May 24, 2024

F1 2023 silly season rumor tracker

We have reached the most fascinating part of the Formula 1 calendar.

“Silly season.”

With the teams on hiatus until the end of August, the days and weeks ahead will be filled with rampant speculation about driver lineups, new contracts, team principals moving, and more personnel decisions.

In an effort to keep you updated throughout silly season, we’ll be tracking all the rumors for you right here.

Two new teams coming to F1?

In an interview with German outlet Motorsport-Total, FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem seemed to make the case for not one, but two new teams on the grid.

The FIA is currently reviewing applications for potential new teams under an Expressions of Interest process.

“We have a contract [with Formula 1] that says that we can have up to twelve teams. We don’t break any rules, on the contrary, we follow the rules exactly,” said Sulayem.

Sulayem has previously outlined his support for the Andretti-Cadillac bid, but in his interview with Motorsport-Total he raised for the first time his hopes for a team from China.

“[My dream is to have a] manufacturing team from the USA and a manufacturing team from China. There are 1.4 billion people in China. Over 50 percent of the electric cars on the road come from China. That’s a fact. China is a big market,” said Sulayem.

“When it comes to electromobility and hybrids, the Chinese get serious. And I think the new power units for 2026 were the right decision,” he added. “If we hadn’t done that, would Audi have come too? That only happened when we passed the new power unit rules and got them approved by all teams.”

Ferrari to have a ‘clean slate’ for their 2024 challenger

August 4 According to Motorsport, Ferrari has begun work on their 2024 challenger.

And it will be rather different than this year’s SF-23.

The vision, with a working title “Project Code 676” reportedly, “will be born from a blank sheet.” This will also be the first Ferrari design under the stewardship of Frederic Vasseur, as the design for the SF-23 came together under then-Team Principal Mattia Binotto.

Expect it to look a lot like the RB19.

“The new Ferrari will abandon the concept of the belly pit that has characterized the ground effect single-seaters of the latest generation, to convert to ideas closer to those developed by Adrian Newey on the infamous RB19, the F1 capable of dominating the 2023 season from the first GP,” reported Motorsport.

Who’s the Boss?

August 3 — Are you ready for Hugo Boss Bulls Racing?

AlphaTauri is set for a rebrand, as outlined recently by Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko. A new lead sponsor is expected to be part of that process, and according to reports, the leaders in that race?

Hugo Boss.

The clothing line is not the only company in the running as Orlen, an oil company that is already one of the team’s sponsors, is in talks to become the lead sponsor. But Hugo Boss is considered to be the “front runner.”

Could the RB19 return next year?

August 3 — Might the RB19 be back on the grid next season?

Red Bull’s 2023 challenger has been the dominant force this season, and while Team Principal Christian Horner recently indicated the team is already working on their 2024 challenger, rumors out of Belgium during the Belgian Grand Prix indicate that the RB19 could return next year.

Just with AlphaTauri … or I guess Hugo Boss Bulls Racing if the previous rumor is to be believed.

Speaking on the latest installment of the Sky Sports F1 Podcast, David Croft walked through the reasons he is keenly interested in AlphaTauri’s future, from Yuki Tsunoda to Daniel Ricciardo, incoming Team Principal Laurent Mekies, and more. But he also shared that a rumor working through the paddock at Spa was that that team — whether AlphaTauri, Hugo Boss Bulls Racing, or something else — might run the RB19 next season.

“But does Danny Ricardo want to be racing really for AlphaTauri next year? Potentially, if AlphaTauri is a much better car,” said Croft. “And there are lots of reports that the plan is under whatever name they’re going to be, maybe Toro Rosso once again, that they run this year’s Red Bull next year.”

Croft also pointed out that it has happened before, but it could have drawbacks.

“Which has happened before. Super Aguri ran a year-old Honda for instance. It works at the start of the season and you’d quickly get out-developed,” added Croft.

“But it would definitely work for AlphaTauri. But that’s just the paddock rumour.”

Marko: Ricciardo could be an option for Red Bull, but not yet

August 3 – Marko is never shy about expressing his opinions, and in an interview with Austrian outlet Kleine Zeitung, Marko indicated that Daniel Ricciardo could be an option for Red Bull.

But not while Sergio Pérez is still under contract.

“If Ricciardo presents himself well, he could certainly be an issue for Red Bull Racing in the future,” said Marko. “But that will certainly only be possible after the end of the 2024 season, when Perez’s contract expires.”

Michael Andretti “optimistic” about Andretti-Cadillac bid

August 3 – Speaking with German outlet Speedweek, Michael Andretti talked about the Andretti-Cadillac bid for entry on the F1 grid. The former driver remains convinced that the FIA will look favorably on their move to join the sport.

“I’m optimistic about that. I hope that the FIA ​​will clarify this in the next few weeks. In any case, we are preparing at full speed,” said Andretti. “We currently have 25 employees, and the number is constantly growing.”

