So how can Webber take Piastri to McLaren if the youngster has an Alpine contract? This is another big question, and word is it’s one that Alpine management has also been asking in recent days.

It looks like it might get a little messy in the coming weeks and days while everything is sorted out. Was there a scenario where Piastri could walk if there was no Alpine seat in 2023, but now suddenly there is?

Ironically, in the US McLaren are linked with legal action against Alex Palou, who signed for the team when Chip Ganassi Racing thought he was theirs until 2023…

A source suggested Briatore might be pulling some strings. The Italian was very present in the Paul Ricard paddock, starting out in motorhomes. As reported, he is Alonso’s manager and reportedly completed the Lawrence Stroll deal.

But also consider that he’s always had a close relationship with Webber, another of his proteges, and one would assume he might be somewhere in the background, at the very least aware of what’s going on with Piastri. .

Flavio Briatore (right) with FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali on the Austrian GP grid

Antonin Vincent / DPPI

All of this has turned the driver market upside down. Being in a tough three-to-two position, it looks like Alpine currently only have one driver in Esteban Ocon, and if Piastri doesn’t get in place the team will have to look elsewhere.

Would management take Ricciardo back after he left for the big bucks at McLaren – then struggled to match Norris? Anything is possible, as we have seen.

Albon’s name has also been mentioned as a potential Alpine favourite, someone who would fit in easily alongside Ocon. However, messages are mixed on whether Albon is a free agent for 2023, with some saying Williams can take an option and keep him from leaving.

With the deal with Piastri ending, the Grove team will need a driver to replace Nicholas Latifi, who appears to have overstayed his welcome, despite his sound sponsorship deal. De Vries, who has already hosted an FP1 session for the team and is associated with PU supplier Mercedes, tops the list.

The team’s American protege Logan Sergeant is doing well in F2, but the consensus is that 2023 will be too soon.


Williams could have a whole new line-up for 2023 if Albon and Latifi go elsewhere

Getty Images

Another driver potentially on the market is Schumacher. For all its high PR value, the word from camp is that a change is desired at Haas, and that leaves the German looking for a seat. Vettel wanted him to go to Aston, but that door closed.

One suggestion I heard today is that Helmut Marko has a thing for Mick and he might end up at AlphaTauri instead of Yuki Tsunoda.

It sounds a bit far-fetched, but Porsche is coming to the Red Bull group, and it would be a great name to have in camp. He could also suit Williams, if his compatriot Jost Capito wants him.

If Schumacher is absent, Haas will have to look for another driver. This seat belongs to Ferrari for a Maranello approved driver. While Robert Shwartzman leads the FP1s for the factory team this season and looks to be next in line, he doesn’t seem to have done enough to be promoted to a racing seat. That leaves former Alfa driver Antonio Giovinazzi potentially in line for an unlikely return to the grid.

One thing is certain: a few crew chiefs, drivers and driver managers might have a busier summer break than they had anticipated…