Formula 1: Oscar Piastri announcement sets up obvious move

Oscar Piastri, Alpine, Formula 1 (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
Oscar Piastri, Alpine, Formula 1 (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images) /

Oscar Piastri’s rejection of Alpine’s announcement about his status for the 2023 Formula 1 season sets up another obvious move.

When four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel announced his plans to retire at the conclusion of the 2022 season, not many could have predicted the massive domino effect that would ensue.

Vettel had reportedly been in talks with Aston Martin about returning for another season in 2023, but he ultimately decided that it was time to call it quits.

Dark horse replacement for Fernando Alonso?. light. Trending

Set to replace him is two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, who was reported to have been in talks with Alpine about extending his deal there as well.

His name had previously been linked to Vettel’s seat in the event Vettel decided to retire, but the announcement still shocked many.

Alpine responded by making what many believed was an obvious decision: confirming reserve driver Oscar Piastri as their second driver for 2023.

However, as obvious as the decision seemed, this was never going to be a straightforward process, and for multiple reasons.

Sure enough, hours after the announcement was made, it was confirmed that the process will indeed be anything but straightforward.

After Alpine made this announcement, Oscar Palou — sorry, Piastri — refuted the report that he is set to join the team alongside Esteban Ocon next year. He put it bluntly that he will not be driving for Alpine in 2023.

Earlier in the summer, when many were under the impression that Alonso would be back at Alpine and thus there would be no room for the former Formula Renault Eurocup, Formula 3, and Formula 2, champion at the French outfit, he had been linked to Williams as the replacement for Nicholas Latifi.

We can safely assume that he didn’t come right out and reject Alpine, an organization with which he has been associated for several years, to drive the slowest car on the grid.

So what’s brewing here?

Daniel Ricciardo has a contract with McLaren that runs through the end of the 2023 season, but many believe that, given his struggles and some of the comments that have been made about him by CEO Zak Brown (even though Brown has also said that the two parties are committed to each other for 2023), he will decide to leave.

Even after Ricciardo announced his intention to remain with the Woking-based team to fulfill the remainder of his contract, the speculation didn’t slow down. Given that the option exists, this is truly a case of “never say never”.

Plus, there have been several other instances of drivers making public statements for no other reason than to quiet down the speculation about their futures. Ironically, the most notable one was McLaren-related on the IndyCar side.

Is Piastri in line to replace Ricciardo?

It sure seems that way.

Before the 2022 season began, the 21-year-old Australian joined McLaren’s pool of reserve drivers, and while under the impression that Alpine would not have any openings for 2023, Piastri had reportedly been working with manager Mark Webber, a former Formula 1 driver himself, to put together a deal for him to join McLaren alongside Lando Norris.

This could, in turn, potentially result in Ricciardo returning to the team from which he departed to join McLaren post-2020.

Pierre Gasly’s name has been brought up as well, as the move would give the French organization two young French drivers with whom to move forward, but when AlphaTauri confirmed (take the word “confirmed” with a grain of salt, of course), Gasly didn’t come out and refute the report like others in the world of motorsport have within the last few weeks.

Next. Top 25 Formula 1 drivers of all-time. dark

Let’s also not forget that this situation puts Williams in an interesting spot, since Piastri had initially been linked to join then on loan from Alpine. Will they still opt to replace Latifi for 2023?