Driver swaps and team boss switches – All the big moves you need to know about ahead of 2023 season
When the teams unleash their 2023 cars out on track in Bahrain for pre-season testing later this month, you will notice a few differences from last year, both in the cockpit and on the pit wall. So, in case you've been taking a break from F1 news over the winter, here's a guide to everything you need to know about the key off-season moves in the paddock...
-- Driver changes --
Fernando Alonso swaps blue for green
Formula 1's silly season kicked off on the first day of last year's summer break when Fernando Alonso announced he would be leaving Alpine for Aston Martin, to replace Sebastian Vettel, who had just announced that he was retiring from the sport. Two-time world champion Alonso is now set to partner Lance Stroll this year, in what will be the Spaniard's 20th F1 season.
Oscar Piastri's dramatic McLaren move
Another driver that opted to leave Alpine is Oscar Piastri, with the Australian reserve making the contentious move to join the French team's rival for P4 in the championship, McLaren.
In one of the biggest sagas of the summer, both McLaren and Alpine claimed they had the rights to Piastri's services, with the F1 Contract Recognition Board forced to mediate – eventually ruling in favour of McLaren, meaning the former F3 and F2 champ will be racing in papaya colours alongside Lando Norris this season.
Pierre Gasly replaces Alonso... and Piastri
With Piastri following Alonso out the exit door, Alpine sought to acquire Pierre Gasly’s services from AlphaTauri (and Red Bull) for the 2023 season. A deal being struck meant that there will be two French drivers racing for the French team, with Gasly signing a multi-year contract to partner his childhood adversary Esteban Ocon this season.
Nyck de Vries gets a full time race seat at AlphaTauri
Gasly's departure created a vacancy at AlphaTauri, and there was one man who was making waves at the perfect time to grab it.
Mercedes reserve driver Nyck de Vries had multiple FP1 outings in 2022 for a variety of teams – and then wowed the paddock with a fine P9 finish in his maiden Grand Prix when he stood in for Williams' Alex Albon at the Italian Grand Prix. The Dutchman was suddenly in demand, and soon sealed a deal to race alongside Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri this year.
Ricciardo returns home to Red Bull
Ricciardo returns to Red Bull in 2023, but this time as a reserve driver. The eight-time Grand Prix winner lost his race seat at McLaren to compatriot Piastri, and opted against an immediate return to the grid with another team, instead choosing to take a break from competitive action for this year.
That means this season he will be playing backup to former team mate Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, at a team where he enjoyed plenty of success – winning seven races during his five-year spell in Milton Keynes.
The Hulk is back again
After three seasons on the sidelines as a reserve driver – which included four super sub appearances for Racing Point and Aston Martin – Nico Hulkenberg is back on the grid full time in 2023, with Haas. He will partner his old rival Kevin Magnussen this year, after the American team opted not to extend the contract of Mick Schumacher.
Schumacher takes up reserve role at Mercedes
Haas’ decision not to extend Schumacher’s contract meant that the 2020 Formula 2 champion was left without a race seat for the 2023 season. Schumacher, however, will still be seen around the paddock this year, as he performs reserve driver duties at Mercedes, while plotting his route back to a full-time race seat.
Williams promote one of their own
After finishing fourth in his rookie campaign in Formula 2 last season, Logan Sargeant will replace Nicholas Latifi at Williams this year. The former Williams Academy driver took part in four FP1 sessions – in Austin, Mexico, Brazil, and Abu Dhabi – for the Grove outfit in 2022, and he will now become the first American F1 driver since Alexander Rossi in 2015.
-- Team boss changes --
Vasseur replaces Binotto at Ferrari
After months of speculation regarding his position, Mattia Binotto put an end to it all when he resigned as Team Principal of Ferrari in November, leaving the Scuderia searching for a replacement. They found that further down the pit lane at Alfa Romeo, with Frenchman Frederic Vassuer given the opportunity to take over the reins at Ferrari.
Sauber appoint Seidl CEO
The Sauber Group – who run the Alfa Romeo F1 team – then moved swiftly to appoint former McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl as their new CEO. Seidl has strong ties to Audi – who will enter the sport as an engine manufacturer with Sauber in 2026 – having won the Le Mans 24 Hours three times with Porsche, with both brands owned by the Volkswagen group.
Seidl will be assisted in running the team this year by Sauber Group Managing Director Alessandro Alunni Bravi, who has been given the additional role of ‘Team Representative’ for the 2023 F1 campaign.
McLaren promote Stella
Seidl’s departure meant that McLaren were on the look out for a new leader on the pit wall. However, unlike their rivals, the Woking-based team opted to hire from within, with CEO Zak Brown making the decision to promote Executive Director of Racing Andrea Stella to the role of Team Principal.
Williams part ways with Capito and Demaison...
After two seasons in charge of the Grove team, it was announced in December that Jost Capito would be leaving his role as Team Principal of Williams – after a season which saw them finish at the bottom of the championship standings with 8 points. Also leaving Williams alongside Capito was the Technical Director he had brought in, FX Demaison.
...And bring in James Vowles from Mercedes
A few weeks later, Williams announced the appointment of Mercedes' Strategy Chief James Vowles as their new Team Principal. Vowles – who has been a part of nine world championship winning seasons with Brawn GP and Mercedes – will begin his task of trying to get Williams back up the order on February 20.