latter scenario to Sergio Perez.

After chopping and changing between teams over the last four years, Ricciardo is prepared to be patient when it comes to deciding his next move. “From 2017, every two years I’ve been now with a different team from that period onwards,” he acknowledged. “So I don’t want to just sign something and then be like ‘oh wait, now something else is there for ’24’.

“So it’s probably not as simple as just getting somewhere on the grid next year. That’s where it could go probably many different directions and that’s where I’m like, I don’t think anything needs like an immediate decision.”

However he isn’t ruling out the possibility of throwing his weight into a new long-term commitment to a team. “I still definitely have the ability to love a project,” he said. “Of course, if it’s like this kind of longer project or this one where are you going to win tomorrow, I’m going to go for the quick wins. But they are things I will definitely give some thought to.

“I don’t want to be too stubborn and or short-sighted and like ‘oh, no, I’m not interested in that’. I will give everything respect and thought.”

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Nicholas Latifi

It’s no secret that the backing Nicholas Latifi brought to Williams was a key factor in the team’s decision to promote him to F1 two years ago. The question was whether he could use that opportunity to make a case for staying in F1 long-term.

Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022
Latifi’s third season hasn’t gone well
That wasn’t easy to do in his two years up against future Mercedes star George Russell, but Latifi took a pair of points finishes last year which bolstered his cause.

However he has struggled to build on that it 2022. It didn’t help matters that he ended the previous season a target of online vitriol due to his innocent role in the farcical conclusion to last year’s world championship. But he followed up that Yas Marina crash with other incidents at the beginning of the season as he struggled to gain confidence in Williams’ FW44.

While new team mate Alexander Albon was in the points as early as round three, Latifi remains the only full-time driver yet to score this year. Speaking ahead of the Dutch round, team CEO Jost Capito wouldn’t be drawn on whether he would commit to Latifi for another year.

“He has to show his potential,” said Captio. “I believe he has the potential. What he’s shown from Silverstone and Hungary, it was great there.”

If Williams were looking for potential, they will have found it not in Latifi but the driver who appeared alongside him as a substitute at Monza. Nyck de Vries dazzled the team with a points finish on his debut. Latifi made a tense appearance before the media after qualifying when he was quizzed about being out-qualified by the newcomer.

De Vries therefore looks like the favourite for the seat alongside Albon next year. Latifi’s hopes of holding onto his seat therefore rest on Red Bull snapping De Vries up for AlphaTauri, Ricciardo holding out for a more competitive car and Williams opting not to promote their junior driver Logan Sargeant who is starring as a rookie in Formula 2.

View the current list of 2023 F1 drivers and teams

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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40 comments on “Who will be left without an F1 drive when the final places are taken for 2023?”

  1. My expectations:
    ZHO is clear-cut
    GAS stays put as per June confirmation
    Alpine – MSC/DEV
    Haas – GIO
    Williams – DEV/MSC

    1. This is my guess:
      ZHO will stay
      GAS to Alpine
      DEV to AT
      MSC will stay(brings more attention and pace is similar to GIO)
      RIC to Williams(Merc Reserve as they compare with ALB for future HAM retirement)

    2. ZHO stay at AR
      GAS to Alpine
      DEV to Williams
      MSC stay at Haas
      RIC is out
      LAW to AT

    3. My expectations:
      Jere will be the first to post a comment. Always

      1. @Simon Only sometimes & depends solely on how soon I click for an article after one gets published, which is purely about coincidence.

  2. I think it’s most likely Gasly will go to Alpine. Or you would have thought that AT may have made it clear he was staying with them.

    I wonder, do Alpine have a reserve driver for 2023? If not then I could see Ricciardo going there, taking a year-out but still being available. It’s probably better to be a reserve in a good mid-field team rather than somewhere like Williams or Haas.

    The real question then is who would replace Gasly at AT? Would they really bring in someone who has not been a member of the their young driver programme? Mind you the option of choosing DeVries seems better than some of the others they have available.

    1. @phil-f1-21 It wasn’t a coincidence that RBR was lobbying for Herta to get Superlicense. Should that have been granted, I am 100% sure that Gasly would have been announced from Alpine for 2023. Let’s not forget also that Herta was about to do a test for Alpine also, clear indication that these two teams are kind of working, or at least were working, together in the background for these pilots.

