Oscar Piastri has shot down Alpine’s announcement that he will be partnering Esteban Ocon in their 2023 driver line-up.
A day after Fernando Alonso’s move from Alpine to Aston Martin had been revealed, the French team confirmed the widely expected news that Piastri would be taking the former double World Champion’s place.
However, there had been uncertainty before the announcement in the form of reports suggesting Piastri’s manager, Mark Webber, had been sounding out McLaren with a view to potentially taking Daniel Ricciardo’s place there.
Now Piastri, an Alpine academy driver, has delivered the bombshell news himself in a tweet that he “will not be driving for Alpine 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
Piastri’s tweet read: “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.”
The 21-year-old Australian’s tweet is a huge embarrassment for Alpine, who appeared to be caught somewhat off-guard by news of Alonso’s move to Aston Martin early on Monday morning.
Alpine’s reponse, as quoted by the BBC, was: “We believe we are legally correct in our statement but don’t have anything further to say.”
It had appeared to be something of a no-brainer that Piastri, the reigning Formula 2 champion, would be given his first F1 race seat alongside Ocon in 2023 having had to sit out this season due to no vacancies on the grid, instead serving as a test and reserve driver.
He had previously been linked with a ‘loan’ move to Williams, but his insistence that he will not be driving for Alpine indicates he and Webber have bigger fish to fry.
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) August 2, 2022
Contracts will clearly be at the centre of this matter, with Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer having said Piastri would be contractually obliged to race for Alpine in 2023 if formally offered the seat.
“He has contractual obligations to us, and we do to him, and we’ve been honouring those obligations all year,” Szafnauer was quoted by Autosport as having said.
“And those obligations last through 2023, and possibly 2024, if some options are taken up.
“We have a legal contract with him into the future for 2023 and if an option is taken up, for 2024. I don’t know what he’s done with McLaren. I’m not privy to that.”
It had raised eyebrows when Alpine’s press release announcing Piastri’s promotion to a race seat for 2023 had not contained any quotes from the driver himself.
It is now apparent why, and this looks like a story that is set to rumble on throughout the summer break.