The 2023 Formula One silly season has been nothing but a damp squib. The driver market has thus far been utterly predictable with Mercedes retaining both Hamilton and Russell, Haas indicating they will make no changes and Ferrari and Aston Martin have drivers with contracts through to 2025.
McLaren have Lando Norris locked in for two more seasons and new boy Oscar Piastri is expected to receive a contract extension with the papaya liveried team.
AlphaTauri driver interest
The soon to be renamed AlphaTauri squad have delivered the most interest in terms of drivers having signed ex-Mercedes junior Nyck de Vries and then sacked him after just 10 races.
In came Daniel Ricciardo who despite being out the cockpit of a Formula One car for 7 months was quickly on the pace and at times faster than his Japanese team mate.
Then in Zandvoort Ricciardo came upon the McLaren of Piastri blocking the track in free practice two and in avoiding a T-bone style impact, the Australian chose to hit the barrier instead.
Unfortunately this ripped the steering wheel from his hand breaking a metacarpal bone which has since been operated upon.
Into the team came the highly rated Red Bull reserve driver Liam Lawson and in his three races to date has outscored Tsunoda and has a better average qualifying position than his Japanese team mate.
The idea of bringing in Ricciardo was to bench mark Tsunoda’s capabilities given during his three years in F1 he has not been tested against a top driver.
Following the Singapore Grand Prix where Lawson scored points and out qualified Yuki, it appeared clear this would be his final season with the red Bull sister team and maybe in F1.
Many believe Yuki was given the opportunity with Alpha Tauri ahead of other worthy contenders due to demands placed on the Milton Keynes squad by their Japanese engine supplier Honda.
Red Bull have expressed frustration at Honda’s dithering over whether to remain in F1 or leave the sport completely. This led the world champion team to found its own power unit division to be ready for the new regulations coming in 2026.
Then Red Bull having declared their technology partnership hook up with Ford for 2026, Honda decided to remain within F1 providing power units for Aston Martin.
“”Would we have made a same decision knowing what Honda’s decision is today? Absolutely not,” Horner said on hearing the news of their new relationship with Aston Martin.
“But we’ve made it, and we’re committed to it, the more we’ve got involved the more benefit we see to the group long term.”
Bizarre Tsunoda new deal reports
Of course this brings into question whether Yuki Tsunoda will remain with the Red Bull sister team beyond the end of this year given the Honda influence is now diminished.
Whilst many F1 observers suggest Tsuonda has not proven himself sufficiently, now AMuS is reporting at his home racer in Japan this coming weekend, he will announce a contract extension with the Faenza based F1 squad.
Yet with no quotable source the new appears surprising to many as Helmut Marko has already indicated Daiel Ricciardo will remain with the team for 2024.
This then leaves no place for the highly rated Liam Lawson who has already missed a season of European racing following his departure from Formula Two.
Lawson to Williams
Sky F1 expert Karun Chandok believes Williams should recruit Lawson following his impressive weekend in Singapore. The New Zealander knocked Max Verstappen out of Q2 by 7 milliseconds. and then scored two points in the race for the ailing AplhatAuri squad who had previously scored just 3 points in 14 races.
“If I was Williams, I would definitely be looking at Liam Lawson,” Chandok told Sky F1.
“You’ve got to have the conversation, haven’t you? Because you know, Albon’s out-qualified Sargeant on every occasion, he has had scored all the points so far at Williams.
“If you are Williams, you should be shopping around and Liam Lawson had put himself on the market in a very good way.”
Sargeant out of F1
Williams team boss James Vowles has already confirmed Albon is remaining with the team “long term” but refused to comment on the underperforming Logan Sargeant.
When asked about his future in Formula One, Lawson replied “I have no idea, honestly.”
“It’s tricky to get a full-time seat in this sport. But like I said, rather than looking at all those external things, it’s for me just focusing on every session, trying to maximise each time I’m in the car and try what I can.”
Ricciardo long term plan for Red Bull
If Tsunoda is retained and finds a seat at Williams, then Red Bull will retain him under contract to them for the future.
Clearly Sergio Perez will be dropped at the end of his contract in 2024 and Red Bull will require a replacement to race alongside Max Verstappen.
Ricciardo is expected to fulfil that role initially given Lawson will not have the experience required to guarantee there number two to Verstappen is delivering the best possible results for the team.
Lawson would then move across to the Red Bull sister team in an attempt to stake his claim for a drive at the top table.
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 18, 2023