LONDON (REUTERS) – Australia’s rising star Oscar Piastri ruled out racing for Renault-owned Alpine on Tuesday (Aug 2) amid contract confusion only hours after he had been announced in the Formula One team’s 2023 driver lineup.
The 21-year-old, Alpine’s reserve and last year’s Formula Two champion, was set to replace double world champion Fernando Alonso when the Spaniard joins Aston Martin at the end of the season on a multi-year deal.
Alonso’s announcement on Monday, the first day of the sport’s August break, had come as a surprise but that was eclipsed by the drama and intrigue that followed.
Alpine’s statement strangely lacked a quote from Piastri – who finally broke his silence on social media by making clear he had other plans.
“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,” he said.
“This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year.”
Media reports suggested the Australian, managed by former F1 racer Mark Webber, had signed a pre-contract with McLaren – a team that officially does not have a vacancy but might be creating one.
Alpine principal Otmar Szafnauer was asked about that in a Zoom call with reporters on Tuesday.
“We do have a legal contract with him (Piastri) into the future for ’23. And if an option is taken up, for ’24,” he said.
“I don’t know what he’s done with McLaren… I’m not privy to that.”
Piastri had previously been linked to Williams, but that was as a loan deal on the understanding that he would return to Alpine when Alonso left.
There was no comment from McLaren, who are battling Alpine for fourth place in the constructors’ championship, and Piastri’s management could not be contacted immediately.