      In my opinion and if I were at RBR, I’d be picking Scott McLaughlin for a kind of sure bet for that AT seat. He doesn’t fit the “American driver” project, that everybody seems to be desperate for, but I’d give him a chance until Herta or even David Malukas, my next, kind of sure, bet, get their Superlicense for F1.

      1. Wasn’t there a suggestion that Red Bull’s lobbying for Herta might really have been about distracting the press away from the talks between themselves and Porsche collapsing, and they might not have been that invested in Herta to begin with?

        1. There is now :P

    2. @phil-f1-21 They made his stay clear in June.
      Official confirmation means a driver will drive for a given team unless something changes & so far, nothing has changed, so he’s still supposed to stay put for next season.

    3. There’s no telling where Williams (or Haas, or Alpine etc.) could be next year. Jenson Button seemed to suggest that they have big plans for next year, and I honestly can’t imagine a team with that much success staying at the bottom forever. I think Ricciardo at Williams could be mutually beneficial. I say this as a Williams fan and a non-Ricciardo fan.

    4. Drugovich. He beat RBR academy drivers and its said he has a release clause if he gets a main seat.

  3. There’s only so much time in one’s life, and worrying about some of the slower drivers in F1 hardly qualifies as a proper use for any of it.

    1. Says the guy who refreshes this site to post only snark and criticisms LOL

      1. 100% correct! 😂

  4. I just can’t see where Daniel Ricciardo fits. Alpine don’t seem keen, which is understandable, as he does represent a big risk at a likely heavy price. Alpha Tauri is surely not worth revisiting having already been through the Red Bull process. Haas and Williams are similar in that he’d be fighting for the shallow end of the points, at best. All that said, if he doesn’t stay in for 2023, I can’t personally see him returning later down the line. He’s evidently a very good driver with a very good career behind him, but personally I wouldn’t take the risk on him after the last few years. If he wasn’t so (subjectively) likeable, I don’t think there’d be much of this clamour for him to get a seat.

    Mick Schumacher is an interesting case. He seems to have started to cut out the eye-catching mistakes and is increasingly on or exceeding Kevin Magnussen’s pace, who looks increasingly like the bigger liability in terms of race-damaging mistakes. I think he’s just about worth continuing with as he has shown flashes of being impressive and the alternatives aren’t particularly exciting. Hulkenberg and Giovinazzi are fairly uninspiring choices and Schumacher doesn’t seem to be the main problem for the team. With a better car, he can deliver good points, even if I don’t see him as a future multiple race winner or champion.

    As for Nicholas Latifi, it’s clear that his time is (or should be) coming to an end. de Vries really hammered the nails in with his Monza performance. Whether it is de Vries, Ricciardo, Schumacher (which I think is unlikely) or Sargeant; they all represent a far, far better option than Latifi.

    1. Latifi brings money, ricciardo costs quite a bit, I doubt this year’s ricciardo is better than latifi, cost included.

      1. I don’t think Danny is in a great position as far as salary demands, plus he’s still on the Mclaren bank roll for next year. He’ll get by.

        1. @dot_com Still on Mclaren’s bankroll for next year?
          This isn’t the impression I’ve got, given he already got/will get compensated for contract termination, although Kimi got paid by Ferrari in 2010 despite not driving for them, so possible.

  5. I will be left without an F1 drive, again.
    Another team (not necessarily the best-managed one) will fall for the Schumacher fairytale, it’s not looking good for Ricciardo, and I’d like to think we’ve seen enough of Latifi.

  6. Lets be honest, they’ve all had a fair crack at F1 and none have proven anything more than average at best (Rics early career no longer relevant). Time for them all to move on and see if other drivers can do better.

  7. Mick is an interesting one as every year he seems to learn and get better during the season, so it’s hard to say where his ceiling may be especially if he was moved to a better team with a better teammate.
    Andets not forget rumors that Hulk is in the picture for a seat next year.

    1. especially if he was moved to a better team with a better teammate.

