Yesterday we witnessed something out-of-the-ordinary in the F1 world – a team announced a new driver for the next season, but the driver flat-out denied any agreement between the two. We are talking about Alpine, which formally announced Oscar Piastri would join their lineup in 2023, only to be rejected by the F1 rookie who added that he won’t be driving for them next year.
Everything started when Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement from F1 at the end of this season. The empty spot in Aston Martin was quickly filled up by veteran Fernando Alonso, who decided to quickly make the move from Alpine in favor of a multi-year contract. This surprise decision left Alpine in search of a new driver for 2023, and everyone expected Piastri to fill the spot.
On Tuesday afternoon, just one day after Alonso announced his departure from Alpine, the French team said that Oscar Piastri “is promoted to a race seat”. More specifically the official press release stated: “After four years as part of the Renault and Alpine family, Reserve Driver Oscar Piastri is promoted to a race seat alongside Esteban Ocon starting from 2023.”
2023 driver line-up confirmed: Esteban Ocon 🤝 Oscar Piastri
After four years as part of the Renault and Alpine family, Reserve Driver Oscar Piastri is promoted to a race seat alongside Esteban Ocon starting from 2023. pic.twitter.com/4Fvy0kaPn7
— BWT Alpine F1 Team (@AlpineF1Team) August 2, 2022
But just a few hours later, the Australian driver and F2 champion made a post on social media saying that he hasn’t got a contract with the team and he will not be driving for them next year.
I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine F1 have put out a press release late this afternoon that I am driving for them next year. This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year.
— Oscar Piastri (@OscarPiastri) August 2, 2022
It is true that Alpine’s press release didn’t include a quote from the driver, which is quite uncommon. However, Piastri had a close relationship with Alpine, receiving financial support for his preparation to join the F1 grid. His move to F1 was rumored to be planned for 2024 when Alonso’s original three-year contract with Alpine would end, but the Spaniard’s decision to leave early forced them to announce the rookie one year earlier.
Despite Piastri’s rejection, Otmar Szafnauer, team principal of Alpine insisted on the plan by saying: “We do have the right to take him. We have a priority”. At the same time, F1 media suggest that Piastri will be driving for McLaren in 2023, potentially replacing fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
All this mess will likely need to be resolved in F1’s Contracts Recognition Board if the team and the driver do not find a solution for their dispute soon. We hope that everyone gets what they want at the end, with Alpine filling up their empty spot and Piastri making his F1 debut in the team of his liking.