Oscar Piastri and his youthful smile in his first photo as a McLaren driver. Photo: McLaren.
One novel is over and another may begin, with the threat of bringing one of Formula 1’s hottest inmates to justice over the summer holidays. McLaren put an end to the mystery and announced to the young man Oscar Piastri21 years old, as his new pilot for the 2023 season. It all started with a tweet that became a meme exactly one month ago.
August 2, Alpine announced in Twitter that Piastri, his reserve driver, would be the replacement Fernando Alonso for next year but a few hours later the Australian denied the information on his social networks, leaving the French team out of the game. His voice was clear: the 2021 F2 champion had all the credentials to move to McLaren, a feeling that became more evident when it was announced last week that Daniele Ricciardo he will no longer run with the British.
Despite Alpine’s threat of lawsuits against Piastri and McLaren, the team founded in 1963 by New Zealand designer Bruce McLaren announced that Oscar is joining a team that has a rich history in F1, with 863 races, 183 wins, 8 constructors and 8 drivers’ championships, with legends behind the wheel like Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Lewis Hamiltonamong others.
“McLaren Racing has signed a multi-year contract with 2021 FIA Formula 2 Champion Oscar Piastri to partner with Lando Norris in the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season,” the statement read.
Piastri will join Lando Norris to complete driver training for the 2023 McLaren F1 Team, after the team announced a multi-year extension of Lando’s contract last season.
Through a video Piastri declared his enthusiasm: “I am very excited to make my F1 debut with a prestigious team like McLaren and I am very grateful for the opportunity that was given to me. The team has a long tradition of giving young talents a chance and I’m looking forward to working hard alongside Lando to take the team to the top of the grid. I am focused on preparing for my debut ”.
Piastri, the child prodigy who sparked a scandal in Alpine
Oscar Piastri was sleeping in Australia when on the European night Alpine came out with a special declaration: he announced that he would be the replacement of Fernando Alonso from 2023. The dream, after a year of waiting after being F2 champion in 2021 and running out of placed on the Formula 1 grid, it had been fulfilled. Or so it seemed.
But the 21-year-old Australian had other plans. With Marco Webberformer F1 teammate and friend of Alonso, as a representative, the suspicion was that he had done so a pre-contract with McLaren replacing compatriot Daniel Ricciardo. Something that ended up being confirmed exactly one month later.
“I understand that, without my consent, Alpine F1 issued a press release late in the afternoon that I will drive 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“said an outspoken Piastri on his Twitter account, the same channel the team had used to communicate his incorporation as Esteban Ocon’s teammate.
It was only an hour and 49 minutes since Alpine’s statement, which included statements from her team manager, Otmar Szafnauer, who stated that “Oscar is a brilliant talent”. “We are proud to have nurtured and supported him in the difficult paths of youth formulas. Thanks to our collaboration over the last four years, we have seen him develop and mature into a driver who is more than capable of making the step towards Formula 1“, he announced.
“As our reserve driver, he was exposed to the team on the track, in the factory and in testing, where he showed the maturity, the promise and the speed to secure promotion to our second place alongside Esteban. We believe the duo (with Ocon) will give us the continuity we need to achieve our long-term goal of fighting for victories and championships.“, He added.
But in those almost two hours the pilot had neither expressed nor celebrated a giant step in his career. And this attracted attention, despite the fact that the drivers and even the category welcomed F1.
When Piastri then declared that he will not race for the Alpine in 2023, despite having trained there and being the pilot of the tests, social networks were activated so as not to miss even a detail of what was happening. Memes have flooded Twitter, where many have speculated about it Daniel Ricciardo’s seat was at risk due to Piastri’s refusal to be promoted to the Alpine.
It wasn’t just ordinary users who wrote on the social network; even those of verified accounts like those of Romain Grosjean, who tweeted popcorn emojis, and the Alfa Romeo teamwhich showed a photo of its pilots looking at a cell phone.
