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Five times Formula 1 drivers' contracts were terminated early

Only two days ago McLaren announced that they will not be retaining Daniel Ricciardo for the 2023 Formula 1 season, despite the Aussie being contracted to drive for the Woking team for his third and final year of his contract.


What seems like a rarity is actually not too uncommon in the crazy world of Formula 1. This list will explore five other occasions where drivers contracts were terminated early for a variety of reasons.


Alain Prost - Parting ways with Renault due to deteriorating relationship

After making his Formula 1 debut with McLaren in 1980, Alain Prost decided to make the move to Renault for the following season.


Despite serving from 1981-1983 for the team competing under his home nation's flag, Prost was also contractually obliged to race for Renault in 1984 as well.


However, his relationship with the team was deteriorating due to issues behind-the-scenes and negative comments that both sides made to the media about the other.


At the end of the 1983 season, Prost returned to McLaren where he would go on to win three of his four world championships.


Kimi Raikkonen - Dropped by Ferrari in favour of Fernando Alonso

Kimi Raikkonen had what many would describe as a 'dream start' with Ferrari. In 2007, the Finnish driver won his first and only World Championship title with the Scuderia, which remains the most recent Drivers' Championship title Ferrari have won to this date.


However, Raikkonen's following seasons weren't the same fairytale. Despite winning the constructors championship in 2008, Raikkonen was beaten by his teammate Felipe Massa and came third in the drivers' standings.


The 2009 season was even worse for Kimi with Ferrari coming 4th in the constructors championship and himself finishing 6th in the driver's championship.


The championship victory of 2007 wasn't enough for Ferrari to overlook the poor performances of the following two seasons and he was dropped for the 2010 season, in order to make way for Fernando Alonso.


Fernando Alonso - Mutually parted ways with Ferrari

Fernando Alonso is well known for making bad career moves, and his agreement to leave Ferrari in 2015 was another case of this.


After replacing Kimi Raikkonen in 2010, Alonso and Ferrari had a positive relationship where both would consider the partnership successful, despite not winning a title together.


In 2014, after the start of the new V6 turbo hybrid era, Ferrari's performance became questionable, and this lead to the beginning of a rocky relationship between Alonso and the team.


Alonso started to look elsewhere for a drive for the following season, which angered the then team principle, Marco Mattiaci. However, Ferrari were also looking for an Alonso, replacement, keeping a keen eye on the hot prospect, 4-time world champion, Sebastian Vettel.


For the 2015 season, Alonso agreed to join McLaren with the hope of having a new hyper-successful era with Honda returning as McLaren's engine supplier.


Meanwhile, Ferrari were able to poach Vettel from Red Bull after a release clause was activated in Vettel's contract, as a result of Red Bull's poor car performance.


Sergio Perez - Dropped by Racing Point to make room for Sebastian Vettel

Before the 2020 season even began, it was announced that Sebastian Vettel would be leaving Ferrari. This then sparked a chain of driver transfers across the grid.


The first of those "silly season" moves was Racing Point (now Aston Martin), deciding to terminate Checo's contract early, in favour of Sebastian Vettel.


Despite of this, Sergio Perez had a tremendous 2020 Formula 1 season, coming 4th in the world drivers' standings and recording his first race win in Sakhir, Bahrain where he came from last at the end of the first lap to cross the line taking the top spot of the podium.


Between Ferrari, Racing Point, Vettel and Perez, the Mexican driver definitely benefitted the most out of these transfers as he was able to impress Red Bull boss, Christian Horner and earn himself a seat at the Milton Keynes' based team for 2021.


Nikita Mazepin - Ousted by Haas following Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Nikita Mazepin was a controversial and disliked figure from the second he was announced as a Haas driver for the 2021 Formula 1 season. This was due to a variety of reasons including: dangerous driving, groping allegations and the nature of which he 'earned' his seat through his father's sponsorship of the team.


Dmitry Mazepin, Nikita's father, owned a Russian fertilizer company called "UralKali" which sponsored Haas in 2021 and was meant to continue its sponsorship for the following seasons. Russia invaded Ukraine just before the 2022 Formula 1 season started, triggering a series of events that led to Nikita's release.


Because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the economical sanctions that were in place due to that, that made Haas' partnership with UralKali practically impossible, Haas decided to drop the sponsorship, as well as Nikita Mazepin as one of their drivers for the 2022 season.


The Russian was replaced by former Haas driver, Kevin Magnussen, who would partner Mick Schumacher for the 2022 Formula 1 season.


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