Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement from F1, creating a vacancy at Aston Martin — a vacancy that will be filled in 2023 by two-time champion and current Alpine driver Fernando Alonso. The Alpine F1 Team presumed that it could easily fill its now-empty race seat with its reserve driver, Oscar Piastri. However, Piastri now claims that he hasn’t signed a contract for the 2023 season.
This driver dilemma was thrust upon Alpine when Aston Martin suddenly announced that Alonso would be joining their team for next season, How suddenly? According to Motorsport.com, Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer first became aware that Fernando Alonso was leaving the team when Aston Martin published its press release about the signing. Alonso is allegedly on a boat in the Mediterranean, out of contact with Alpine.
Alpine F1 Team announced today that Oscar Piastri would be replacing Alonso amidst rumors that he and Mark Webber, his manager and former F1 driver, were negotiating a deal to drive for McLaren. On social media, Piastri denies that he signed a contract with Alpine and bluntly states that he will not race with the team in 2023. In prior statements, Szafnauer has claimed that the young Australian driver has obligations to Alpine for the 2023, as well as 2024.
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Piastri’s apparent dissatisfaction with Alpine isn’t surprising. After winning the 2021 FIA Formula 2 Championship, he remarked that be would “champion of sitting on the couch” in 2022. His contractual ties to Alpine, the lack of an open race seat at the team and Formula 2’s rule banning past champions from participating meant that Piastri would not race in 2022.
If the chaotic situation surrounding Oscar Piastri sounds familiar. It probably reminds you of the dispute involving the 2021 IndyCar champion Álex Palou attempting to depart Chip Ganassi Racing for the same F1 seat at McLaren. The dispute between Ganassi and Palou has now gone to court. Hopefully, the dispute between Alpine and Piastri is resolved before it reaches that point.