McLaren will terminate Daniel Ricciardo's contract 12 months early to make way for Oscar Piastri to join the team, according to reports.
Ricciardo's future with the Woking-based outfit has been under scrutiny of late amid disappointing performances on the track. And he now looks set to depart just two years after joining McLaren from Renault.
Autosport claim McLaren intend to replace Ricciardo with Piastri, who has initially signed for the constructor on a reserve driver deal for 2023. But they reportedly intend to upgrade him to a race seat alongside Lando Norris, providing an exit plan for Ricciardo can be agreed.
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The report adds McLaren will have to agree to a "substantial pay-off" for the Aussie to walk away from his contract 12 months before its end. The 33-year-old is believed to have no interest in joining the firm's Formula E team, and is keen to find another drive in F1 next season.
It comes just a few of weeks after Ricciardo appeared to confirm his future at McLaren, dismissing retirement rumours in the process.
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"It's a lot of noise, rumours and people questioning, coming up with their own answers and it was building," he said. I know what my future is, so I am just going to let everyone know but also for people that follow me and my supporters.
"I still believe I can do it and the day I retire is the day I lose that feeling and belief. I truly feel like I am still pretty far from that."
Friday's news also brings an end to a whirlwind week for Piastri, who appeared set to join Alpine as Fernando Alonso's replacement, only to quash the team's claim that he had signed for them.
It has now emerged that McLaren began exploring the possibility of signing the highly-rated 21-year-old several weeks ago as they looked into possible replacements for Ricciardo.
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl has an excellent relationship with Piastri’s manager Mark Webber, having worked together at Porsche in the World Endurance Championship.
Meanwhile, Ricciardo is unlikely to be short of options providing that he leaves McLaren at the end of the season. In the last two weeks alone, four teams have reportedly been in contact with the Aussie racer amid uncertainty over his situation with the British outfit.
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