On July 31, 2022, the Hungarian Grand Prix confirmed a new victory for Verstappen which increased his lead at the top of the championship. The end of the Hungarian Grand Prix also marked the start of the F1 2022 summer break. No one imagined then the events that would follow. As I write these lines, the F1 2022 summer break is over and the Belgian Grand Prix is not far away. It must be said that time has passed quickly this season.
Indeed, this F1 2022 summer break like no other and which has been able to keep us in suspense all summer has as its starting point, the creation of his official Instagram account by Vettel, on July 28, 2022…
Act I: Vettel’s retirement, the trigger.
On July 28, 2022, media day in Budapest, Vettel created an Instagram account. The German is not known to be fond of social networks and is very far from it compared to the rest of the grid. In the process, two videos, one in English, the other in German. The content of these videos is the same: the quadruple world champion announces that this is his last year in F1. It’s a rather unpredictable announcement because Vettel was expected to return to Aston Martin.
But Baby Schumi, very committed to contemporary societal issues (we have often seen him wear an activist helmet, whether for LGBT rights, support for Ukraine, support for environmental causes, etc.) wants to spend more time with his family. His family is not the Stroll family.
Vettel therefore made his decision before the F1 2022 summer break in order to have peace of mind and to be able to fully enjoy his holidays with his family.
Act II: The formalization of Alonso for 2023 by Aston Martin
On August 1, 2022, the first day of the F1 2022 summer break kicks off with a bang. From ten o’clock in the morning, Aston Martin announces, to everyone’s surprise, the signing of Alonso. This announcement was all the more unpredictable as during the weekend in Hungary, the Alpine Team principal told the media that the renewal negotiations with Alonso would only be a formality and a question of details.
The Spaniard has therefore pulled the rug out from under the French team, which finds itself with a vacant seat for 2023. But Alpine has backup plans…
Act III: The formalization of Piastri for 2023 by Alpine
On August 2, 2022, the second day of the F1 2022 summer break, around 6 p.m., Alpine had already found Alonso’s replacement in the person of Piastri! The young Australian, F3 and F2 champion is the logical and legitimate successor to the Spaniard as he is currently the reserve driver for the French team and a member of the Alpine Academy. His career was largely funded by Enstone.
Until the announcement of Alonso’s departure, Piastri was instead sent to Williams on a sort of loan. Alpine had the choice of the king with an certainly aging but efficient Alonso, and a promising young Piastri who has proven himself in the lower categories.
Act IV: Piastri’s denial
… On the same day, the F1 2022 summer break gains even more momentum in the drama. It is 8 p.m., Piastri having not yet made any comment on the announcement of his tenure at Alpine for 2023. Then comes a communication on his social networks: “I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine issued a press release at the end of the afternoon to say that I will be driving for them next year. It’s not true and I haven’t signed with Alpine for 2023. I won’t be driving for Alpine next year.“.
It is rare, if not unheard of, to see a driver, who is moreover a rookie, deny driving for an F1 team, where everyone would envy him. It must be said that the denial was predictable. Many had noted that Alpine’s announcement was not accompanied by a testimonial from the pilot, for example, or comments from the pilot himself in the wake of the announcement.
Act V: Williams who adds a layer?
The Grove stable has decided that all this drama unfolding before our eyes is the right time to make an announcement on August 3, 2022 at 4 p.m. The summer break F1 2022 not being sufficient, we imagine any announcement, an officialization of Piastri who would have a contract with the British team at the expense of the French team?
In the end, nothing will happen, since Williams confirms Albon for 2023. The Thai takes the opportunity to parody the Piastri-Alpine denial, which had the merit of amusing the main actor. A behavior that can be annoying.
Act VI: Persistent Piastri-McLaren Rumors
Rarely have we seen a driver deny having signed with a team. Especially when it comes to a seat from a manufacturer, a mid-table team. It must be said that this whole situation was very badly managed. First, Alonso surprises absolutely everyone with his secret agreement with Aston Martin made official on August 1st. It is said that Piastri was linked to Alpine this season until July 31 and that beyond that, he would be free to negotiate with another team. However, the situation is not so clear since it would seem that the Australian, who would therefore have negotiated a contract with McLaren (pushing Ricciardo prematurely towards the exit), would also have a valid contract with Alpine. The case has grown to the point that the French team intends to have the matter settled in court.
We can also blame Alpine and Piastri for their disastrous management of communication. Alpine was ridiculed by Piastri’s denial and by announcing the latter, presumably without having warned the principal concerned or even an exchange with him. Alpine had the present and the future, it lost everything in two days. But Piastri in his denial could also have done better in the use of words. When we know that there are only 20 places in the premier category, it will be better for the latter, if it were to be confirmed by McLaren (apart from any contrary legal decision), that he performs. He will be closely scrutinized by everyone and will have all the pressure in the world on his shoulders, facing a Norris who remains the darling of McLaren.
Credits: Haas F1 Team
Credits: Formula 1
Today, it seems that a bucket seat at Alpine is available, the most popular driver currently (Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari being sold out for 2023). If Ricciardo were to be ejected by McLaren, he could make a return to the side of Enstone, which he played alongside from 2019 to 2020. Pourchaire who is currently in F2, could also be an option, although he is a member from the Sauber Academy. The latest rumors a few days before the Belgian Grand Prix point to the possibility of seeing Schumacher at Alpine and Ricciardo at Haas eventually. And Giovinazzi is said to be in talks for a comeback. Only the future will tell us …
EDIT: On August 24, 2022, McLaren confirms that Ricciardo will leave the Woking team at the end of 2022.
PS: In the meantime, the teams remain the same as at the beginning of the year; everything can be found here.