ZANDVORT, The Netherlands. The press day ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix on Thursday was dominated by talk of the remaining places on the 2023 grid, with Pierre Gasly increasingly looking like a big player in the drivers’ market.

F1’s wait for clarification as to whether Alpine or McLaren has a valid contract to service Oscar Piastri in 2023 ended on Friday – he will race McLaren next year.

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It is clear that Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo, who will leave McLaren at the end of the year, are going to drive in Alpine.

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Alpine, Haas and Williams have one spot each for next year.

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Alpine’s talks with other riders were delayed pending clarification, which in turn delayed other teams’ decisions.

Gasly has become a fascinating part of this whole equation. While he has a central contract with Red Bull for 2023 that will keep him at AlphaTauri for one more season, his place on the team is not ironclad. Christian Horner and Red Bull management do not see Gasly ever returning to the senior team and it is understandable that he will be allowed to leave if the team equalizes the asking price to buy him out of the contract.

Gasley’s departure would have suited all parties, and American IndyCar driver Colton Herta has been linked with a move to AlphaTauri if a seat becomes available. A team bringing an American into the sport right now has clear advantages given its growing popularity in the US, although Hertha currently does not have the 40 FIA Super License points needed to race in F1 and cannot accumulate enough by the end of the season. . . According to Motorsport.com, the FIA ​​is reviewing Hertha’s super-licence authority with rules and exceptions relating to seasons disrupted by COVID that could potentially give it the opportunity to compete.

Gasly thinks going elsewhere is the best option. Carlos Sainz’s career has skyrocketed since he was released from the Red Bull pilot program, and Alex Albon has been performing brilliantly since getting his second chance at Williams. .

One obvious obstacle may be Gasly’s cold relationship with old childhood friend and fellow Frenchman Esteban Ocon, who would be his teammate at Alpine.

Gasly commented on Thursday, saying: “Obviously we have known each other for many years, we have a lot of respect for each other as riders, that’s how it’s always been. He is a very fast rider and I think we both respect that.”

At Thursday’s press conference, Okon made clear his attitude towards the desired teammate, saying that his choice would be his friend Mick Schumacher.

“People know that if I had something to say, I would pick Mick if he doesn’t have anything planned for next year,” Okon said.

“First of all, he is a good friend of mine. If I can help with that, it’s not a problem. I think he showed talent in junior categories too, he was very fast.

“Sometimes in Formula 1 it is not easy to drive a car that is a little behind. I had this when I started in F1. He’s a great guy and he could do really well if he had a competitive car, Alpine is competitive.”

Schumacher appears to be retiring from Haas, having failed to impress in his 18 months with the team and accumulated an expensive repair bill. It is reported that Schumacher, the son of seven-time world champion Michael, will also lose his place in the Ferrari academy at the end of the season. While this could be detrimental to his career prospects, it will free him up for a move to Alpine, though it’s fair to ask if the performance he’s shown in F1 warrants a second opportunity in a competitive midfield team.

Did a Ferrari video accidentally reveal Gasly’s plans?

While doing his media duties ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix this weekend, Gasly cleared up something that went viral on social media on Thursday. A video review of the Belgian Grand Prix released by Ferrari showed a brief scene of Gasly walking with Charles Leclerc and George Russell to the drivers’ parade before the race.

It clearly features Gasley saying, “I’m still sorting out the final details of the contract,” which many thought could be an offhand remark about the Alpine deal. However, Russell can also be heard saying “married” shortly before, which Gasly claimed was the real context of the discussion.

When asked about the video’s commentary by Sportzshala, Gasly laughed and said, “If you guys had any idea about the subject we were talking about, you would probably laugh. Definitely, I can guarantee you that it was nothing about Formula 1.”

He added: “George was talking about getting married or wedding stuff, so you can understand it wasn’t F1 related.”

What about Daniel Ricciardo?

When the Piastri saga first unfolded during the summer break, Daniel Ricciardo seemed like the most logical option for Alpine as he drove for the team in 2019 and 2020. However, this is not quite the simple solution that it seems on paper.

Ricciardo announced his departure from Renault to McLaren (for 2021) in May 2020, in the midst of the lockdown and before the start of the shortened 2020 F1 season. Understandably, Renault CEO Luca de Meo is still frustrated with the way the situation has turned out, and there is a feeling at Alpine that Ricciardo did not speak of the team in enthusiastic terms, despite winning two podiums that season and finishing fifth. place in the overall standings.

Ricciardo is open to a comeback knowing that if he rediscovers his former form, an Alpine car will likely give him a chance to take on McLaren on the track in 2023. However, Thursday’s speech also made it clear that he is increasingly open to the idea. sabbatical if that meant returning next year, given the limited realistic options available at the moment.

The eight-time race winner has not ruled out becoming the team’s reserve driver next season, which could greatly expand his options in 2024. call, and this situation could potentially give him the opportunity to enter the door of a team like Mercedes or Ferrari. Notably, Lewis Hamilton has yet to sign with Mercedes after 2023.

Now it is difficult to understand the mood of Riccardo. He does a good job of putting on a brave face in an awkward and uncomfortable situation. Sergio Pérez’s recent career turnaround should give Ricciardo some hope that he can return to the front of the grid with the right movement. Pérez, who was one of the drivers reaching out to the Australian after his departure from McLaren was confirmed, appeared to be on the verge of quitting F1 at the end of 2020 only to secure a spot with the Red Bull team, which is now fights for victories every week.

Haas and Williams

Haas boss Gunther Steiner has been slow to confirm who will be Kevin Magnussen’s teammate next year as a name similar to Ricciardo’s is still on the market.

“We’re monitoring the situation with Mick and seeing what’s going on,” Steiner said on Thursday. “We are not in a hurry – why would we make a decision now anyway? If we decide now and make the wrong decision, we will regret it.”

Haas is giving Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi two practice matches at Monza and Austin and many believe the team is preparing him for a potential role racing with the team in 2023. Giovinazzi, who drove for Alfa Romeo for three seasons, is not the most inspiring option, but he will be a steady and reliable hand for the team.

Williams has been even quieter about their plans to replace Nicholas Latifi. Formula E driver Nick de Vries is a candidate, as is American Formula 2 driver Logan Sargent, who won the feeder series earlier this year. While the team is encouraged by Sargeant’s potential, there are fears that an immediate promotion could be too early for the Florida driver, who will compete in the team’s first practice session at the US Grand Prix in October. This appearance seems like the perfect time to announce Sargeant for 2023 if the team is heading in that direction.