      You mean “car” rather than “team and teammate”, right?
      Allegedly his current teammate has been as helpful with data and advice as anyone, and simply being on a team with a star driver is more likely to put pressure on him (which so far has made him more error-prone rather than less) than provide somebody to learn from. Stars aren’t necessarily good mentors. The team also seem to have picked up some good engineers lately. And they seem to be more patient with their drivers than the top teams. All in all I don’t think he could learn more in another team or with a different teammate.
      He needs a better car than the current Haas, though. So does Haas and his teammate, by the way. Since Silverstone both drivers have performed better than the car, despite poor results. The car need to be solid in order to learn – and it just is not.

  8. I think Ric’s best hopes is joining another series and showing he still has it by winning a championship or two. Then aim for Ferrari or Merc when they next have an seat need filling.

  9. “He’s a wonderful driver with a lot of potential and we’re still keeping an eye on him, along with some others” or words to the same effect basically all mean the same: If they really were wonderful drivers with lots of potential, they would not have been in this situation in the first place. They would have secured a seat for the coming seasons a long time ago already, with a known amount of money they generate for a team. Disappointment in what they generate is exactly what gets them in this situation. And yes, they all generate/bring money, either personally, through sponsors, through marketing value or through their race results. And they all destroy money too, at crash time. Some are better at that than others.
    Two of them have not shown any potential at all, ever, and for the third one, past results are no guarantee for the future. The lacklustre way he’s been driving around these last years however, does say something about what can be expected, and it’s not a fighting spirit like Zanardi’s.
    It’s a business decision, nothing else. And I hope all three of them go. Let’s give some new people a chance.
    Would have liked to see Herta being given a chance, but there’s a sleeping policeman on the road there, named FIA.

    1. Don’t think this is fair towards schumacher, seeing as he caught up with magnussen in performance.

      1. Magnussen performance hasn’t been special lately with too many mistakes.

      2. It is fair. Lookup Mick Schumacher’s achievements in motorsports so far, there’s zero there to indicate he has any potential at all, let alone extraordinary potential. Dump the guy.
        To be clear, this -like all business in F1- has nothing to do with wether they have a broad smile, are likeable, stand up for a good cause or whatever.

        1. Dump him in favour of whom? Giovinazzi? Huelkenberg?

          1. @wsrgo: In favor of someone who has not had a chance yet. Thanks to the FIA’s ‘own people first’ superlicence system though, they can probably come from F2 only. But even in F2 there’s those that have a decent chance of doing better.

  10. Isn’t it sad that we’re NOT saying that Lance Stroll should also be on the chopping block? Hands up those who would rather see Stroll in F1 over RIC?

    1. It is indeed.

    2. To be honest, Stroll cops a lot of flack, but I’m not sure that it’s all deserved. He is nowhere near as bad as Latifi and Tsunoda (whose retention by AT is mind boggling), and he does have some very stand out drives in the wet.

      Personally, Ricciardo has lost whatever it was he had back in 2014-2016, and he’s made Alonso-level career mistakes along the way. The difference is, Alonso is still quick in whatever he’s driving.

    3. No Lance, no daddy. No daddy, no AM.

      Sponsors (as team-owners or as backers through commercials) are a necessary evil in most sports in general and F1 in particular. Without them you’d have to pay a fortune for f1tv.com or the collective purse for driver salaries would be much smaller – reducing the field or being less attractive for the best drivers – and development costs would need to be reduced further. Eventually Indycar or Nascar would take over as the pinnacle of motor sport. We need to live with the pay drivers.

      Besides Young Stroll does not seem to ruin anything for the “real” drivers, so what’s the harm?

  11. Apart from his Monaco crash Ric usually has a pretty good record when it comes to not damaging machinery. This might make him a cheaper option than the other 2?

    Also, in the Riccardo picture, is the guy in the background using Excel to do analysis??

    1. Constantijn Blondel
      23rd September 2022, 10:29

      It looks like it runs in the browser so I think it’s Google Sheets :D

      1. Could be Excel Online

    2. Excel is pretty good at analysis. Don’t let the coding supremacists convince you otherwise.

    3. Recently listened to a podcast with an ex-RB performance engineer who says he used Excel to calculate/manage fuel load for quali sessions ;-)

  12. On the basis that Riccardo was leaving RBR, he obviously should have stayed at Renault where did rather well seeing off the Hulk and then Ocon.

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