When the Andretti-Cadillac bid was announced Andretti stressed the “All-American” nature of the bid to media, including SB Nation. He reiterated that position with Speedweek. “Everything is on schedule with the construction of the new headquarters in Fishers, Indiana. We hope to move there from our old base by the end of 2024. The investment is really big,” said Andretti to Speedweek. “We not only want to settle the North American projects there, but also our Formula 1 team. Our first car will be built in Europe, but then in Indiana. We’re going to have the first US-built Formula 1 car.”

Sergio Pérez safe … for now?

August 1 — Over the past few weeks, the F1 driver under the most pressure was Nyck de Vries, who was eventually sacked by AlphaTauri and replaced by Daniel Ricciardo.

But just behind De Vries? Sergio Pérez at Red Bull. Some qualifying struggles had ramped up the pressure on Red Bull’s number two, leading to speculation that he too was on a hot seat.

Pérez has recently returned to form, scoring back-to-back podiums in Hungary and at Spa. That has led some to believe that the driver is safe, at least for now. F1 journalist Joe Saward’s meaty recap of the Belgian Grand Prix — Saward’s post-race stories are a must-read each time — outlines that given how Pérez has rebounded, coupled with how Max Verstappen could win the team a Constructors’ title on his own, makes it likely that the team decides not to make a change before the 2024 season.

But Pérez, who is under contract through 2024, could still make a change next season should he falter anew.

The hot driver is … Nico Hülkenberg?

August 1 — The first half of the season saw mixed results from Haas. The team continually showed strong one-lap pace on Saturdays, but race pace has been a different story.

The most impressive of their two drivers has been Nico Hülkenberg, who has advanced to Q3 six times this season and stunned the grid in Canada with his incredible P2 in qualifying. He was eventually dropped to fifth after a three-place grid penalty, but it was a massive performance for the driver, and the team.

His success in his return season has opened the door to speculation about his future. He was spotted walking into Red Bull’s paddock ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, leading to murmurs about a potential move to Red Bull in the future, and former driver Timo Glock speculated this week about how a move to Aston Martin could be in his future.

“I think he will still be driving with Haas next year because there is no other option,” said Glock to Speedweek. “After that, I’m sure that the teams have him on the radar, for example, Aston Martin. Mike Krack saw what Nico Hülkenberg can do in the car without any preparation and how he drives at the moment. He’s definitely on the list and I trust him to be able to show everything in a top team.”

Charles Leclerc to extend his deal with Ferrari?

August 1 — One of the first rumors to surface this silly season involves Charles Leclerc, and his future with the Scuderia. According to Funo Analisi Tecnica Leclerc, who is under contract with Ferrari through the 2024 season, is approaching a new two-year deal with the team, with an option for three additional years.

This “2+3” deal would keep him with Ferrari through at least the 2026 season, and potentially through 2029.

Carlos Sainz Jr. to reunite with Mattia Binotto at Alpine?

August 1 — The report from Funo Analisi Tecnica does not stop with Leclerc.

It continues to speculate about his teammate, Carlos Sainz Jr. According to Funo Analisi Tecnica, Sainz is hoping to receive the same “2+3” deal from Ferrari. Sainz is currently under contract with the Prancing Horse through the 2024 season, just like Leclerc.

However, reports are that the team and Sainz are yet to come to terms on such a deal, which has Sainz’s representation looking for leverage.

Leading to Alpine.

As has been well-documented, change is in the air at Alpine. New partners, new faces, and perhaps a new driver lineup in the future? Both Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly are under deals that expire at the end of 2024, and Funo Analisi Tecnica believes that Alpine is looking to “mature” in the seasons ahead. That would me a move towards a veteran driver (Sainz), along with an experienced Team Principal.

Which is where Mattia Binotto could come into play.

Otmar Szafnauer headed to the States?

August 1 — Saward’s post-Belgium missive touches on a few other rumors, including those involving the Ferrari pair outlined above, but he also addresses the future for Otmar Szafnauer. Recently ousted as the Team Principal at Alpine, as part of that team’s ongoing restructuring, Szafnauer may not be out of work for long.

According to Saward, he might find a landing spot in the United States, as part of the Andretti-GM team looking to gain a spot on the grid. As Saward puts it, Szafnauer grew up in Detroit, and would make a lot of sense for an emerging F1 team:

It does not take long for speculation to begin in F1 and already there is talk of Otmar Szafnauer being likely to turn up with an American organisation bound for F1. This makes sense to some extent, as Szafnauer grew up in Detroit and before joining British American Racing back in 1998 he was employed for 12 years by the Ford Motor Company, running its US motorsport programmes. Rival GM might also benefit from someone who knows F1 inside out as the current F1 project is under the leadership of Dr Eric Warren, who has a background in NASCAR where he was employed by Richard Childress Racing Richard Petty Motorsport, Ray Evernham, Michael Waltrip and Penske with only one limited spell in open-wheeler racing in 2009 when he spent some time as head of aerodynamics at US F1, the team that made a lot of noise but never happened.

On that front, the application review process for prospective F1 teams was expected to run through July, so we may hear news in the coming days regarding a decision.

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