When 2021 Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri denied that he would be joining Alpine F1 after the team seemingly confirmed his spot in the car, the shoe waiting to drop seemed to be the same confirmation of a deal with McLaren that caused Alex Palou to spurn a similar announcement from Chip Ganassi Racing in IndyCar. Now, two separate reports seem to confirm that a move is inevitable.
At the time, the concern for McLaren was that they already had an Australian signed to that seat for 2022. When Palou was signed with some ambiguity about whether or not he could race in Formula 1, Daniel Ricciardo even went as far as to confirm that he was "committed to McLaren until the end of next year." Now, reports from both Motorsport and ESPN F1 suggest the situation has changed.
In the structure being reported, Piastri is now signed to McLaren as a 2023 reserve driver in a way that is structured to become a 2023 race seat deal once Ricciardo moves. He was informed that would happen earlier this week, leading the two into a contract resolution process that is expected to be eased by Ricciardo's desire to stay in the series with another team. In the cleanest possible resolution still on the board, he would be partially bought out and immediately sign with another team. This would allow him to extend his time in Formula 1, allow Piastri to start at McLaren immediately, and put the whole saga behind all parties.
If this does happen, the most likely outcome seems to be a return to Alpine. Although Ricciardo left the team on short notice to join McLaren in the first place, he had a very strong run with what was then Renault after voluntarily leaving Red Bull Racing to take a shot at being a No. 1 driver there. Some leadership has changed since, but Alpine has won one race, the same number as McLaren, since Ricciardo left and still has ambitions to move up the grid on its own. If he were to join the team, Ricciardo would be joining the seat initially announced for Piastri after Fernando Alonso's surprise switch to Aston Martin earlier in the week.
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