Old & New: A Game Of Who’s Who

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The conclusion of the Formula 1 season always evokes many emotions: sadness at the prospect of three months without the sport, excitement as we look to testing and the start of the 2023 season- as well as the upcoming season of Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive To Survive, and a mixture of both when it comes to the loss of old drivers, and the welcoming of new. 

 

The season finale took place on November 20, at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, and perfectly encapsulated the season. The 5.55 km track was completed in 2009 and its first Formula 1 race was won by Sebastian Vettel, who would later go on to secure his first world championship at the track a year later. It was fitting then, that the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marked the end of the German’s career, who announced his retirement on July 28, 2022, after 15 years in the sport. 

 

The Grand Prix also marked the indefinite end of both Williams driver Nicholas Latifi and Haas driver Mick Schumacher’s careers in F1, who came together hard in Abu Dhabi, marking an early end to Latifi’s final race, and a zero point race for Schumacher. In their stead, the 2023 season will see Logan Sargeant at Williams Racing alongside Alexander Albon, becoming the youngest driver on the grid, and Nico Hulkenburg will rejoin the grid at Haas after his three-season departure, alongside Kevin Magnussen. 

 

After his lack of performance at McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo will be replaced by upcoming star, Oscar Piastri, who won both the F3 and F2 championships in his rookie years. Piastri will drive alongside Lando Norris, after leaving his position as reserve driver for Alpine, who had planned to renew their contract with Fernando Alonso. However, Alonso surprised the team at the beginning of August, announcing that he would be replacing Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin, where he felt he was “more wanted and appreciated”. 

 

With Alonso suddenly out of the mix, Alpine scrambled to come up with a plan, announcing Piastri as their second driver without a proper contract signing. Oscar, who was already in talks with McLaren, reported that he had not signed with Alpine and would not be racing with them in 2023. Consequently, Alpine was forced to step back and reassess their options. On October 7, 2022, Alpine announced that Pierre Gasly would join them in 2023, and that his seat at Alpha Tauri would be filled by Nyck de Vries. After the Dutch driver’s impressive debut performance at the Italian Grand Prix – where he stood in for Alex Albon due to appendicitis – it is not surprising that Alpha Tauri would be keen to take on this new driver. His 2-point achievement in his F1 debut created an immediate buzz in the paddock, as well as activating speculations of where de Vries would end up for the 2023 season.

 

With the movements between six of the ten teams, the 2023 Formula 1 grid will have the most driver changes since the 2019 season. Beginning in Bahrain on March 5, the 2023 season will feature a record-breaking 24 races, and is certain to be a season filled with excitement, dispute, and close competition.