Pierre Gasly testing for Alpine in Abu Dhabi

2023 F1 Grid Finally Settled

by Neal Venter

The silly season has been in full swing ever since Sebastian Vettel announced his shock retirement from Formula 1 just before the Hungarian Grand Prix in July. Several drivers on the grid were looking to swap places and make moves in their careers. As a result, we’ve had a major shake-up in the 2023 grid, with some new drivers joining the grid, and some familiar faces joining previous teams. Now that the dust has finally settled up and down the grid, let’s take a look at each driver that has new colours.

Fernando Alonso – Aston Martin 

The motorsport world didn’t even have time to recover from the news that four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel was retiring before it was announced that Fernando Alonso would be replacing him. Aston Martin and Alonso wasted no time, as the contract seemed to be signed, sealed, and delivered by the Monday following the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Spaniard also wasted no time settling in at his new team when he packed his bags and headed over to the Silverstone-based team’s hospitality center shortly after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix had ended.

Alonso spent some time familiarising himself with the AMR22 on Monday’s tyre test. The Aston Martin was sent out onto the track with no branding as Alonso was still under contract from Alpine, but this could also mean that the Spaniard is bringing some big sponsors onboard with him. Following 97 laps around the Yas Marina circuit, Alonso ended up in 12th fastest before handing the reins over to Lance Stroll.

Oscar Piastri – McLaren

Just as we all thought that silly season could not be any more dramatic, Oscar Piastri was announced as Alonso’s replacement at Alpine. This news did not come as much of a surprise to anyone because the 2021 F2 Champion was the Alpine reserve driver at the time. However, following a long silence from the Piastri camp, suspicions began to arise. 

Piastri then took to social media to confirm that Alpine had put out the announcement without his consent and that he was, in fact, not going to be driving for the French team in 2023. Communications from both sides then went silent as both parties tried to resolve the issue.

It was later revealed that Piastri had agreed to take the McLaren seat in 2023, but the two teams would have to fight it out for the driver in court. The F1 Contract Recognition Board found that McLaren’s contract with Piastri was valid, and the Australian would be allowed to race for the British team in 2023 and 2024.

Pierre Gasly – Alpine

Piastri’s shock move to McLaren left Alpine without a driver for the 2023 season. The team insisted that they had a plan and that they had several options for who would line up alongside Esteban Ocon. Rumours were spreading that Daniel Ricciardo would get the seat, as he was now without a drive for 2023.

However, it was Frenchman Pierre Gasly who got the Alpine seat in early October. Gasly had been a faithful Alpha Tauri team member for several years, even serving a short stint in the senior Red Bull team. However, it became clear that Gasly’s chances of returning to the senior team were slim.

Moving to Alpine, Gasly is set to complete an all-French line up alongside Esteban Ocon on the French team. It’s the first time that we’ll see Gasly away from Red Bull colours in Formula 1, and it could be his breakthrough as it was for Carlos Sainz.

Nyck De Vries – Alpha Tauri

With Gasly departing from Alpha Tauri, Nyck De Vries finally got his shot at a full time Formula 1 seat. The 2019 F2 Champion missed his shot at Formula 1 and was recruited to race for Mercedes in Formula E, where he also won the championship in the 2020/2021 season.

The Dutchman is now 28 years old, but he’s already impressed in the world of Formula 1. He made his official debut in Monza when he replaced Alex Albon who was out due to appendicitis. De Vries managed to secure two points in his first ever Grand Prix, and that was done in a Williams at the fastest track on the calendar too.

Having been an integral part of the Mercedes family in recent years, the Alpha Tauri was certainly a surprise to many. In Abu Dhabi, the Mercedes crew gave De Vries a traditional send off to Alpha Tauri. A tyre trolley was used to deliver the Dutchman to his new team’s garage.

Logan Sargeant – Williams

Williams announced that they will be parting ways with Nicolas Latifi for the 2023 season. This opened up an additional seat for another young driver to grab. At the US Grand Prix, it was announced that Logan Sargeant would take the Williams seat in 2023 should he gain enough Super License points to be eligible to race in Formula 1.

The American had to finish third in the F2 standings to secure his seat for 2023, and he was on course to do so by the time the announcement had been made. The final F2 race of the season was in Abu Dhabi, and Sargeant managed to secure his third place, which means that he officially takes the 2023 Williams seat alongside Alex Albon.

Sargeant now becomes the first full time American Formula 1 driver since Scott Speed in 2006. With three US Grands Prix in 2023, an American team, and now an American driver, F1 is more American than ever before.

Nico Hülkenburg – Haas

Mick Schumacher has had a tough season with some big crashes and a couple of mistakes that could have been avoided. The young German carries a lot of weight on his shoulders because of his last name, and expectations have always been high. He’s certainly had some stellar performances, but it seems as though Gunther Steiner’s mind had been made up some time ago.

The German has been dropped for the 2023 season, and in his place, Haas will take on Nico Hülkenberg. Although Haas claimed that Schumacher could still save his seat, Hülkenberg confirmed that he had been in talks with the American team since the summer break, suggesting that Schumacher had already lost his seat halfway through the season.

Hülkenberg is experienced in Formula 1, and despite never having a top car to compete for wins, he delivered an incredible pole position driving a Williams at the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix in damp conditions. 

Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo seemed to be the biggest loser from the Piastri and Alpine debacle. Despite declaring his faith and dedication to McLaren on social media at Silverstone, the team had already signed Piastri (seemingly) without his knowledge. 

There were plenty of rumours about where Ricciardo might go, but as the seats around the grid started filling up, it was clear that the Australian’s time in Formula 1 might come to an end. There seemed to be no possible Formula 1 seat for Ricciardo to take.

On Wednesday following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Red Bull announced that Ricciardo would take the reserve driver role in their team. It took a long time, but the Honey Badger has finally made his way home!

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