After this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, the Formula 1 season will be at its halfway point. Following the Belgian Grand Prix on July 30th, the championship will take its traditional four-week summer break. The first race back is in the Netherlands on August 27th.
Dutch driver Nyck de Vries will not be on the grid for his home race. In fact, he may never return to Formula 1 following Alpha Tauri’s decision to drop him ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix. In a move few could have predicted, Daniel Riccardo makes a surprise to the sport and takes his seat for the remainder of the year.
“I’m very pleased to welcome Daniel back into the team,” commented Franz Tost, Alpha Tauri Team Principal when announcing the news. “There’s no doubt about his driving skills, and he already knows many of us, so his integration will be easy and straightforward. The team will also profit a lot from his experience, as he is an eight-time Formula 1 Grand Prix winner.”
Deja Vu All Over Again
In 2019 Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly traded places from Belgium onwards. The promotion for Albon did not work too well. After 26 races at Red Bull, he was dropped and left without a race seat for 2021. Italian Giancarlo Fisichella was another that switched teams mid-season. He left Force India to take his “dream job” of driving for Ferrari for the final five races of 2009.
Jarno Trulli made two mid-season swaps during his career. In 1997 he switched from Minardi to Prost. Seven years later, he exited Renault to join Toyota towards the end of the 2004 season.
Of course, the biggest mid-season seat jump came in 2016 when Russian Daniil Kyvatt was demoted to the Toro Rosso team, and Max Verstappen got his chance at Red Bull. Verstappen won on his Red Bull debut in Spain two weeks later. To add insult to injury, Verstappen would later make off with Kyvatt’s girlfriend!
More to be Axed in 2023? 2024 has 24
Will more drivers depart before the end of 2023? Nyck de Vries teammate, Yuki Tsunoda has certainly not excelled at Alpha Tauri but being, like his car’s engine providers, Japanese, he is probably safe until the end of 2023.
Logan Sargeant, like de Vries, has not scored a world championship point in 2023. But, he probably brings a lot of money into his team – and that is much needed at Williams. He looks safe for now.
What will the 2024 F1 season bring?
Formula 1 has announced the season will be the biggest yet with 24 races.
2021, 2022, and 2023 have – and will be – 22 race affairs. Next season the Chinese Grand Prix will return after a five-year absence. The Shanghai circuit memorably last raced in 2019 when hosting Formula 1′s 1,000th race celebrations.
One driver that is unlikely to fall, be pushed, or jump, is Lando Norris. The 23-year-old is hot property, and McLaren has him contracted until the end of 2025. There would appear to be no good reason for him to leave the team. His car has dramatically improved and carried him to fourth in Canada and second in Silverstone.
Verstappen may need to suffer a mechanical failure - or simply have a bad day - but the prospect of Norris winning one of the season’s remaining 12 races must be considered a ‘very real prospect’. William Hill quotes a McLaren race win in 2023 at odds of 7/2, and it appears a good bet.
In the value stakes, it is a better betting proposition on other William Hill F1 specials - such as the 9/1 on offer about Verstappen winning the remaining 12 races or 12/1 that a Williams driver will finish on a podium step at least once.