Alpine reserve driver Oscar Piastri has agreed a deal to race for McLaren in 2023 in place of Daniel Ricciardo, RacingNews365.com has learned.
The Australian’s future has been the subject of much debate this week, with Alpine releasing a statement on Tuesday saying Piastri would replace the Aston Martin-bound Fernando Alonso at the French squad next year.
However, in a remarkable turn of events, the 21-year-old released a statement of his own just two hours later refuting the claims that he would be racing for the Enstone team in 2023.
Piastri was known to be admired by other teams, having previously been linked with a loan move to Williams, and RacingNews365.com has learned from sources in Australia that Piastri has signed a contract at McLaren that would see him partner Lando Norris and replace compatriot Riccardo at the Woking squad in 2023.
FIA’s contract recognition board, where all F1 contracts are checked for validity, is said to have validated Piastri’s new contract with McLaren at the expense of his existing deal with Alpine.
RacingNews365.com understands that Piastri has a contract with Alpine for 2022, but not for 2023. His 2022 deal is said to contain an option on Piastri’s services for 2023, but that option was not exercised within the required 30 days of signing that contract.
What now for Ricciardo?
The FIA’s contract recognition board ruled that there was no valid contract between Alpine and Piastri before 2023, leaving McLaren free to agree a deal with the Australian.
Piastri’s deal with McLaren was said to have been finalized on the evening of July 30, before Fernando Alonso’s move to Aston Martin was confirmed on August 1.
Under Formula 1’s regulations, Alpine cannot challenge the board’s decision, as F1 teams have previously unanimously decided that it is the highest body that can rule on contractual matters.
Piastri’s move leaves Ricciardo’s F1 future up in the air. The Australian’s best bet may be replacing Alonso at Alpine, for whom he drove in 2019 and 2020 in its previous guise of Renault.