After an enormous amount of drama, Australia’s very own Oscar Piastri looks to be finally getting his Formula 1 debut in 2023 with McLaren.
The speculation is finally over. The 21-year-old Aussie wunderkind will be joining Lando Norris at British team McLaren for the 2023 Formula 1 season. Piastri will replace Australian racing driver Daniel Ricciardo.
The move was confirmed by McLaren and Piastri’s Instagram accounts simultaneously – avoiding the fiasco triggered by Alpine’s pre-emptive Tweet…
Oscar Piastri’s Formula 1 debut has been subject of a huge amount of drama. It was all triggered by Sebastian Vettel, who took the sport by surprise by announcing his retirement at the end of the 2022 season. Then Fernando Alonso, just days later, announced he was leaving Alpine to take Seb’s spot at Aston Martin.
When Alonso announced his departure, Piastri’s move to Alpine seemed like a foregone conclusion. Piastri, who has been acting as Alpine’s reserve driver this season and is part of Alpine’s driver academy, was previously speculated to be joining Williams in 2023 to replace Nicholas Latifi, who is all but confirmed to be leaving the sport.
With Alonso gone, it would seem natural that Alpine would give him the spot – and indeed, that’s what they announced. Then, hours later, Oscar responded, saying that Alpine hadn’t consulted him first and that he wouldn’t be racing with them next year. F1’s silly season has never been sillier.
I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine F1 have put out a press release late this afternoon that I am driving for them next year. This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year.— Oscar Piastri (@OscarPiastri) August 2, 2022
Piastri taking Ricciardo’s seat at McLaren has been a major embarrassment for Alpine. There’s no word yet on what settlement McLaren had to make with the French team. What we do know is that McLaren will have to pay Daniel Ricciardo upwards of AU$35 million to release him from his contract.
Ricciardo, an eight-time Grand Prix winner, has struggled since joining McLaren in 2021, and a sword of Damocles has hung over the driver for months. Now it seems it’s finally fallen.
In comparison, Piastri, who was awarded the FIA Rookie of the Year award for 2021, has quickly built a name for himself as one of the most talented young drivers on the planet, and is widely considered to be future World Champion material.
Piastri has won 3 titles in 3 years – the 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup, the 2020 Formula 3 championship and the 2021 Formula 2 championship (the latter of which he both won in his rookie years in each category, a huge achievement) – but in what felt like a huge miscarriage of justice, found himself without a seat in F1 for 2022.
With Danny Ric’s future in F1 looking increasingly uncertain – he might even end up going to Alpine, actually – the fact that there will continue to be an Australian presence in the sport is good news for Aussie F1 fans, as well as fans of Australian humour.
Piastri might not be as much of a joker as the notoriously sunny Riccardo, but his personal brand of witty, self-deprecating humour has won him plenty of fans. Indeed, there’s some interesting synchronicity there, as just like Ricciardo, Piastri has Italian heritage.
We have no doubt that Piastri will succeed in F1. Affable, humble and dedicated, he’s got a winning personality and plenty of skill. He’s exactly the kind of role model young motorsports fans need. It’s just a shame that his entry into F1 has been marred by all this drama.
That said, McLaren will be seriously down on funds after paying out Ricciardo and potentially paying off Alpine. Fingers crossed they’ll be able to properly invest in their F1 programme and give Piastri the resources he needs to succeed.
Our big question is this: can Piastri, a Melbourne boy, do what no other Australian driver has managed to do in the race’s Formula 1 era and win the Australian Grand Prix? We’ve got high hopes.
We also hope Ricciardo finds a seat sooner rather than later.