Paul Di Resta finds this week’s driver moves, or in Oscar Piastri’s case non-move, baffling as Fernando Alonso’s swap to Aston Martin came out of the blue and Piastri rejected a drive with a top four team.
Sebastian Vettel’s decision last week to call time on his Formula 1 career set the sport’s silly season into high gear.
While it was thought at Aston Martin would need some time to consider their options, it took less than five days for the team to sign Alonso from Alpine, the latter only learning of his exit when the Aston Martin announcement came out.
Alpine, though, already had the perfect replacement in mind the team announcing Piastri’s promotion on Tuesday afternoon. Hours later he denied it, saying he would “not be driving for Alpine next year”.
It has all come as a bit of shock for former F1 driver turned commentator Di Resta.
“Yeah it is very odd,” the Scot told Sky Sports. “I think the whole paddock was caught by surprise yesterday going into summer break when the silly season starts with driver contracts.
“Fernando going to Aston, I hadn’t heard it anywhere, I don’t believe my colleagues had either and it also caught Otmar Szafnauer by surprise.
“That has led on to what has happened obviously with Piastri who has been an Alpine junior.
“They have been lobbying him, saying how good he is and where that seat is going to come up and even trying to place him within the Formula 1 paddock because he is an asset to them in the future.
“Now, that statement that he has put out, I find it very surprising that he is rejecting a team that is in the top four and a great upward trajectory, that you wouldn’t want to drive for them.”
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Di Resta, like the rest of the Formula 1 paddock except perhaps one team, is wondering where Piastri is going next season.
While it was thought that Alpine wanted to try get him into the Williams in a one-year loan deal, Piastri seems to have taken matter into his own hands thinking that there wouldn’t be a seat open at Alpine.
It has been reported that his manager Mark Webber has been in talks with McLaren, but that means Piastri will either take Daniel Ricciardo’s seat despite the latter insisting he will be with McLaren next season, or he’ll be a reserve driver for a second season.
“That can only mean that he has got another seat secured somewhere else,” Di Resta continued.
“Where is he going to be driving? Is it McLaren? Is it Williams? Where does that leave Daniel Ricciardo?
“I am very unsure where that is going to happen.
“You have got this junior who is so highly rated on the back of what he has done in the junior categories and to sit him on the sidelines and now have him racing and invest all this testing in various different circuits.
“Putting him in a car was what Alpine had but obviously he feels he is going to be driving somewhere else.
“He has obviously taken that decision thinking Alonso was staying and it did feel like he was part of the furniture and it was going to be the obvious thing that he continued to go on.
“I felt he was going to be loaned to another team, maybe a Williams to bring him along like George Russell was and I could see that was a path and the future was bright.
“He is going to be a credit to the sport whatever car he is in because his on-track driving does the talking and he is going to be an asset to the Formula 1 paddock and driver market, it is just where he is going to be placed now. We are all sitting on the fence.”