A tweet by former Sauber driver, Marcus Ericsson, did the rounds on Twitter the day before Oscar Piastri was falsely announced as Fernando Alonso’s replacement at Alpine for the 2023 Formula 1 season.
To this day it still theoretically could all come true, as the latest twists in the F1 ‘silly season’ has been confirmed: Pierre Gasly will race for the French Alpine outfit next season, while Formula 2 and Formula E winner, Nyck de Vries, takes his vacant spot at AlphaTauri.
But who are the real winners and losers in these ‘silly season’ shenanigans? SportsByte takes a look at some of the teams – and drivers – to have benefitted at the expense of others in recent months.
To many there is no better place to look than McLaren, who have prised 2021 F2 winner, Oscar Piastri, away from what was otherwise an assured Alpine seat – with a few noticeable caveats – into the Woking outfit for 2023.
He replaces fellow Australian, Daniel Ricciardo, whose future currently remains unsettled. Whether he becomes a reserve driver, or seeks racing adventures in other series he is sure to be a loss to the grid.
But the way the negotiations were protracted beyond belief, the fact the Contract Recognition Board (CRB) had to intervene at the FIA and the feeling that Piastri will hit the ground running instantly convinces McLaren of a deserving winner’s place.
Of course the future is impossible to predict; who could have imagined Ricciardo’s spell to work out how it did when he took a Renault car to 5th in the drivers’ championship?
On paper McLaren’s pairing has the potential to delight fans for years to come but nothing is certain in Formula 1.
Loser: Daniel Ricciardo
Naturally the topic flows to the driver who is set to lost his multi-season contract (at the end of his two year initial spell) and perhaps a spot on the grid for next season.
Ricciardo himself has no suggestion as to what the future might hold as of writing, and it is uncertain whether the vacancy at Williams, nor a potential spot at Haas might be of interest.
For a driver who won in Monza last year, to give McLaren their first win in a decade, it is the end of a bittersweet period in the Honey Badger’s career.
There have been suggestions, too, he might appeal to Mercedes for instance for a reserve spot – as outgoing De Vries assumes the spot at AlphaTauri which needed to be filled.
When teams are looking for younger (and less experienced in Formula 1) talents rather than experienced race winners, it is hard to seem attractive in a pool of fledging pilots.
Winner: Nyck de Vries
Monza seemed a turning point in De Vries’ life as weeks later, he was confirmed to be replacing Pierre Gasly who left the Red Bull family after nine seasons.
Days before it was revealed Alex Albon would miss the race through appendicitis, the feeling among some on social media was negativity and to an extent, condescending in relation to De Vries.
At 27 years-of-age he is hardly the young talent some want in the sport, but he has around a decade give or take ahead of him to rack up along, for instance, the retiring Sebastian Vettel, who himself is only 35.
Eight seasons in the sport changes a lot – remember how different 2014 was from 2022? How different 2002 and 2010 was?
Regulations in all measures as well as team name changes, new championship winners and constructors changes the landscape beyond belief so it is harsh to force a narrative on De Vries at the earliest chance.
Seven drivers remain on today’s grid from 2014 and nine teams from 11. De Vries if he proves himself a capable racer might be a mainstay on the grid for years to come, and he still will be a socially acceptable age to race.
Thankfully fans appear to be more receptive to the opportunity now he has shown a glimpse of skill in Albon’s car, and he will hope to take that with him to what hopes to be a midfield lineup with Yuki Tsunoda next season.
Loser: Alpine… initially
The initial flurry to confirm Piastri as Alonso’s replacement at the Enstone outfit came at the cost of checking whether he had agreed to sign a legal contract – let alone any contract – in the first place.
Alpine looked a mess at that point in time, with the CRB only confirming what many fans had speculated.
Laurent Rossi, who is CEO of Alpine, has stated on the record he felt Piastri showed little loyalty and respect for the team which had partly funded his development, into making him one of F1’s most prepared rookies.
But they have sinced sought out Frenchman, Pierre Gasly, to partner childhood friend Esteban Ocon for next season which seems a sensible appointment.
Gasly has shown himself a capable driver for the most part in AlphaTauri, while understanding and learning from his experiences at Red Bull which has shaped the driver and person he is now.
While some fans may speculate whether the relationship with fellow Frenchman, Ocon, will reignite sparks of contempt as some believed in the past, others are hoping it is a chance for the two to settle any past differences and focus on the task ahead.
F1 is a team sport, and representing the French team with two drivers under the tricolore is the greatest honour for Alpine, who remain proud of their Renault heritage.
Who do you think has been the winners and losers from 2022’s F1 ‘silly season?’ Let SportsByte know on Twitter (@Sports_Byte) or Facebook (SportsByte).