Formula 1 returns next weekend with the Belgian Grand Prix. We’ll have a full preview with betting predictions for Formula 1’s return from summer break. While it has been quiet on the western front of the driver market after an explosive start, Formula 1 and the FIA have been busy finalizing changes to the 2022-23 technical regulations and the 2025-2026 Power Unit Regulations. In this article, we will address the silent but unsettled driver market and explain how significant the Power Unit changes will be for Formula 1.
All Quiet on the Driver Market
After an explosive start a few hours into the summer break, the Formula 1 driver market has gone silent. The Alpine/Oscar Piastri situation is yet to be adjudicated. McLaren is in contractual limbo with Piastri, Alex Palou – who is being sued by Chip Ganassi Racing, and Daniel Ricciardo. If McLaren has a contract with Piastri, then it’s likely that McLaren is likely working on a “soft landing” for Ricciardo. The soft landing is negotiating a separation and allowing Ricciardo to solidify his plans for the upcoming racing year. We still think a return to Alpine/Renault is the likely destination for Ricciardo rather than retirement.
This is similar to the “soft landing” that Mercedes worked on with Valtteri Bottas last season after internally choosing George Russel to replace Bottas before the summer break.
Mick Schumacher and Zhou Guanyu have not been confirmed to return to Haas and Alfa Romero, although that seems like the likely and right move for the drivers and teams. As for who will partner Albon at Williams: this is a wild card. We’ve said our goodbyes to Nicholas Latifi. Yet, he is still in the conversation along with Mercedes reserve Driver, former Formula E World Champion Nick De Vries, and Williams junior driver Logan Sargeant.
Expect official announcements from Belgium for all drivers in jeopardy and vacant seats in Formula 1.
New Power Unit Regulations and the Major Changes to Come
The ten Formula 1 teams and the FIA have agreed on changes for the 2022-23 technical regulations and finalized the Power Unit regulations for 2025-2026. The incoming changes will be the most significant power unit changes since introducing the 1.6L V6 Turbo Hybrid era in 2014. But the changes to the power unit regulations are not the most significant aspect of solidifying the power unit regulations.
Formula 1 and the FIA have opened the door for new engine manufacturers in 2025, installing a cost cap and development hours cap for the new power units (with additional time for new manufacturers). Alongside the removal of the expensive MGU-H, these new regulations are the conditions that Audi and Porsche required to join the Formula 1 grid. As widely reported a few weeks ago, a Red Bull Technologies and Porsche partnership announcement were imminent, barring these regulations’ announcement.
Audi has been interested in the Alfa Romero/Sauber for some time. Alfa Romero has regularly operated on one-year deals with Sauber for commercial benefits. Audi has ambitions of becoming an engine manufacturer and works team. These power unit regulations are the conditions Audi required to take the plunge and acquire the Sauber outfit.
These kinds of regulation and economic changes should open up the grid for new entries like the Andretti Motorsports and a potential twelfth team on the grid. The ten current Formula 1 teams are resistant to expanding their ranks due to having to split revenues further. With indexable cost caps, increased environmental sustainability, and surging popularity, surely there is enough money to expand the grid to twelve teams for the introduction of the 2025-2026 power unit regulations, right?
Are We There Yet?
For real, are we there yet? We’re entering the final week of summer break. One week before Formula 1 returns to one of the gems on the formula 1 Calendar – The Belgian Grand Prix from Circuit Spa-Francorchamps.