Piastri Rejects Alpine’s Offer for F1 Seat in 2023

·3 min read
Photo credit: Bryn Lennon - Getty Images
Photo credit: Bryn Lennon - Getty Images

Alpine and its young star Oscar Piastri are at loggerheads amid a tug-of-war over his services for 2023.

Highly rated Piastri, 21, has been supported by Alpine for the last four years, winning titles in Formula 3 and Formula 2, before holding a test and reserve role in 2022 after being unable to secure a race seat.

On Tuesday evening UK time—early Wednesday morning in Piastri’s native Australia—Alpine issued a statement announcing Piastri as a race driver for 2023, alongside Esteban Ocon.

No quote from Piastri was included in the release nor has Piastri himself announced the news either on his official website or through social media channels. Usually major stories such as this, and one involving a prospective rookie achieving a lifelong dream, are deftly coordinated. Just after 2 am Melbourne time is not that.

In its carefully worded release, Alpine said Piastri has been promoted “in line with the commitments made by the team to the young Australian,” and it also pointedly referred to Piastri’s “intensive and comprehensive training program of private tests in the race-winning A521, the 2021 Alpine F1 car,” which has been undertaken “under the team’s guidance and [with] its full financial support.”

Team boss Otmar Szafnauer said in an official quote that “Oscar is a bright and rare talent. We are proud to have nurtured and supported him through the difficult pathways of the junior formulae. Through our collaboration over the past four years, we have seen him develop and mature into a driver who is more than capable of taking the step up to Formula 1.”

Szafnauer went on to say that as a reserve driver, Piastri “has been exposed to the team at the track, factory and testing where he has shown the maturity, promise and speed to ensure his promotion to our second seat alongside Esteban. Together, we believe the duo will give us the continuity we need to achieve our long-term goal of challenging for wins and championships.”

Almost two hours later, Piastri responded to the development with a bombshell message.

“I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine F1 have put out a press release late this afternoon that I am driving for them next year,” Piastri wrote. “This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year.”

It comes amid rumors that Piastri’s management team—which includes ex-F1 driver Mark Webber, a close friend of two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso—had reached some sort of arrangement with McLaren. That comes despite McLaren having Daniel Ricciardo under contract for 2023, with both driver and team publicly emphasizing their commitment to each other.

Up until Monday morning, Alpine had expected to field Alonso and Ocon in 2023 and was in talks with Williams over a loan arrangement for Piastri. Meanwhile, Alonso just yesterday confirmed he has come to terms with Aston Martin on a multi-year deal to replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel.

Piastri’s status has changed quickly and the situation has turned toxic in a short frame of time.