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Gasly contract extension gives McLaren few options other than Ricciardo

Gasly contract extension gives McLaren few options other than Ricciardo

24 June - 12:46 Last update: 16:37
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Pierre Gasly will stay on at AlphaTauri for another season and that means an end to the many rumours for next season. The Frenchman has been linked with several teams since Sergio Perez's contract extension at Red Bull Racing. What does Gasly's contract mean for McLaren, where Gasly was mentioned as a possible replacement for Daniel Ricciardo?

Good news for Ricciardo?

With Perez keeping the seats at Red Bull filled with Max Verstappen for the next few years, that definitely means no new chance for Gasly at the top team. It didn't take long to find out where the AlphaTauri driver could go. His ambitions are much higher than what seems possible at Red Bull's sister team. Alpine seemed a logical choice, but Mercedes could also be interested in Gasly should Lewis Hamilton give up. Finally, McLaren was also mentioned, where Gasly could replace Daniel Ricciardo.

As is often the case with rumours in the Formula 1 world, nothing came of it. Gasly will stay with his current team for another year. This seems immediately good news for Ricciardo, because apart from Gasly, the English team has few good options left to replace Ricciardo with a driver who can achieve at least the same level.

What other options does McLaren have?

Should McLaren choose to end the contract with Ricciardo prematurely, there are at least two possible rookies available for next season. Jehan Daruvala is one of them. The Indian driver got his first F1 experience in a McLaren at Silverstone last Tuesday and Wednesday. Daruvala is currently racing in Formula 2 and is third in the championship. The Indian is under contract to Red Bull Racing as part of their junior programme, but with Red Bull also having Dennis Hauger and Liam Lawson at their disposal, they might just let him go to McLaren.

Another driver who has been linked with a Formula 1 seat at McLaren is Pato O'Ward. The Mexican driver was already allowed to sit in the McLaren for a test day. O'Ward was already champion in the Indy Lights and is currently fourth in the IndyCar championship. Last year he finished third with two victories.

Return of Alonso?

Another name more often mentioned in the same breath as McLaren is Fernando Alonso. The two-time World Champion also drove for McLaren in 2007 and from 2015 to 2018 and would be quite open to a third spell with the team. The Spaniard currently drives for Alpine, but has not yet been officially confirmed for 2023. Still, it seems the most logical choice for Alonso to stay with the ever-improving Alpine.

It is therefore not likely that Alonso will make a switch to McLaren next season and also O'Ward and Daruvala do not seem a logical choice and too big a risk for McLaren to replace Ricciardo. Gasly's contract extension could therefore be good news for Ricciardo, who is likely to get an extra season to regain his top form.

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