Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has left the door open for Daniel Ricciardo’s return and uncertainty over his future and Oscar Piastri.
Alpine, which has lost Fernando Alonso to Aston Martin for 2023, has announced that Australian Piastre will take the Spaniard’s place next year.
But in a bombshell attack that has rocked the F1 paddock, Piastre has taken to social media to reject a deal, insisting: “I can’t drive to the Alpine next year.”
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That has sent rumors into overdrive that Piastri is on a contract elsewhere – perhaps to replace the struggling Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren.
Ricciardo has been under pressure despite having a third year to run on his McLaren contract, and Piastri manager Mark Webber is understood to have pushed the team hard to keep Piastri ahead of Alonso’s shock exit.
If a McLaren move were to materialize for Piastri, it would leave Ricciardo without a seat for 2023.
One option for Ricciardo could be an uncomfortable return to Alpine (formerly Renault), which he has given up on in 2020 and is quitting after two seasons.
However, the team later made a change in management, while Szafnauer did not see any reason why Ricciardo could not be a potential alternative.
Szafnauer confirmed motorsport.com.au As the team fielded several calls from other drivers.
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Asked about the possibility of Ricciardo returning, he pointed to the example of Alonso, whose F1 career included two stints at McLaren and three at Alpine-Renault.
“If you look at Fernando, for example, he comes and goes, and I think that happens to other drivers as well,” he told the publication.
“And I don’t think that matters at all. I think we should pay attention, like me, to our plans for the next 89-88 races.
We have to make sure we supplement that plan with the best driver we can, and there are some options for us. And we put the best driver next to Esteban [Ocon]Let’s go back to the past.”
However, Alpine is hopeful of retaining Piastre, “We believe we are legally correct in our statement (about the signing).
Szafnauer told the publication that – even before Piastre’s statement – there was no reason why the team could not continue a healthy working partnership with the Australian if he got his wish.