Sunday might be Belgium GP day, but Monday’s meeting of the contract recognition board in Geneva could be high octane fuel for the 2023 ‘silly season’.
If, as is now expected, the FIA’s contract disputes process clears the path for Oscar Piastri to dump Alpine and head to McLaren, the next dominoes should fall shortly afterwards.
Mick Schumacher is now being regularly linked with the vacant cockpit at Alpine, with Haas to potentially then be the next destination for McLaren refugee Daniel Ricciardo.
“Do we take a risk with a new driver like Daniel Ricciardo who has had a difficult time at McLaren, or do we stick with what we know?” Haas boss Gunther Steiner told Auto Bild.
“And who says Mick is going, anyway? That’s what the media says, not me. I say everything is open.”
A new rumour in the Spa-Francorchamps paddock is that Alpine might be trying to extract Pierre Gasly from his Red Bull contract – which would then open up a potential seat for Schumacher at Alpha Tauri.
When asked about that rumour in Belgium, 23-year-old Schumacher laughed: “My rumour is that I’m racing tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.”
As the German is linked with Alpine and Alpha Tauri, however, the implication is that Haas is scouring the driver market and Schumacher is also on the move.
“If he wants to go, so be it,” said Steiner. “Then it will be our fault and we will find another solution.
“At the moment it is my job to think about who is better, and that’s not easy. Ricciardo could be better if he gets back to his old form.”
Steiner admits that he exchanged some “texts” with the 33-year-old Australian at the tail end of the August break.
“Hulkenberg would be a risk, Ricciardo would be a risk,” Steiner said. “Everyone is a risk except Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen.
“What I do agree with you about is that Mick is the smallest risk. But that doesn’t mean we want to take the smallest risk.
“If Mick drives the next three races like he did in Spielberg, the decision will be automatic.”