Five non-F1 drivers are desperate to claim a place on the F1 grid

For many, F1 is truly the pinnacle of motorsport. Achieving a full-time F1 position can be life-changing for drivers and is a goal for so many karting kids across the planet. To be considered one of the top 20 drivers in the world is a huge achievement.

While the 2023 summer break hasn’t been as “silly” as previous years in terms of driver swaps and contract disputes, there will certainly be some drivers who fear keeping their drive for 2024. We previously looked at five drivers who will could be in danger of losing their place – let’s look at five who may be waiting patiently in the wings to take their place.

Alex Palou

Alex Palou has been a household name in the Formula 1 paddock and the wider world of motorsport for some time now. The 2021 Indycar champion has pedigree, taking eight race wins in his three years in the sport, and this time he’s leading the championship again.

The 26-year-old was at the center of a contract dispute in July 2022 when the Chip Ganassi Racing team said he would drive for them in 2023. Palu denied this and it was announced that he had joined McLaren’s driver roster – however he was not unclear if this was for McLaren’s IndyCar team.

Two months later it was settled and agreed that Palou would continue with Chip Ganassi for 2023 before signing for McLaren for 2024, becoming a test and reserve driver for the McLaren F1 team, even in an FP1 session at the Circuit of the Americas.

The issue has arisen once again this summer, however, as he will not honor his McLaren contract for 2024. What this means for the world of F1 is that one of IndyCar’s hottest talents is no longer attached with no rival organization and therefore could be available if they desired his services.

While Palou is Spanish, could an IndyCar champion be interested in the American Haas team? Kevin Magnussen has not performed so far in 2023 and is out of contract until next year. Palu would have both age and seemingly pace on his side compared to the Dane, and could bring huge trade value to Gene Haas’s team if the Americans become even more interested as a result.

The AlphaTauri seat currently occupied by Daniel Ricciardo could also be vacant in 2024, however there may be another better prospect for this opportunity…

Liam Lawson

Still only 21, Liam Lawson has claimed a place in Formula 1 in several different series – most recently, Japanese Super Formula.

The Kiwi has built on an impressive 2022 F2 season that saw him finish third in the standings to show some real pace in Super Formula, taking three race wins in just six appearances so far. He adds to his ever-growing experience in single-seaters alongside a superb 2021 DTM season in which he finished just three points off the championship.

A Red Bull Junior driver since 2019, Lawson has taken part in a number of free practice sessions and tests for AlphaTauri and Red Bull, and has been a reserve driver for both teams since last season.

When Nyck De Vries was relieved of his duties earlier this season, Lawson was a name thrown around in the paddock for someone who could take his place. It was Ricciardo who was awarded the seat, however the 31-year-old does not fit the typical mold of the younger drivers usually at the Red Bull Sister Team.

As a result, Ricciardo may still not be with the team after the end of 2023 – whether by his own decision or not. Then Lawson would surely be in pole position for the position, given that none of his other young peers are making more of a statement after the summer break.

Theo Pourchaire

Currently leading the F2 Championship, aged just 19, Theo Pourchaire has shown that he has the pace and talent to deserve a place in the top flight.

The Frenchman is also a member of Sauber’s Driver Academy, meaning he should be well placed for a smooth transition to the Formula 1 team. However, as things stand, that may not be that simple.

Neither Guanyu Zhou nor Valtteri Bottas have made much of an impression for Alfa Romeo this season, although their package hasn’t been great either. With Bottas locked up until at least the end of 2024, the team is in a conundrum over Zhou, whose contract expires at the end of this season.

China’s only F1 driver was linked with a new deal at the start of the summer break, however that rumor seems to have died down as time went on. The question arises whether Andreas Seidl et al. they are turning their attention to Pourchaire, who is a talent they certainly wouldn’t want to miss.

Antonio Giovinazzi

While Giovinazzi lost his seat at Alfa Romeo in 2021, his win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Ferrari this year has re-established himself among the top names in motorsport.

At 29, it is likely now or never for the Italian to return to Formula 1, with younger and perhaps faster drivers such as Lawson and Pourchaire also looking for places. However, he has his Ferrari team on his side.

While it’s unlikely we’ll ever see Giovinazzi in a full-time F1 position at the Scuderia, they may feel they should have a say in other teams – namely, those they provide power units for.

That’s when we turn our attention back to Haas. As mentioned, Magnussen is not performing to his full potential and Giovinazzi tested the outfit last season before Nico Hulkenberg was given the car for 2023. While Hulkenberg has proven his worth, the other seat could really be up for grabs and Gunther Steiner could be tempted by the idea of ​​keeping the engine supplier happy while also bringing in a driver who looks at the top of his game.

Mick Schumacher

Perhaps the most unlikely on the list to have a shot at a position for 2024, Mick Schumacher will not give up on reaching the pinnacle of motorsport again.

After two disappointing years with Haas, the seven-time World Champion’s son Michael was without a seat until 2023. Mick never really reached the levels he showed when he won the 2020 F2 Championship and was under huge pressure as a result of his last name.

It’s likely that many would struggle with Schumacher’s circumstances at Haas, however, given that the car wasn’t fantastic and wasn’t fully developed in its first season in 2021. Now, it’s in the hands of Toto Wolff and Mercedes, where it serves as a backup. their guide.

Similar to Giovinazzi’s situation, Schumacher could hope that his team’s position as an engine supplier could benefit him in the future. One team they provide a power unit for is Williams and they may offer him the best chance at a position.

While Alex Albon has been impressive this season, rookie Logan Sargeant has yet to find the same form. The American has shown flashes, however, and comes with strong trade values.

If Sargeant can find more tenths in the second half of the season and more importantly earn his first points, it is likely that his place will be safe for at least another year. However, if he backs down and fails, Schumacher is probably the best to take his place.

Mercedes also has a history of putting its junior drivers in positions – Esteban Ocon similarly took a year out from the sport before Wolff helped him join Renault in 2020, while George Russell was a top-of-the-line Williams team as a junior Mercedes driver. It could be in the German team’s best interest to bring Schumacher back to the grid, given that Lewis Hamilton will surely retire in the next five years.

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