Formula 1

Alpine Announce Piastri as Alonso’s Replacement – But Doubts Over Deal Remain

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Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Oscar Piastri has been confirmed as Fernando Alonso’s replacement within the BWT Alpine F1 Team when the Spaniard moves to the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team in 2023 – or have they?

The Australian had moved into prime position for the seat alongside Esteban Ocon after Alonso made the surprise switch to Aston Martin earlier this week.

And now the 2021 FIA Formula 2 champion has earned a promotion from his reserve drive of 2022, with Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer announcing the decision on Tuesday.

“Oscar is a bright and rare talent,” said Szafnauer.  “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.

“Together, we believe the duo will give us the continuity we need to achieve our long-term goal of challenging for wins and championships.”

Is the Announcement Not as Clear as It Seems?

Despite the announcement, doubts remain that it will happen, with Mark Webber, Piastri’s manager, seemingly seeking a deal for the Australian to race for the McLaren F1 Team next season instead. 

No comments were made by Piastri on the press release, and nothing has been announced on his social media accounts, meaning not everything is as clear as it appears, and more of this could come out in the upcoming days.

And speaking earlier in the day, Szafnauer says things were not entirely settled behind the scenes but they had contractual obligations to run Piastri in 2023 and beyond.

“So Oscar and his camp are considering their options, whatever that means,” Szafnauer is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. 

“What I do know is that he does have contractual obligations to us. And we do to him. And we’ve been honouring those obligations all year.  And those obligations, last through ’23, and possibly in ’24, if some options are taken up.

“And our obligations to him this year was to be a reserve driver, to also put him in last year’s car for a significant amount of time. We’re well over half that programme of 5000 kilometres, which isn’t insignificant, in last year’s car, in preparation for a race next year.

“Also FP1s, simulation work, and we’ve been performing those obligations on both sides. So he’s been performing, we’ve been performing. 

“So therefore we do have a legal contract with him into the future for ’23. And if an option is taken up, for ’24. So I don’t know what he’s done with McLaren. Like I said, I’m not privy to that.”

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Thirty-something motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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