The driver market - also nicknamed ‘silly season' - has been as chaotic as ever. The chain reaction of team moves began in late July with four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel’s shock retirement, which was quickly followed by the equally surprising announcement that he would be replaced by Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, who has bafflingly elected to move from a strong midfield team to a backmarker.
In turn, Alpine announced that their newly vacant seat would be filled by reserve driver and reigning F2 champion Oscar Piastri. Piastri disagreed, however, declaring in a statement that due to contract technicalities he was a free agent and in contract talks with McLaren, who are looking to replace the chronically underperforming Daniel Ricciardo.
After having poured millions of pounds into Piastri’s junior career, Alpine feel entitled to the 21-year-old’s services in 2023 and are taking him to contract court. Regardless of the case’s decision, it is highly unlikely that the two parties will choose to work together in 2023 due to the fallout.
Haas’ Mick Schumacher has also emerged as a candidate to fill one of the several available race seats as he is reportedly set to leave the Ferrari Driver Academy, meaning he will be free to choose his team free of the Scuderia’s influence.
As it stands, six teams have yet to confirm their full 2023 lineups, meaning silly season chaos is set to continue indefinitely.
This year’s on-track drama is comparatively bland, as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finds himself 93 points clear at the top of the standings following blazing drives in Hungary and Belgium. Ferrari’s faltering pace in conjunction with a series of self-destructive strategy calls has seen the Scuderia fall 100 points behind title rivals Red Bull.
With seven rounds remaining, time is running out for Formula 1's most successful team to rediscover their pace and take the fight back to Red Bull to claim their first constructor’s championship since 2008.