Alpine may have scored not one but two spectacular own goals as they battle to retain the services of wantaway reserve driver Oscar Piastri.
The Enstone-based team are in turmoil in the wake of Fernando Alonso’s decision to sign for Aston Martin on a multi-year contract from next season. Despite losing an F1 great, Alpine did at least appear to have a quality replacement in the shape of highly-rated Australian Piastri, their test and reserve driver.
Alpine proceeded to announce on Tuesday that the reigning Formula 2 champion would be driving for them in 2023. However, Piastri, who is managed by former F1 star Mark Webber, soon rejected the announcement and insisted he would be driving elsewhere next year.
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It is widely reported that Piastri has held talks with McLaren with a view to replacing Daniel Ricciardo. And it has been suggested that two blunders may have contributed to the mess that the Renault-backed squad team finds itself in.
Own goal number one? There was already a link between Piastri and McLaren as Alpine agreed for the Woking outfit to call on the 21-year-old in event of Lando Norris or Ricciardo not being able to race this season.
An Alpine statement, released back in March, said: “In the spirit of offering maximum racing opportunities to our stable of young talent, we have agreed that McLaren may call upon BWT Alpine F1 Team Reserve Driver Oscar Piastri in the event one of their drivers is unable to race.”
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That arrangement would have inevitably led to talks between McLaren and Piastri’s representatives.
Own goal number two? Moving onto the current situation, Alpine insist they have a solid contract which stipulates they have the first option on Piastri’s services. However, F1 contract arrangements often lapse at the end of July, before the start of the summer break, and Sky Sports report that Alpine needed to have activated their option on Piastri by July 31.
Alonso announced he was moving to Aston Martin, a move which caught Alpine completely by surprise, on August 1.
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