The retirement of Sebastian Vettel leaves Aston Martin with a difficult task to find a new driver ahead of the 2023 season.
The 35-year-old German has endured a tough season with the British outfit and shown interest in activism and other aspects of his life. It perhaps comes as no surprise that the four-time world champion has decided to step away from the sport.
But even if Vettel had given earlier notice to his team about his intentions, there is no obvious move to make, looking at which drivers could be available for next season.
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We look at the potential options for Aston Martin as they search for an adequate replacement.
The McLaren driver is struggling this season with a general acceptance that, whatever the reason, Daniel Ricciardo is failing to match the team’s expectations, which is not helped by team-mate Lando Norris’ excellent form.
While McLaren have said that they intend to keep hold of Ricciardo there could be the chance for him to move on to another established team, where he would offer experience to Lance Stroll, and give McLaren the chance to bring in a fresh face without having to awkwardly accommodate Ricciardo for another year.
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Nyck de Vries
Nyck de Vries made his first F1 outing for Mercedes as one of their reserve drivers at Paul Ricard, and Lewis Hamilton said after the successful French Grand Prix that the Dutchman had handled himself well, and helped the team.
While few would have expected him to outperform Hamilton or George Russell in a single session, he did not look conspicuously out of place, and he can point to his Formula E championship as evidence of his winning instinct.
He has been linked in recent weeks to a move away from Formula E to another format, so if Aston Martin are quick they could perhaps tie him down.
Fernando Alonso would offer much of what Vettel did. He is an experienced head in Formula One, with world championships to his name. Into his fourth decade, he could teach plenty to Stroll and while he remains hopeful of winning another Grand Prix, his ambition does not extend to another championship, so could handle the move to another mid-ranking team.
Of course, he is expected to remain with French side Alpine into next season, but no announcement has been made. There might be a chance for Aston Martin to step in and secure another well established driver.
Fernando Alonso sul circuito Paul Ricard per il GP di Francia 2022
Image credit: Getty Images
Still only 21, Australian driver Oscar Piastri is a back-to-back Formula 3 and Formula 2 champion, and is currently Alpine’s reserve driver.
He clearly has plenty of potential to explore, and has been linked with replacing his compatriot Ricciardo at McLaren. However, recent reports suggest that Alpine are not willing to let him leave, but would consider loaning him out next season.
A short-term replacement for Aston Martin might appeal, but would depend on Alpine being willing to help out a rival, even if it helped their own driver’s development too.
Schumacher has had an inconsistent time with Haas. At some points he looks on the cusp of breaking through to be an established driver, only to be let down by a lapse in concentration or a technical fault.
After finally winning a championship point for his team, he appears to have grown a touch impatient with his team after they gave team orders in favour of Kevin Magnussen in Austria. Coupled with Haas' technical problems, he could be tempted to jump ship.
An experienced if limited driver, the 34-year-old German is Aston’s reserve driver and would be the simplest option to pick up.
Hulkenberg stepped in for Vettel at the first two races of this season, when the latter tested positive for coronavirus, and was on the pace despite his lack of experience in an F1 car in recent years.
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