Formula 1 never fails to enthrall fans with its high-speed action and intense rivalries. As the 2023 season reaches its halfway point, the drama is not limited to the circuits alone. It’s time for the silly season.
Now, when you hear the term “silly season,” you probably think of all the absurdity that reality TV, Hollywood, and the media throw at you. You know, those remarkably ridiculous moments that leave us scratching our heads and questioning the state of humanity.
Well, Formula 1 has its own version of this madness.
🤪 What is silly season?
This is the time when uncertainty about next year’s grid spreads like wildfire. It’s like a real-life soap opera, but we have F1 drivers taking center stage instead of glamorous divas and petty drama.
The season usually begins around the summer break, when rumors begin to appear about potential driver moves for the start of the next season. The rumors are largely unsubstantiated and are fueled by the press and fans having no on-track action to talk about.
However, the silly season can really begin at any time. Usually, fans will say it has started when there is a contract signing or a big driver move, such as Ricciardo coming back to AlphaTauri.
Examples of the silly season
In the past, you could see what the silly season really was on several occasions.
Back in 1993, there were many huge changes in Formula 1 teams.
Alain Prost made a surprise comeback with Williams. Nigel Mansell, the 1992 champion, decided he’s had enough of playing second fiddle. He packed his bags and stormed out of the team cause he wanted to be numero uno.
Meanwhile, the McLaren driver, Ayrton Senna, also threatened to hit the road. But then, out of the blue, he signed a contract. Crisis averted! Well, except for the whole Honda fiasco. They decide to bail, leaving McLaren with an engine as competitive as a tortoise in a rabbit race.
Gerhard Berger waved goodbye to McLaren and hopped over to Ferrari. Also, some drivers said, “See ya!” to their teams and never looked back.
Fast forward to more recent times. In 2016, Nico Rosberg became the champion and then, out of the blue, decided to retire. Mercedes was left scratching their heads with an empty driver’s seat. They snatch up Williams driver Valtteri Bottas, which left Williams high and dry.
Williams reached out to their recently retired driver, Felipe Massa, and asked him for one more spin. They had to act fast because all the other great drivers were already locked into contracts.
Still, the drama of all dramas happened last year.
Fernando Alonso pulled a fast one and ditched Alpine for Aston Martin, leaving everyone with their jaws on the floor. But Alpine had a plan up their sleeve. They announced that Oscar Piastri, their reserve driver, will take the wheel in 2023.
Just when you thought you had the scoop, Piastri storms in with a Twitter tornado saying he never signed a contract with Alpine for 2023.
Alpine never retracted their original statement or addressed Piastri’s sassy refusal.
🔥 2023 silly season
The 2023 F1 “silly season” was expected to be peaceful, with most drivers locked into contracts for 2024. But rumors have erupted like fireworks, and they involve none other than Lewis Hamilton.
Before we start speculating about Sir Hamilton, let’s dive into the driver situation for next season at each team.
2023 lineup: Lewis Hamilton, George Russell
2024 drivers under contract: George Russell
2023 lineup: Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll
2024 drivers under contract: Lance Stroll, Fernando Alonso
2023 lineup: Lando Norris, Oscar Piastri
2024 drivers under contract: Lando Norris, Oscar Piastri
2023 lineup: Valtteri Bottas, Zhou Guanyu
2024 drivers under contract: Valtteri Bottas
🤫 2023 Rumors
🔵 Checo has failed to reach the podium in three straight races before the Austrian GP, and rumors are heating up that his seat isn’t secure. Daniel Ricciardo could be in line as his replacement.
I have full support from Helmut and Christian. The whole team is fully backing me, and they know what I can do. They know my potential, and they are fully behind me.
We’re making progress, because the pace is there on Sundays. But it’s just the whole weekend overall – we’ve had a few bad weekends. But at the end of the day it only matters where we finish in Abu Dhabi. So, it’s a long season still, and I fully believe that I can get my season back on track.
⚫️ On the other hand, Hamilton has been tangled up in negotiations with Mercedes for what feels like forever. They’ve been going back and forth, trying to lock down an extension to his current contract that’s set to expire at the end of the 2023 season.
Hamilton himself and Mercedes’s big boss, Toto Wolff, have been singing the same tune. However, we’re still waiting for that official confirmation.
Rumors say that the coming years could see a lot of big-name driver moves, with Ferrari losing both of their current drivers but signing Lando Norris as a replacement.
According to the journalist Joe Saward, there’s some serious buzz in the paddock about Lando Norris potentially moving to the Scuderia Ferrari. However, this won’t happen until 2026, as McLaren insists that Norris will honor the full duration of his current contract.
Rumor has it that Carlos Sainz might be bidding arrivederci to the Prancing Horse. Apparently, Sainz could join Audi a year before their official F1 debut.
And let’s not forget about the Mercedes. They’ve got their sights set on none other than Charles Leclerc as the potential heir to Lewis Hamilton’s throne.