RACING

Silly F1 season – Who’s in the frame for the last five spots?

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Sam room

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The F1 driver transfer market has been surprisingly busy this season and with five seats remaining for next year, who will race in 2023?

Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari are the only teams to confirm they will have unchanged rosters, while McLaren and Aston Martin have their pairings set in stone.

For the other five teams – Alpine, AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo, Williams and Haas – the game of musical chairs continues.

But who are the drivers vying for each seat?

Alpha Tauri

With news that Colton Herta’s hoped-for move is now canceledthere is only one free seat with the Faenza-based team as Pierre Gasly has an agreement in place that keeps him with the team for 2023.

However, Gasly could still move to Alpine as it is now known that Nyck de Vries held talks with Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko.

His teammate Yuki Tsunoda is out of contract at the end of the year and after a difficult second season there is no guarantee he will continue.

But with junior driver Liam Lawson only seventh in the F2 standings, he is unlikely to take the plunge, securing Tsunoda his seat. Expect an announcement at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Alpine

Fernando Alonso’s move to Aston Martin and Oscar Piastri’s defection to McLaren unexpectedly opened up training with Alpine.

Confirmation that AlphaTauri had ended its pursuit of Herta apparently ruled out the previous favorite for the Gasly seat until De Vries’ recent chat with Marko. The Dutchman, however, is also in contention for this seat

Daniel Ricciardo knows the team well after a previous two-year stint at Renault and that could work in his favour.

Mick Schumacher has also been linked as the Haas driver is out of contract at the end of the year. Given his father’s history with the Enstone-based team, this could be an interesting proposition.

Jack Doohan is next in the academy after Piastri, but it would be a shock if he were immediately promoted.

williams

De Vries is seen as Williams’ number one target after their run in the points at the recent Italian Grand Prix, but the Grove-based team now face intense competition from AlphaTauri and Alpine .

Nicholas Latifi will hope to be retained, but even the Canadian must know that his time in F1 is coming to an end after being completely outclassed by Alex Albon throughout the year. The loss to De Vries was surely the final nail in his coffin.

The only factor that could save Latifi’s F1 career is his substantial financial backing.

Ricciardo is likely a second choice for the team, but the Australian has indicated he would be happier watching from the sidelines rather than running at the back of the pack.

Logan Sargeant is the outside bet. The American is third in the F2 standings and given the growing popularity of F1 in the US it would be a popular move, but it’s more likely for the future.

Haas

Mick Schumacher looks set to leave Haas despite apparently doing nothing wrong and outscoring teammate Kevin Magnussen 10-4 in races this season.

Ricciardo reportedly spoke to team principal Guenther Steiner during the drive, but it was former team-mate Nico Hülkenberg who emerged as the favourite.

The German was the super-sub during the Covid pandemic but last raced full-time in F1 in 2019. For the past two years he has been Aston Martin’s reserve driver, succeeding the Covid -hit Sebastian Vettel in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Antonio Giovinazzi has already free practiced for Haas and will do so again at the United States Grand Prix, but appears behind Hulkenberg in this battle.

Alfa Romeo

There are only two candidates for the seat of Alfa Romeo.

Zhou Guanyu had a strong rookie season after leaving the Renault Academy to join the team. After scoring points on his debut, he regularly challenged the top 10 only for his reliability which hampered his progress.

The young Sauber driver Théo Pourchaire is the only other candidate. The Frenchman is second in the F2 standings and team principal Fred Vasseur is a fan.

Undoubtedly, Pourchaire deserves a seat, but it would be incredibly hard on Zhou if he lost his training.

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