Just over an hour after the team announced he will take Fernando Alonso’s position and compete for Alpine in Formula One, Australian driver Oscar Piastri dropped the shocking news that he would not.
The current Formula 2 champion Piastri has spent four years in Alpine’s driver academy, but he has other goals in mind.
Piastri tweeted: “I understand that, without my consent, Alpine F1 have put out a press release late this afternoon stating I am driving for them next year. This is a spectacular turn of events in the driver market for F1.”
“This is false, and Alpine and I have not agreed to a deal for 2023. The next year, I won’t be driving for Alpine.”
ESPN has learned from numerous sources that Piastri has signed a pre-contract agreement with McLaren, Alpine’s main competition for fourth place in the current constructors’ championship.
Piastri’s tweet is a blatant signal that he sees his future with McLaren and not Alpine, even though the specifics of that agreement are unclear given that Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo have contracts to compete for the team next season.
Given that Ricciardo has a binding deal that runs through the end of 2023, McLaren seems to be betting that it can let him go.
Recently, Ricciardo confirmed his dedication to finishing that deal and turning around his recent bad performance, which encouraged McLaren CEO Zak Brown to consider other possibilities.
McLaren has also recently added IndyCar’s Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward and Alex Palou to its stable of drivers.
However, the eight-time race winner does have exit clauses on his side, and if McLaren has decided to go with Piastri, Ricciardo may well consider a return to Alpine — where he competed when it was known as Renault between 2019 and 2020 — as a realistic option.
Despite the likelihood of a legal dispute, Alpine risks losing a two-time world champion and a driver who many believe has the potential to become a world champion in the next 48 hours.
The saga around Piastri looks set to be the second driver contract dispute McLaren is about to enter into, having recently signed Alex Palou to its IndyCar team despite Chip Ganassi saying that he is contracted to race for them next year.