Alpine, McLaren, Williams and AlphaTauri are all potentially ready to take the 21-year-old into Formula One racing in 2023.
A tug of love has developed over Oscar Piastri as the highly-rated young Australian prepares to make his Formula One race debut in 2023.
Renault thought it had him locked in for next year with its Alpine team – even announcing its plans this week — but Piastri has responded that he has not signed any firm contract.
Piastri and his manager – fellow Australian and retired Formula One race winner Mark Webber – are now believed to be in talks with McLaren, where fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo’s future looks extremely shaky.
The McLaren connection follows earlier hints of time with Williams, and talk of a potential future tie-up to AlphaTauri through Webber’s connections to Porsche.
“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,” Piastri tweeted hours after the Alpine announcement, which said he would be promoted from test and reserve driver this season to a full-time race seat next year.
“I will not be driving for Alpine next year.”
The messy development was triggered when two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso, who leads Alpine this year, blind-sided Alpine when he accepted a big-money offer to switch to the Aston Martin team for next year.
His move allowed Alpine to switch its focus to Piastri – who has been in Renault’s (now Alpine’s) young driver academy for two years – instead of having to choose between a proven superstar in the twilight of his career (Alonso), and an unproved but mercurial youngster.
It was looking considering ‘loaning’ Piastri to Williams – just as Mercedes-AMG did with British star George Russell, before upgrading him to a place alongside Lewis Hamilton for the 2022 season.
Piastri’s graduation comes after an incredible run of success in junior single-seater racing, which saw him take three major championship wins — including the FIA Formula Three and Formula Two categories that race on some Formula One weekends — in consecutive years.
He became a member of the Renault (Alpine) Academy for junior drivers at the start of 2020, where he first drove a Grand Prix car.
After missing out on a spot on the F1 grid for 2022, Piastri joined the Alpine squad this year as a reserve driver, with a program that includes regular Formula One testing time and work in the high-tech F1 simulator at Alpine’s headquarters in the UK.
Piastri has earned plenty of praise for his test and development work at Alpine, but it is his raw speed and commitment in races that has attracted the attention of other teams.
Alpine team boss, Laurent Rossi, has no doubt about Piastri’s potential.
“Oscar is something else. He is one of the future champions of formula One,” Rossi told Drive earlier this year.
“He is extremely smart and mature for his age. Like extremely smart. I would love to have Oscar as my driver for the future Alpine.”