Before Formula 1 moves on to the next world championship round in Singapore, all eyes will be on Hungary.
That’s where, at the Hungaroring, Alpine will conduct a private test with a year-old car to assess an impressive shortlist of contenders to replace Fernando Alonso in 2023.
The latest to join the action is Mick Schumacher – with his current team Haas said to be closing in on a 2023 deal with 35-year-old Nico Hulkenberg, who for the past period has been on sabbatical.
“I think he’s a candidate because he has a super license, he has driven in Formula 1 before and he has experience,” said team boss Gunther Steiner when asked about Hulkenberg.
Schumacher, 23, also appears to have lost the backing of Ferrari’s ‘academy’ – with Russian Robert Shwartzman the new darling of the Maranello based team’s development program.
“Robert is a fantastic driver,” said Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto at Monza. “I think he’s very fast, especially in an F1 car.
“So it’s a shame for him not having a seat at the moment.”
Former F1 driver Timo Glock thinks Binotto is seizing the moment to move on from Ferrari’s investments in Schumacher.
“I don’t think he ever believed in Mick, and the lack of commitment on his part now suggests that the collaboration will end at the end of the year.
“The question is where Mick will end up after that.”
Schumacher, however, faces stiff competition for the Alpine seat, as also in action in Hungary will be Jack Doohan, Colton Herta, and Nyck de Vries.
Indycar star Herta, however, is reportedly only running because Alpine’s preferred pick for the 2023 seat – Pierre Gasly – needs to secure a release from his Alpha Tauri duties.
That is only possible if Herta is granted an F1 super license, which at present appears unlikely.
“We were assured that Colton will complete a test with Alpine in Hungary,” confirmed Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko.
“After that we should have a decision.”
Another key vacancy for the 2023 season is at Williams, where de Vries, Schumacher and others are in the running to replace Canadian Nicholas Latifi.
“Nicholas hasn’t got the pace he needs to stay in that position in Formula 1,” said 1996 world champion Damon Hill.
Hill’s 1996 teammate at Williams, Jacques Villeneuve, agrees that Latifi has been “blown away” at the Grove based team not only by Alex Albon this year, but also by de Vries on his Formula 1 debut at Monza.
“If I were the Williams boss, I would give Nyck the chance. He deserves it,” Villeneuve told the Dutch publication Formule 1.
“Or maybe Alpine? He is fast and good in difficult situations, so why not?”