2023 Formula 1 driver market: Which drivers are going where?

A sudden retirement announcement from Sebastian Vettel that caused Fernando Alonso to walk away from Alpine created one of the most dramatic Formula 1 driver market silly seasons in recent memory. But now the grid for 2023 is finally taking shape, here’s how the 10 teams are set to line up.

2023 Formula 1 driver market: Which drivers are going where?
Listen to this article

Red Bull

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Alessio Morgese

Even before Red Bull streaked well clear of Ferrari in the 2022 constructors’ championship, it had both drivers signed up for next season. Stability is the name of the game as an uber-long deal to retain Max Verstappen means he will again lead the outfit over compliant team-mate Sergio Perez.  

Confirmed 2023 drivers

  • Driver 1: Max Verstappen – Red Bull has the reigning world champion under lock and key, with Verstappen contractually committed to the team until 2028 after signing a five-year extension earlier this season. The deal could net the driver up to €50million a year. 
  • Driver 2: Sergio Perez – After winning this season’s Monaco Grand Prix, the Mexican let slip on his way to the podium that he’d just inked a new deal. Days later, it was announced that Perez had signed on until 2024. But he will need to address his late-campaign slump in form. 

Ferrari

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

Photo by: Alessio Morgese

Ferrari chairman John Elkann wants Maranello to win a drivers’ and constructors’ title before 2026, specifically with “Charles Leclerc in pole position”. Just as well the Monegasque has agreed a long-term deal with the Scuderia. Similarly, stablemate Carlos Sainz is going nowhere for next year.  

Confirmed 2023 drivers

  • Driver 1: Charles Leclerc – Leclerc has been a part of the Ferrari family since 2016, when he joined the Driver Academy. And it seems he’s staying put for a while yet, the team’s leading light having inked a contract to remain a part of the Prancing Horse’s stable until 2024.  
  • Driver 2: Carlos Sainz – To enthuse the tifosi ahead of the 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Ferrari’s doorstep, a two-year extension to keep one-time F1 winner Sainz on board until the end of 2024 was revealed. That will take his stay with the team to at least four years.    

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Lewis Hamilton considered walking away from F1 after the controversial events of Abu Dhabi last year. But he has returned to lead the team in the ground-effect era and help the rapid progress of George Russell. The Brits will again pair up in 2023 as they seek to return the Silver Arrow to success.  

Confirmed 2023 drivers

  • Driver 1: Lewis Hamilton – The seven-time champion is contracted to Mercedes until the end of 2023. Forget those who suggested he should retire early to save face after being beaten initially by George Russell, for Hamilton’s stance is softening. It looks like he will remain with the three-pointed star beyond his current deal.  
  • Driver 2: George Russell – There’s no escaping that once Hamilton walks away, Russell will become the new face of Mercedes in motorsport and take the battle to Messrs Verstappen and Leclerc. Hence why he is on a “long-term” deal, although no end date has been publicly specified.    

Alpine

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522

Photo by: Alessio Morgese

Alpine has not come out of the 2022 driver market dealings smelling of roses. It dillydallied with Fernando Alonso’s contract, causing the Spaniard to seek pastures new. And it upset Oscar Piastri enough to cause F1’s ‘next big thing’ to look elsewhere. So, there’s a space alongside Esteban Ocon. Whatever Alpine eventually decides to do, it’s set to have knock-on effects down the grid. 

Confirmed 2023 drivers

  • Driver 1: Esteban Ocon – There’s little denying that Ocon’s stock has fallen in 2022 after being roundly trumped by Alonso. But he remains secure. The lofty French racer must now lead the team into battle for the remainder of his contract, which expires in late 2024.
  • Driver 2: No driver confirmed – With Alonso and Piastri gone, Alpine is playing the field. Not willing to reunite with old flame Daniel Ricciardo, it’s Pierre Gasly that tops the wishlist. But the team has also evaluated Nyck de Vries, Jack Doohan and Antonio Giovinazzi in a private test should the AlphaTauri driver stay put.  

McLaren

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Alessio Morgese

McLaren has got its man, having poached Formula 2 and 3 champion Oscar Piastri from the books at Alpine. The hot prospect will partner Lando Norris, who has pledged his future to the team but now needs a car capable of allowing him to fight with Verstappen, Leclerc and Russell into the late 2020s.  

Confirmed 2023 drivers

  • Driver 1: Lando Norris – Norris is locked in at McLaren well beyond just next season, having earlier this year committed his future to the team until 2025. The question is, given his talent, how long will it take the Woking squad to give him a car capable of winning races?
  • Driver 2: Oscar Piastri – The Australian has been at the centre of the driver market storm. The Contract Recognition Board ruling in McLaren’s favour saves a few quid, as the team was going to buy his services for 2023 come what may. Daniel Ricciardo, meanwhile, makes way to allow Piastri to arrive on a two-year deal. 

Alfa Romeo

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

The Alfa Romeo branding for the Sauber team will be removed at the end of next season. But ahead of an Audi takeover, continuity is the order of the day for this Swiss squad as Valtteri Bottas stays put and impressive 2022 rookie Zhou Guanyu has been given another year to prove his worth. 

