Pierre Gasly will retain the seat of AlphaTauri in 2023
Pierre Gasly is ‘100% confirmed’ to return to AlphaTauri next season, and teams believe Oscar Piastri is set for promotion to a Formula 1 seat
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly enters the team’s garage during qualifying for the 2022 Canadian GP at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on Saturday. AFP
Montreal: Pierre Gasly is “100% confirmed” to return to AlphaTauri next season, and teams believe Oscar Piastri is set for promotion to a Formula 1 seat.
But Williams expects their lineup to remain unchanged until the end of the year – great news, if true, for Nicholas Latifi – and McLaren boss Zak Brown has said his relationship with beleaguered driver Daniel Ricciardo had never been better.
It all came to light on Saturday at the Canadian Grand Prix, the ninth event on this year’s calendar and a solid six weeks before the ‘silly season’ of the F1 driver movement kicks into full swing.
Speculation has swirled since last month when Brown publicly warned Ricciardo to resume his performance with McLaren. Although the Aussie has a contract that runs until 2023, Brown has revealed there are “mechanisms” for McLaren to end the deal early.
But as the series returned to Canada for the first time since 2019, Toronto-born Latifi admitted her seat with Williams was unsafe. It has been suggested that Latifi could be replaced after Sunday’s race by reigning F2 champion Piastri. Piastri has a one-year contract with Alpine as a reserve and test driver, but the team had promised to help him secure an F1 seat for 2023.
Alpine manager Otmar Szafnauer said ‘yes’ when asked if Piastri was ready for promotion but said he had no information beyond speculation circulating in the paddock that the Australian was about to replace Latifi.
And Jost Capito, manager of Williams, appeared to rule out the idea that Latifi would be out of work after Sunday’s race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Capito acknowledged that Piastri was “ready to enter Formula 1” and was “one on the list for sure” of any team looking for a driver.
But could Piastri be in a Williams seat from the British Grand Prix? Capito said Alex Albon and Latifi are under contract.
“We are focused on this year, we have a lineup of drivers for this year,” Capito said. “We have no other plans. Both have a contract for the season and that’s our plan, to fulfill it.
The situation is not at all murky for Gasly at AlphaTauri as team principal Franz Tost was firm in that the Frenchman will be back in 2023.
“It’s 100% confirmed,” Tost said on Saturday.
Gasly himself hadn’t looked so sure just a week ago in Baku as the 26-year-old stressed he wanted to run for wins and not just points. It has led to speculation Gasly could be trying to break free from Red Bull, who have backed him for most of his career but have no open seats in F1 and have just extended Sergio Perez’s contract.
Tost silenced the speculation.
“He will be our driver, from Scuderia AlphaTauri, in 2023,” Tost said.
But when asked how Gasly was convinced to stay, the team boss was brief: “He has a valid contract, there’s nothing more to say.”
Ricciardo has been asked about his future in F1 and with McLaren almost every week since Brown publicly called the Australian’s time with the team disappointing.
Ricciardo says his contract is clear until 2023, but Brown indicated there are clauses that could create an early exit. Asked how their relationship has evolved in the month since Brown publicly slammed the popular driver, Brown said the “relationship with Daniel has never been better” and the two recently had dinner together in London.
Brown also said McLaren bears some responsibility for Ricciardo’s struggles. McLaren are not currently giving cars to Ricciardo or Lando Norris to compete with Red Bull and Ferrari.
“We need to produce a faster race car,” Brown said. “Last year at Monza when we had a good race car we could see what Daniel and Lando could do with it. We have to focus on giving our drivers better race cars and I think that Daniel is very motivated and has our full support, we are having fun and have a great relationship with him and I hope we have a good weekend.