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How is Silly Season 2021 shaping up?

The Emilia Romagna GP. Credits: Daimler.

Almost halfway through the calendar year, there are still ten F1 seats up for grabs. Who is in the running to potentially steal a seat on the 2022 grid?

Despite being only a third of the way through the season, we are already almost halfway through the year. It’s time the formula 1 silly season begins to gain traction, so we took a dive into the news and rumors as to who will go where in 2022. With the next season comes a big shakeup, as F1’s new aerodynamic regulations come into effect, greatly

Teams with both drivers confirmed:

Ten drivers have already been confirmed for 2022. Of these, three teams have confirmed both drivers for next year.

Ferrari will continue with the dynamic duo of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. Leclerc is signed to Ferrari until the close of 2024, with Sainz confirmed until at least the end of next year. The team hopes for stability as they continue to recover from their dismal 2020.

McLaren also has a full line-up for next year, continuing with the comedic pair of Daniel Riccardo and Lando Norris. Both drivers are signed on for multi-year deals, with the pair likely to spent a great deal of time as teammates.

McLaren has no plans to change its driver line up. Image Credits: Mclaren via Twitter

The third and final team with a confirmed line-up is the backmarker Haas team. 2020 Formula 2 champion Mick Schumacher is on a multi-year deal with the team, with a move to Ferrari in the medium-term future on the cards. Controversial driver Nikita Mazepin is also to drive for the American team in 2022, as his father Dmitry is a major backer of the team.

Teams with one driver confirmed:

Following on from this, four teams have confirmed at least one driver for next year, with the second seat under question.

Aston Martin will continue their relationship with Sebastian Vettel into next year. The second seat is currently officially vacant, though it is highly likely that Lance Stroll will continue with the team, given his father is the owner of the organization.

Alpine has Fernando Alonso contracted until at least the end of 2022, as part of a comeback with the team he won two titles for. The second seat is currently unconfirmed, however, the team has expressed their desire to keep Esteban Ocon for next year. Pierre Gasly was also briefly in the frame, but those rumors seem to have fizzled out. If Ocon doesn’t end up staying, a case could be made for Guanyu Zhou and Oscar Piastri too.

Now is where things get a bit more exciting. The previous five teams have either two drivers signed, or one driver signed with another highly likely to do so. The next five teams have question marks over their drivers.

The first is Red Bull. Max Verstappen is known to be staying for the next few years, but the second seat has one or two question marks on it. After his recent performances, Sergio Perez is looking increasingly likely to remain with the team. However, depending on the development and performance of Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda, and a few F2 drivers, he will need to keep up those performances to avoid being shoved aside.

Sergio Perez has put in some stunning performances recently. Credits: Red Bull Contend Pool.

The final team with one driver confirmed is Williams. Nicholas Latifi will drive for the team in 2022, and it looks likely he may be bumped to team leader status. George Russell looks very likely to leave the team, especially given recent comments by those within it.

Who might fill the shoes of Russell should he go? There are three viable options: Jack Aitken, Roy Nissany, and Dan Ticktum. Given Nissany’s record in Formula 2, he is unlikely to get the required super license, meaning it bubbles down to Aitken and Ticktum. Given his recent performances in Formula 2, including a win in Monaco’s second sprint race and a number of daring drives through the field, an educated guess could be made that Ticktum would fill the void left by Russell. Not bad for someone who was banned from racing for dangerous driving.

Teams with no driver confirmed:

There are three teams on the grid with no drivers confirmed for 2022. Mercedes, Alfa Romeo and Alpha Tauri.

We’ll start with Alfa Romeo. It seems likely that either Kimi Raikkonen or Antonio Giovanazzi will stay, but not both. It could go either way, Raikkonen is enjoying life in Alfa and is still competitive, while age is on the side of Giovanazzi. The other seat will likely be taken by either Callum Ilott or Robert Shwartzman.

Both are in the Ferrari Driver Academy, and whoever doesn’t get the seat will likely be a test and reserve driver. Whoever doesn’t make it, would likely move up in 2023, to replace whichever current driver stays for next year. Simply due to his experience, Raikkonen may just stay in F1 for one more year, with Ilott marginally more likely to sit alongside.

Could this man drive in F1 next year? Image Credits: Alfa Romeo

Alpha Tauri is arguably the team with the widest array of drivers to choose from. Tsunoda will likely continue into 2022, but unfortunately, Gasly looks to be under pressure to find a drive elsewhere in F1, as three Red Bull Junior drivers are in the top eight in Formula 2, with Jack Doohan looking competitive in F3 as well. Gasly may have some serious persuading to do, or else one of the three F2 drivers could boot him out of a drive.

If he continues his superb form in Baku, Estonia’s Juri Vips may very well become the first F1 driver from the Baltic nation. Sitting fourth in the title, he is a full 20 points ahead of the next highest Red Bull Junior, Jehan Daruvala, and only 15 points off the title lead. Liam Lawson sits eighth, three points off Daruvala.

Then comes the team every F1 fan is eyeing closely, Mercedes. They could well be the only team to enter 2022 with a completely new line-up, depending on how things go. It looks reasonably likely that Lewis Hamilton will stay with the three-pointed star for at least 2022, as he feels rejuvenated thanks to the brilliant battle between him and Red Bull’s Verstappen.

The second seat though is completely up in the air. Over recent weeks, it seems as though the relationship between Valtteri Bottas and the team has turned very frosty, and it looks as though either Bottas will leave, or Mercedes will push him out. Considering the finger-pointing from Mercedes, I think the former might be a possibility.

Who could take that seat? Well, Mr. George Russell of course. The rumors are only getting stronger with each passing day, and with the new regulations for next year, what could be a better time for Toto Wolff to put the young Brit in the second Mercedes, under the guiding wing of Hamilton for a year, before ushering in the next generation of the UK at the pinnacle of motorsport.

Who will drive this car in 2022? Image Credits: Daimler Media

Given current rumors and links, lets have a look in table format how F1 2022 could look:

MERCEDESL. Hamilton(?)G. Russell(?)
RED BULLM. VerstappenS. Perez(?)
FERRARIC. Leclerc C. Sainz
MCLAREN D. RicciardoL. Norris
ASTON MARTINS. VettelL. Stroll
ALPINEF. AlonsoE. Ocon(?)
ALPHA TAURIY. Tsunoda(?)J. Vips(?)
ALFA ROMEOK. Raikkonen(?)C. Ilott(?)
WILLIAMSN. LatifiD. Ticktum(?)
HAASM. SchumacherN. Mazepin

Of course, there are still six whole months for contracts to be played with. Anything could happen between now and then, but the most up-to-date gossip seems to point in the direction of a mildly shaken up, but still very steady F1 grid for 2022.

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