Sebastian Vettel’s retirement from F1 will trigger a scramble to fill one of the few vacant seats on the grid for 2023.
The four-time world champion has confirmed the 2022 season will be his last in the sport. In a statement on his newly-launched Instagram page, Vettel said a desire to spend more time with his family was behind the decision. He also highlighted his passion for the environment, having spoken out regularly on climate change in recent years.
Vettel has had a tough 18 months with Aston Martin since leaving Ferrari. But the Silverstone-based team has grand ambitions under billionaire owner Lawrence Stroll, who is likely to want a big name to partner his son Lance.
Here, Daily Star Sport looks at five potential candidates to fill the void left by Vettel's impending retirement…
READ MORE: Four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel announces upcoming retirement from racing
The future of the popular Australian has been a source of intrigue given his struggles at the McLaren, where he has been blown away by Lando Norris. Ricciardo is contracted to the Woking squad for next season and publicly declared his commitment to the team and F1 in general.
But there is reportedly a break clause in his contract which could see him leave at the end of 2022. Could Ricciardo and McLaren come to a mutual arrangement which would allow him to join another team?
After all, Aston Martin wanted Vettel to stay on and would have continued paying him a hefty salary to do so. Those wages could be transferred to Ricciardo’s bank account. Stranger things have happened in F1.
F1’s top ‘super sub’, Hulkenberg has already replaced Vettel this season when his fellow German tested positive for Covid and was forced to miss the first two races.
Hulkenberg has strong ties with the Silverstone-based squad and would slot back in easily having raced for the team in its previous guises of Force India and Racing Point. However, the likeable German, now 34-year-old, may not be a big enough name for Stroll senior.
Speaking of big names, they don’t come much bigger than Alonso. The Spanish legend is in the second year of his comeback and is keen to race on.
He is widely expected to stay on with Alpine for 2023, although that has not been confirmed. It is thought Alonso wants a new two-year deal while Alpine favour one year, which could be a ploy to keep their highly-rated reserve driver Oscar Piastri and his management happy. If Alonso and Alpine can’t agree terms, Stroll could sweep in and give the 40-year-old what he wants.
Who would you like to see replace Vettel at Aston Martin? Have your say in the comments section below.
Widely regarded as a best driver not on the F1 grid, it would be a travesty if the Formula 2 champion doesn’t land a drive for 2023. He is an Alpine-contracted driver but the presence of Alonso mean there may not be a place for him in the Renault-backed team next year.
Piastri has been linked with Williams and then McLaren amid the doubts over Ricciardo’s future. It would be no surprise if his manager, ex-F1 driver Mark Webber, put the feelers out to Aston Martin too.
A left-field suggestion, but there has been tension between Schumacher and his current team, Haas, this season. First, it was related to Schumacher’s habit of crashing heavily and saddling the team with hefty repair bills.
Schumacher seems to have got on top of his problems and is proving a match for experienced teammate Kevin Magnussen. But there was a flare-up during the sprint race at the Austrian Grand Prix when Haas refused to let Schumacher overtake his teammate and he was subsequently driven past by Lewis Hamilton.
There would also be poignant symmetry to him joining the Silverstone team as it was where – in its original form as Jordan – his father Michael launched his F1 career before being quickly poached by Benetton in 1991. Ferrari will have a say over Schumacher's future as he remains a member of their driver academy.
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