Daniel Ricciardo is a candidate to take the seat was meant for Oscar Piastri at Alpine, Otmar Szafnauer adamant he didn’t burn any bridges when he left the team two years ago.
After all if Fernando Alonso can jump back and forth, why can’t Ricciardo.
Alpine are currently unsure as to who will be Esteban Ocon’s 2023 team-mate. Four days ago the team believed it would be Alonso, Alpine having offered him a one-year deal that they thought he would accept.
However, on Monday morning he instead announced that he would be off to Aston Martin next season, signing a multi-year deal to replace Sebastian Vettel.
Not a huge problem as Alpine, or so they thought, had Piastri on the books and on Tuesday stated that he would replace Alonso.
He denied that, putting a statement out on social media that ended with the words “I will not be driving for Alpine next year”.
He is instead expected to replace Ricciardo at McLaren, even though three weeks ago the beleaguered driver insisted he would be with McLaren next season.
It now seems maybe he won’t, but Alpine could offer him a F1 lifeline with the eight-time grand prix winner returning to the team that he unceremoniously walked away from after just two seasons.
As things stand this morning…
Oscar Piastri is sitting on Daniel Ricciardo's lap in the McLaren, and Esteban Ocon is having to drive one Alpine while towing the other #F1
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) August 3, 2022
“I mean, if you look at Fernando, for example, he comes and goes, and I think that happens to other drivers too,” team boss Szafnauer told Motorsport.com.
“And I don’t think that’s an issue at all. I think what we need to focus on is, like I say, the plans that we have for the next 89-88 races.
“We’ve got to make sure that we complement that plan with the best driver that we can, and there are some options out there for us. And we put the best driver in next to Esteban, so that we can move forward towards what we’ve been planning.”
This is not the first time that Szafnauer has been involved in a driver contract disagreement, he went through something similar when Jenson Button wanted to quit BAR for Williams, and then a year later wanted to stay with BAR instead of joining Williams.
“I’ve been around long enough where I’ve seen this kind of thing actually play out and happen,” Szafnauer said.
“When Jenson signed with Williams and ended up at British American Racing Honda, if you remember those days, there was absolutely no issue. I mean, I know Oscar is different from Jenson. Hopefully we don’t have to go down that route, anyway.
“But your presumption was, oh, a driver wants to go somewhere else. So hopefully that’s not the case. But I have seen it where a driver actually signed with another team incorrectly, so had to drive for the team that he initially signed with.
“And it was absolutely no issue. Jenson at the time did a stellar job at BAR, and never ended up at Williams.”