After a month of deliberation from various parties, it has been decided that 2021 Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri will be making his jump into F1 with McLaren Racing. The 21-year-old Australian will be replacing Daniel Ricciardo, whose contract was bought out one year early after a two-year stay with the team.
Piastri was previously involved with Alpine’s young driver program, and a month ago they announced he would be driving for their F1 team in 2023 only for him to publicly deny the statement. It was then made known that he was instead in talks with McLaren, however Alpine still believed they had a contractual right to Piastri as a driver. This prompted discussions with the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board (CRB), who ultimately deemed that Piastri would be “entitled to drive for McLaren Racing Limited for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.”
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Can’t wait to get started! @McLarenF1 https://t.co/5h7dZzmwY3
— Oscar Piastri (@OscarPiastri) September 2, 2022
“I’m extremely excited to be making my F1 debut with such a prestigious team as McLaren and I’m very grateful for the opportunity that’s been offered to me,” said Piastri. “The team has a long tradition of giving young talent a chance, and I’m looking forward to working hard alongside Lando to push the team towards the front of the grid. I’m focused on preparing for my F1 debut in 2023 and starting my F1 career in papaya.”
What’s still left on the table is who will fill the second seat at Alpine alongside Esteban Ocon. After Fernando Alonso’s departure to Aston Martin, Piastri was considered the favorite for the seat, but now that he’s unavailable, they will have to look elsewhere. There is the option of Ricciardo returning to Alpine, who he left for McLaren two years ago, however the leading theory is that Haas’s Mick Schumacher could fill the role, as his contract expires at the end of this season.
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Ocon himself has even endorsed Schumacher as his preferred teammate, saying: “People know my choice, if I had anything to say, would be Mick, you know, if he doesn’t have anything lined up next year.” Expanding on his reasoning behind that, he continued: “He’s a great guy and could perform very well if he [had] a competitive car, and at the moment the Alpine is competitive. That’s just my words… I don’t have a decision to take, but the team knows that this would be my preference.”
It seems we’ll find out soon enough, though, as in response to the CRB’s decision, Alpine released a statement saying: “BWT Alpine F1 Team thanks the Contract Recognition Board (CRB) for convening on Monday and we acknowledge the decision they have made. We consider the matter closed on our side and will announce our full 2023 driver line-up in due course.”