Formula 1: Unexpected seat opens up for 2023

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Formula 1 (Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Formula 1 (Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

With Sebastian Vettel set to retire at the end of the 2022 Formula 1 season, another seat has unexpectedly opened up for 2023.

Four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel announced this week that the 2022 season will be his final season competing in the sport.

Vettel, who is in his 15th full season in the sport and second with Aston Martin, had been in talks with Aston Martin about his plans for beyond the conclusion of this season, and the team wanted to have him back. However, the 35-year-old German decided that it was time to move on.

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As a result, Aston Martin have a seat to fill in 2023 that not many would have anticipated opening up a few months ago.

Lance Stroll, as the son of team owner Lawrence Stroll, likely isn’t going anywhere, even if not “confirmed” by a signature on a contract quite yet.

But who will join him in 2023?

Oscar Piastri had been linked to Nicholas Latifi’s Williams seat, with Latifi likely out after 2022, but with Williams junior driver Logan Sargeant impressing the organization with multiple recent wins in Formula 2, perhaps Piastri could find himself looking elsewhere.

Or perhaps both drivers who end up competing in 2023 as rookies will drive for Williams, which would allow current Williams driver Alexander Albon to shift over to Aston Martin to replace Vettel.

Albon had been rumored to join McLaren as well in the event that Daniel Ricciardo opted not to return to the team in 2023, though Ricciardo has since shot down those rumors.

Should Ricciardo end up not returning to the Woking-based team after all, however, Aston Martin would be a logical fit for him as well.

Vettel himself has backed Haas driver Mick Schumacher to be his replacement, as many expected he would in the event that he did decide to call it a career. Given the relationship between the two, could Vettel’s retirement come under the condition that Schumacher is made an offer for the seat?

Maybe that would’ve made sense a few months ago, when Schumacher was seen as being on the hot seat at Haas, but he has since stepped up his game and has been performing at a high level. Would leaving for Aston Martin be a smart move?

Fernando Alonso’s name has been brought up as well. He is reportedly in talks to extend his current deal with Alpine, but until something is signed, never say never.

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And of course, we cannot forget current Aston Martin reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg, who has been out of a full-time Formula 1 ride since 2019 but made two relief appearances for Sebastian Vettel to open up the 2022 season.