Confirmed 2023 drivers

  • Driver 1: Valtteri Bottas – The Finn replaced compatriot Kimi Raikkonen for 2022 and has enjoyed emerging from the shadow of Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes. He has led Alfa Romeo with distinction and, with a “multi-year” deal in his pocket, fancies sticking around for the Audi entry in 2026.
  • Driver 2: Zhou Guanyu – The Chinese rookie reckons he experienced 10 years’ worth of F1 action in 2022 alone – see his points finishes and huge Silverstone smash. A lack of mistakes has earned him a one-year extension for 2023. Now he must close the 0.35s gap to Bottas.

Haas

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-22

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-22

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Charismatic team boss Gunther Steiner has been blowing more cold than hot when it comes to discussing the future of Mick Schumacher at the team. The driver’s camp isn’t all that impressed with that. But the impressive F1 return of Kevin Magnussen will create some continuity for 2023. 

Confirmed 2023 drivers

  • Driver 1: Kevin Magnussen – The Dane returned to F1 on the eve of the campaign to replace ousted Russian racer Nikita Mazepin on a two-year deal. That followed a season of sportscar racing in America. Magnussen has been the clear team leader at Haas so is going nowhere.
  • Driver 2: No driver confirmed – The incumbent Mick Schumacher has shown flashes and scored his first and second F1 points finishes this season. But he has not taken a major step to match Magnussen regularly. That and, in the age of budget caps, twice splitting the car in two as part of huge shunts has left his future hanging in the balance. Daniel Ricciardo, Antonio Giovinazzi and Nico Hulkenberg are the humdrum candidates to replace him.  

AlphaTauri

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT03

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT03

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

With Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez carrying on at Red Bull, its junior team drivers at AlphaTauri at first appeared on course to be kept in a holding pattern. But with the recent uncertainty over Pierre Gasly’s future as he considers a switch to Alpine, Yuki Tsunoda might expect a new sparring partner. 

Confirmed 2023 drivers

  • Driver 1: Yuki Tsunoda – There’s no denying Tsunoda is rapid on his day, extremely hot-headed and prone to error. But it’s the first factor that has seemingly carried the most weight and earned him a third season in F1 with AlphaTauri with a one-year extension.  
  • Driver 2: No driver confirmed – While Pierre Gasly is technically confirmed for 2023, his future at the team is up in the air as Alpine court his services. Initially, Red Bull driver programme boss Helmut Marko wanted IndyCar star Colton Herta to come in. But since the American has insufficient points for a superlicence, 27-year-old Nyck de Vries is now the leading candidate and has met with Marko. A promotion for junior driver Liam Lawson seems unlikely. 

Aston Martin

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR22

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR22

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Team owner Lawrence Stroll didn’t hang around. As his four-time champion driver Sebastian Vettel set up an Instagram account to reveal his F1 retirement, the Canadian quickly entered successful talks to sign a marquee replacement in Fernando Alonso. Naturally, he will partner Lance Stroll.  

Confirmed 2023 drivers

  • Driver 1: Fernando Alonso – The 41-year-old has exited stage left from the Alpine-branded Enstone team where he won his two titles. The party line is that the new factory and major investment at Aston Martin will grant him greater success faster. He’s got a “multi-year” deal to work with.
  • Driver 2: Lance Stroll – As the son of team owner Lawrence Stroll, the terms of Lance’s contract regarding length and renumeration remain the stuff of speculation. But it’s reasonable to assume the seat is Lance’s for as long as he wants it, or until his dad sells up. 

Williams  

Alex Albon, Williams FW44

Alex Albon, Williams FW44

Photo by: Erik Junius

Alex Albon has done a fine job replacing George Russell as the Williams team leader in 2022, so no surprise as he stays. But with Nicholas Latifi sent packing and the second seat at Williams not attractive enough for Oscar Piastri, there’s a 2023 drive on offer to one of two F1 newcomers.  

Confirmed 2023 drivers

  • Driver 1: Alex Albon – When the silly season truly got going, Williams swiftly announced Albon had agreed an extension with the team to ward off suitors. The Thai-Brit has a “multi-year” deal in his pocket, the new paperwork also allowing him to break away from Red Bull.  
  • Driver 2: No driver confirmed – With Nicholas Latifi’s three-year deal signed in 2020 coming to an end, there’s a vacancy at the Williams inn. After his starring Italian GP cameo in September, Formula E champion Nyck de Vries is the frontrunner. But the Dutch racer also has admirers at Alpine and AlphaTauri, which might lead Williams to promote its American Formula 2 racer and driver academy member Logan Sargeant. In the event he misses out on a top-five finish in the junior series to secure enough superlicence points, Jack Doohan might gain an unexpected opportunity. Moves for Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher also can’t be entirely ruled out.   

2023 F1 free agents

For the four (Alpine, Haas, AlfaTauri, Williams) plum F1 seats left up for grabs, listed below are the leading candidates. Some are Formula 2 students looking to take the next step in their career. Others are more experienced and have had their GP shot, gone away, but are in the frame for a return. And then there’s the current F1 stars who will become free agents at the end of 2022 or might still rip up their existing contract and move elsewhere to ensure the silly season stretches on.  

