McLaren is looking to replace it’s current incumbent Daniel Ricciardo with fellow Australian Oscar Piastri.
The silly season in 2022 kicked into overdrive as McLaren and Alpine are locked in a tussle to obtain the services of F2 champion Oscar Piastri.
The musical chairs of seats started when Sebastian Vettel made a sudden announcement that he was retiring at the end of the 2022 season. The German legend, therefore, left an empty seat at Aston Martin.
Following the Hungarian Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso made a shocking announcement that he was joining Aston Martin from the 2023 season replacing his friend Vettel. This news caught Alpine by surprise as they were not expecting it.
This made Alpine promote it’s reserve driver, Oscar Piastri to occupy the race seat alongside Esteban Ocon next season.
Alpine risked losing Piastri
However, the original plan chalked by Alpine was to loan Piastri to Williams for a few seasons before putting him on their race seat when Alonso retired. Unknown to the management at Alpine, Piastri and his manager Mark Webber sought a deal elsewhere as a move to Williams would not be beneficial.
This led to them having contact with McLaren to replace the struggling Daniel Ricciardo which Piastri accepted. Alpine were unaware of the deal and announced Piastri as their driver for 2023 without his approval.
Following the announcement on Tuesday, Piastri took to social media to reject that any such deal has been made and that he will not be driving for Alpine next year.
Alpine did have an option for 2023 with Piastri. However, it had to make a decision before 31st July which they failed to do.
McLaren started looking at Piastri as a replacement after dismal performances from Daniel Ricciardo continued.
The Piastri-McLaren partnership got a significant boost after their contract was validated by the FIA’s contract recognition board.
If McLaren wants to put Piastri in their seat they will have to pay off Ricciardo. If Ricciardo does not agree then he will continue racing with McLaren while Piastri waits on the sidelines for one more year before moving up in 2024.
Piastri’s switch in alliance with McLaren means Alpine is left without a potential replacement for Alonso. However, bringing Ricciardo back to Enstone seems like a logical move.
The short two-year stint at then Renault saw Ricciardo score podiums and consistently perform well with the car. His partnership with Ocon was also harmonious. Overall the reunion makes perfect sense to happen.
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