Sebastian Vettel has triggered plenty of speculation in the F1 paddock with the announcement that he will be retiring from F1 at the end of the season.
In addition to the obvious seat available at Aston Martin, Vettel's decision will have a knock-on effect and potentially lead to significant changes up and down the grid.
RacingNews365.com has spoken to several paddock sources to get the latest on how the driver market is playing out, and who the movers and shakers are likely to be.
No changes at the top three teams
At the front of the F1 field, no changes are expected at Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes between the 2022 and 2023 campaigns.
Max Verstappen has committed his services to Red Bull through 2028, with teammate Sergio Perez recently penning a two-year extension.
It's a similar story at Ferrari, with Charles Leclerc working through his own long-term deal (which runs until the end of the 2024 season) and Carlos Sainz extending his stay for another two years.
Meanwhile, Mercedes look set to continue with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell until at least the end of the 2023 season.
The only change could come if Hamilton decides to retire from F1, but this looks unlikely.
Vettel's replacement one of the big questions
Further back, and following Vettel's announcement, things start to get interesting – with several changes possible depending on how talks unfold.
RacingNews365.com understands that Aston Martin's two clear options to partner Lance Stroll are Haas driver Mick Schumacher and McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo.
Vettel is a friend of Schumacher and has personally backed him as a "great driver" who "keeps learning", with his recent surge in form backing that up.
As for Ricciardo, he has struggled to consistently match Lando Norris during his spell at McLaren to date, and a clean break could suit both parties.
However, the Australian made clear during his pre-weekend media duties in Hungary that his "future is clear" and it lies with McLaren.
Potential debuts for Piastri and de Vries
Ricciardo's links with Aston Martin lead on to another developing situation involving Alpine-backed Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri.
RacingNews365.com understands that Piastri was initially offered a seat at Williams from this year's British Grand Prix as a replacement for Nicholas Latifi.
This deal would have continued into the 2023 season, allowing him to build up F1 experience ahead of a return to Alpine in the future.
However, it is understood that McLaren subsequently showed an interest in Piastri as a possible replacement for fellow countryman Ricciardo – with a preliminary agreement believed to be in place.
Piastri is already in the picture at McLaren, having joined their pool of 'standby' drivers earlier in the season.
This would make a Ricciardo/Aston Martin tie-up more plausible, also considering his links with the brand when they sponsored Red Bull.
As such, Williams could now pursue the services of Mercedes-backed Nyck de Vries, an F2 and Formula E champion who impressed both teams with his FP1 outings this season.
What about the rest of the F1 grid?
Elsewhere, Alpine are expected to continue with both Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso – an extension for the Spaniard is due imminently.
AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo also look well set, with Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda (backed by Honda), Valtteri Bottas and rookie Guanyu Zhou all due to continue.
Amid the Aston Martin speculation, and following a spate of one-year renewals at Mercedes, Bottas joked: "I never believed I could say this, but I have a contract!"
At Haas, the situation depends on what happens with Schumacher. If he stays, it would be another season alongside Kevin Magnussen, but if he goes to Aston Martin, fellow Ferrari-backed racer Antonio Giovinazzi could return with Haas.
As a sidenote, it is understood that Haas reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi – who replaced the injured Romain Grosjean at the end of the 2020 season – is trying to put together a significant budget to secure a full-time seat.
If he does, it could lead to some extra discussions between Ferrari and Haas, and the Scuderia potentially letting go of their seat requirements in return for a cut of the deal.
Possible F1 2023 team and driver line-ups
|Team||Driver 1||Driver 2|
|McLaren||Norris||Ricciardo / Piastri|
|Aston Martin||Stroll||Schumacher / Ricciardo|
|Williams||Albon||De Vries / Latifi|
|Haas||Magnussen||Schumacher / Giovinazzi / Fittipaldi|
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