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The story of Oscar Piastri and Alpine

04/08/22

Where will the Australian driver be in 2023.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning in Oscar Piastri’s hometown of Melbourne, Australia, the Formula 1® world was about to experience one of its most extraordinary few hours.

As the clocks hit 2:11 am, BWT Alpine F1 Team posted a message to their social media accounts announcing the promotion of Piastri to their race seat for 2023.

“2023 driver line-up confirmed: Esteban Ocon [and] Oscar Piastri,” the tweet read.

“After four years as part of the Renault and Alpine family, Reserve Driver Oscar Piastri is promoted to a race seat alongside Esteban Ocon starting from 2023.”

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The news everyone in Australia had been waiting for – and probably expected – happened when most of the country was asleep.

Not only did the announcement’s timing raise red flags, but the distinct lack of comment from Piastri himself, as a quote in the press release or on social media, indicated that something wasn’t quite right.


Exactly one hour and forty-nine minutes later, at 4:00 am Melbourne time, Piastri responded to the Alpine team.

Piastri’s response confirmed the thoughts from many online that something wasn’t quite right with the Alpine announcement.

Over 24 hours later, both comments remain the last messages posted to Alpine’s and Oscar’s social media accounts.


What started it all?

It’s called the silly season for a reason, and it all started on the Thursday leading into the last race before the teams and drivers went on the summer break.

Sebastian Vettel joining social media in the morning got him in the headlines before dropping a retirement announcement on those platforms only hours later.

With Vettel’s spot vacant at Aston Martin, Fernando Alonso swooped in and signed a multi-year deal with billionaire Lawrence Stroll to move to his team from Alpine.

Alpine was caught off-guard by this switch of their star driver, with Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer only hearing of the move in the Aston Martin press release.

Alpine’s driver line-up for the 2023 season had taken a turn that the team hadn’t anticipated. However, it seemed like an easy fix with their current reserve driver, Piastri, likely to be promoted into that seat.


Where to from here?

The details of a driver’s contract with their team are private and unknown to all but their inner circles. As such, most of what is being discussed online and in the media is speculation.

However, a few deductions can be made from what has played out in public so far.

Piastri, who is managed by former Red Bull driver and fellow Australian Mark Webber, has understandably been looking for a potential seat for 2023. Presumably, neither knew of the Vettel retirement that would lead to Alonso’s switch to Aston Martin and, as such, didn’t believe Alpine would be a viable option for the Mebournian in 2023.

The last sentence in Piastri’s social media statement, “I will not be driving for Alpine next year”, suggests they have secured a deal away from Alpine. The team Piastri is speaking with isn’t confirmed; however, McLaren is believed to be the one, which raises more questions.

McLaren has a driver line-up for next year, with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo under contract for the 2023 season, and can’t add another without losing Norris or Ricciardo.

In turn, Alpine’s Team Principal, Szafnauer, believes they have the final say on where Piastri drives in 2023.

If the parties involved can’t resolve the current situation, it will go to the FIA’s contract recognition board, which deals with such disputes.

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