Alpine claims Oscar Piastri will race for the team in 2023 despite doubts over his intentions, and without comment from the young Australian.
Piastri was expected to replace Fernando Alonso after the Spaniard joined Aston Martin, but earlier on Tuesday Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer admitted to the BBC there could be a dispute ahead with the Australian’s management team – including Mark Webber – believed to have spoken to McLaren about a possible switch.
“Oscar and his camp are ‘considering their options,’ whatever that means,” Szafnauer said. “I’m not privy to whatever pre-arrangement he has with McLaren if any any all but I hear the same rumors you do. But I do know he does have contractual obligations to us and we do to him.”
However, just a few hours later, Alpine announced that Piastri would race for the team, but unusually there was no comment from Piastri nor any social media posts confirming the news from his side.
Alpine states it has promoted Piastri “in line with the commitments made by the team to the young Australian”, and pointedly states that since it promoted him to reserve driver he “has since been undergoing, under the team’s guidance and its full financial support, an intensive and comprehensive training program of private tests in the race-winning A521, the 2021 Alpine F1 car, race support and simulator sessions to prepare him for the next big step into F1”.
The announcement was also made at 2am Australian time regarding the 21-year-old, who has been in demand since winning three junior titles in a row, culminating in last year’s Formula 2 championship.
“Oscar is a bright and rare talent,” Szafnauer said. “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.
“As our reserve driver he 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 [Ocon]. Together, we believe the duo will give us the continuity we need to achieve our long-term goal of challenging for wins and championships.”
In IndyCar, McLaren is currently involved in a legal dispute over Alex Palou, having announced the defending IndyCar champion had signed for the team after Chip Ganassi Racing made its own announcements claiming it had retained his services, only for Palou to dispute that.
McLaren offered no comment when approached by RACER about the Piastri situation on Tuesday.