Fernando Alonso’s shock switch to Aston Martin for the 2023 F1 season has not only had repercussions on Alpine and McLaren, but also Williams… Where does the Grove outfit go from here?
Fernando Alonso leaving Alpine caught everyone off guard – including the French team itself.
His switch for next season has had a significant knock-on effect on the rest of the driver market.
Shortly after Alonso’s move was announced, Alpine announced the promotion of Oscar Piastri for 2023 alongside Esteban Ocon.
Piastri then posted on social media that he wouldn’t be driving for Alpine next year, stating that he had found a drive elsewhere, likely to be McLaren.
While Alpine, McLaren and Daniel Ricciardo have dominated the media headlines as a result of last week’s mayhem, one team that has been affected as a result is Williams.
It is understood that Alpine wanted to keep Alonso for one more year while placing Piastri at Williams alongside Alex Albon.
Alpine wanted to bed Piastri into F1 by placing him in a less competitive team, like Mercedes did with George Russell.
However, Alonso’s move to Aston Martin has changed everything, leading to knock-on effects up and down the paddock.
Williams needs to find a teammate for Albon – but who are the candidates?
Who will take the second Williams seat?
Current driver Nicholas Latifi remains a potential option.
The Canadian brings much-needed sponsorship to the team but he remains the only driver on the grid not to score a point this season.
Also, Latifi appears to have taken a step back in outright performance this year as he’s been dominated by Albon in the opening 13 races of 2022.
Williams have Logan Sargeant as part of their junior academy.
The American has impressed in F2, sitting third in the championship behind Felipe Drugovich (who has no F1 affiliation) and Theo Pourchaire (Sauber academy).
However, team boss Jost Capito has hinted that 2023 might be too early for Sargeant despite his impressive season for Carlin.
Reigning Formula E champion and current Mercedes reserve driver Nyck de Vries remains in the frame having been linked with Williams last year but Albon got the seat instead.
De Vries is looking to find a drive in a motorsport series next year as Mercedes are pulling out of Formula E.
An alternative option that would tick a lot of boxes for Williams would be Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu.
Not only does Zhou bring significant financial backing from China, he’s performed solidly during his rookie season.
Despite his minimal points total, in recent races, Zhou has run Valtteri Bottas close and would be an upgrade on Latifi.
More importantly, despite his lack of experience, Zhou hasn’t had too many shunts – something Latifi has done frequently over the past 12 months.
But, with Alfa Romeo significantly ahead of Williams in the F1 pecking order, it’s unlikely Zhou would want to switch unless he’s guaranteed a multi-year deal or Alfa opt to promote Pourchaire.
Whoever Williams put alongside Albon for 2023, it’s likely to be a downgrade on their first choice – Piastri.