Sports · August 2, 2022

Oscar Piastri rejects the F1 Alpine offer among Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren voices

It’s called the silly season for a reason, but it’s getting silly.

A dramatic series of events took place in Formula 1 overnight and at this point nothing was resolved.

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The circus began when Fernando Alonso stunned Alpine by revealing that he was fleeing the team to join Aston Martin, who needed a new driver following Sebastian Vettel’s retirement.

This left Alpine with an egg in the face and, in an attempt to remove that egg, the fourth-placed team announced that they were promoting young Australian gunslinger Oscar Piastri to the vacant seat.

Piastri, who served as Alpine’s reserve driver this season after winning two championships in F2 and F3, is set to enter the grid in 2023 and seemed to have decided his future when this version was released just after 2am. : 00 (AEST).

But less than two hours later Piastri further embarrasses Alpine by denying his claim to have accepted the promotion.

“I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine F1 issued a press release in the late afternoon today that I will be driving for them next year,” said Piastri.

“This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not drive for Alpine next year”.

The madness kept coming. Shortly after Piastri’s tweet, the BBC quoted a spokesperson for the Alps as saying: “We believe we are legally correct in our statement, but we have nothing more to say.”

But that’s only half the story.

The other inconvenient development for Australian racing fans is that Piastri is on a collision course with his compatriot Daniel Ricciardo.

Ricciardo last week reaffirmed his commitment to McLaren, but in recent years he has endured the toughest times as Lando Norris’ partner.

It appears that Piastri – and his manager, Australian F1 legend Mark Webber – have read the tea leaves and are looking at Ricciardo’s seat before knowing that Alonso was about to make room for the Alpine.

There was also a report claiming that they have a deal in place with the British manufacturer, which will no doubt be tested in court if Alpine believes they are breaching their deal with the 21-year-old from Melbourne.

Asked about Piastri’s potential transfer to McLaren, Alps boss Otmar Szafnauer replied: “I’m not aware of any deals that (Webber) has with McLaren, if at all.

“But I heard the same rumors you do in the pit lane. But what I do know is that he has contractual obligations to us. And we do it to him. And we have honored these obligations all year round.

“And those obligations last until ’23, and maybe ’24, if you take a few options.

“So so we have a legal contract with him in the future for ’23. And if an option is used, for ’24. So I don’t know what he did with McLaren. As I said, I am not aware of it.

“Oscar and his field are weighing their options, whatever that means.”

Piastri this year was forced to aim as an Alpine reserve driver, despite having won three consecutive titles in a stellar youth racing career.

F1 commentator Martin Brundle predicted last month that the Australian would find his way to the 2023 grid.

“Piastri has to be in F1 next year whatever it is and whatever happens, he has to take it,” said Brundle.

“He has to overcome everything he gets, like Mark Webber at Minardi and (Ayrton) Senna at Toleman, for example.

“It won’t be easy for Oscar, but it’s not out of the question.”

It was speculated that he could be loaned to Williams as a replacement for Canadian Nicholas Latifi, but Alonso’s exit created a domino effect that left the only three Australians racing at top levels since the early 1990s suddenly at odds.

Originally released as Australian young gun Oscar Piastri throws an F1 bomb, embarrassing his current squad