  • Antonio Giovinazzi – The former Alfa Romeo racer is rapid on his day, but struggled to match a declining Kimi Raikkonen across three seasons as team-mates. Since leaving F1, he’s been tooling around at the back of the Formula E grid with the perplexing Dragon Racing squad. But his value to Ferrari as a simulator driver has earned a Haas FP1 outing at Monza and linked him with replacing Mick Schumacher for 2023. Giovinazzi has also tested for Alpine but perhaps only to act as a benchmark for fellow contenders Nyck de Vries and Jack Doohan.
  • Daniel Ricciardo – Ricciardo has had his contract with McLaren cut short, as the team dropped him a year early in favour of getting his fellow Australian Oscar Piastri in the door. The eight-time F1 race winner has been linked as Mercedes’ test driver, and has publicly said he’s open to a year out if he can make more progress in 2024. Long odds on a Williams move aside, the only other remotely realistic option is to take a heavy pay cut and join Haas.
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

  • Jack Doohan – The son of legendary motorbike racer Mick Doohan has been testing the 2021 Alpine car as part of the team’s lengthy evaluation process to find a replacement for Alonso and Piastri. The rookie Formula 2 racer’s inexperience, though, is a major detractor. But a not wholly unrealistic year or two at Williams could help his learning curve.
  • Logan Sargeant – The young American blew his chance of a late surge to the FIA Formula 2 title spoils following five DNFs in nine races. But he is still on course for a top-five result in the championship, which would grant him sufficient points to earn a superlicence should he receive a call-up from Williams. He is on the team’s books as a driver academy member.  
  • Mick Schumacher – There’s not been the major step forward in his second F1 season to show he is a regular enough match for, let alone quicker, than team-mate Kevin Magnussen. Only two points finishes and twice wrecking his Haas car to the tune of $1million a pop means Schumacher’s time at the American team is almost certainly coming to an end. There’s talk of him cutting ties with Ferrari. If he did that, he would likely turn his back on a decent Hypercar drive also. He cannot be totally ruled out from joining Alpine, since good friend Esteban Ocon has nominated Schumacher as his first choice to replace Alonso. He is also in the conversation concerning the second Williams seat.  
  • Nico Hulkenberg – The German hasn’t raced full-time in F1 since 2019 but is seriously in contention for the second Haas seat alongside Kevin Magnussen. The 35-year-old has featured twice for Aston Martin in 2022 when Sebastian Vettel was sidelined with COVID-19 so has some experience of ground-effect machinery. He is also in the discussion for Alpine.
Nyck de Vries, Williams

Nyck de Vries, Williams

Photo by: Williams

  • Nyck de Vries – The Formula E and Formula 2 champion might have been overlooked by Williams for a 2022 drive, but after his run to ninth place in the Italian GP when he stood in for Alex Albon, de Vries can do no more to earn a place in F1, according to team boss Jost Capito. So impressive was his cameo, the 27-year-old is being considered by Alpine and majorly so by AlphaTauri. Something about F1 drives and London buses… 
  • Pierre Gasly – Officially, at least, Gasly is contracted to AlphaTauri for 2023. However, he’s in this more fluid section because there’s great uncertainty over his future. If he and Esteban Ocon can work out their differences, Gasly is hotly tipped for a switch to Alpine and would likely leave the Red Bull driver pool with the blessing of its overlord Helmut Marko. 
  • The others – IndyCar hot property Colton Herta controversially hasn’t got the required superlicence points so will likely settle for private tests and FP1 outings only. Red Bull junior Liam Lawson will probably be limited to Friday action also. Jack Aitken has a remote chance of moving to Williams should de Vries look elsewhere and Sargeant not gain a superlicence. Pietro Fittipaldi’s lucrative backing keeps him in the frame for a Haas seat. Alfa Romeo reserve Robert Kubica has long odds to gain a full-time drive, while the Italian-Swiss squad’s protégé Theo Pourchaire underwhelmed by not winning the FIA Formula 2 title at his second attempt. Meanwhile, axed Williams racer Nicholas Latifi looks to have run out of full-time F1 options.  
shares
comments
Russell: Mercedes will have "more complete car" in F1 2023
Previous article

Russell: Mercedes will have "more complete car" in F1 2023

Next article

Singapore GP: F1 technical images direct from the pitlane

Singapore GP: F1 technical images direct from the pitlane
How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive Prime

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive

Glory days for Tyrrell became increasingly infrequent
 after Jackie Stewart’s retirement. But in the latest instalment of his history of the team for Autosport's sister title GP Racing, 
MAURICE HAMILTON recalls how Ken Tyrrell’s plucky and defiantly small team stayed bold enough to innovate – springing a surprise with F1’s first six-wheeled car

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Prime

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Motorsport.com in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi.

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Prime

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Prime

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon Prime

The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s teammate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy Prime

How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Prime

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Prime

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second-best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot.

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022