Others, meanwhile, have echoed Alonso’s Instagram posts from Oviedo, his hometown and where he enjoys every F1 summer break, which began on the Sunday after the Hungarian Grand Prix. There was seen a smiling two-time champion, who with a simple video confirmed his position in time and space, when Szafnauer was relentless in saying that they could not contact him. because I was on a ship in Greece.
His friendship with Webber, the representative of the young Piastri, also had a chapter on social media. It obviously seems very convoluted that there is a picture to debunk Alpine and make it look ridiculous. But nothing is stranger in this Formula 1. Not even that Alpine “forces” the driver to race for them and undo any link with another team.
A promotion that had an F1 destination but that Alpina has postponed
While Formula 1 closed a spectacular season with an unexpected outcome at the Yas Marina circuit between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in 2021, Formula 2 had a loyal champion with 6 wins and 11 podiums.
The then pilot of the Italian Prema Racing team and member of the Renault Young Drivers Academy since the previous year – when he won Formula 3 – He had to get into Formula 1, because the F2 rules prevented him from racing in that category again, or from looking for his place elsewhere..
Instead of that, Piastri has agreed to be Alpine’s reserve driver for 2022since Esteban Ocon had a contract for another three seasons and Fernando Alonso, until the end of the year, and so it was until August 2nd, when they finally secured a place for next season.
This boy, however, was born on April 6, 2001 in Melbourne, where he started in karting and moved to continue his career in formula cars, first in Formula 4 in the United Arab Emirates and then in Europe, where he was also second. ranked in British F4 in 2017 and Formula Renault champion in 2019. he had projects that had been cooking for a while behind Alpine’s back.
First, the possibility of going to Williams appeared., when the position of Nicholas Latifi, the author of that accident that determined the definition of the Abu Dhabi GP 2021, was left speechless. As published last month by the specialized site car and driverPiastri was an option to replace it in 2023 in what was a winning for Alpine: it would serve to promote him without a place in his team (since Alonso will renew until then) and could establish relationships with a Mercedes-powered team to equip it with Renault engines.
But then Jost Capito noticed an American from the F2, Sergeant Logan (21 years), which is already part of Williams’ young driver program. “We were really impressed with how quickly he got to grips with the car, the handling of the tires and its results. The way he got pole position at Paul Ricard was really impressive and in the future he will be in a Formula 1 car. , I am absolutely convinced If this was the best for us, we would consider it. If it were not the best and we had another solution, we would look for the best solution “, said the boss of the English team about who won 4 podiums. and two victories this year in the opening category.
The network I am an engine was what placed Piastri in McLaren, ensuring that although the Australian played in Williams, Webber, your representative at JAM Sportshe was working to get him a place at McLaren in the absence of results from another compatriot: Daniel Ricciardo. Alonso had even been on the radar of the English team but Sebastian Vettel’s retirement and his vacant post at Asturias have made Asturias change course and have not hindered his friend’s negotiations.
According to information published by car and driver, Webber advised Piastri not to commit to any of his possibilities.since the McLaren seat would be his best option to start in Formula 1 alongside Lando Norris.
In The race They went further: they indicated that Piastri’s clause required Alpine to find him a place for 2023 by the end of July and if they didn’t get it he would be released to talk to other teams. from 1 August, the very day Alonso chose to report his departure.
Alpine won’t let him go without a fight.
The Alpino, on the other hand, did not think the same, where they indicated it “Piastri can’t go to McLaren for F1 2023”. Although the French wanted to secure Alonso one more year before promoting his young promise, the unexpected departure of Asturias changed their plans.
“I am not aware of any previous agreements you have with McLaren, if any.“, Szafnauer said when Motorsport.com asked him about Piastri’s intentions.” But I hear the same voices that are heard in the pitlane. What I do know is that you have contractual obligations to us. And we with him. And we have complied with these obligations throughout the year. And those obligations last until 2023, and maybe 2024, if you take a few options, “he warned.
The boss of the Alps added that the Alpine’s obligations to the Australian this year were that he was a “reserve driver, to also put him in last year’s car for a significant period of time”.
“It is true that every driver wants to drive for the best possible team. And if you are presented with a choice between a team that is on top of the center and one that is not there, of course you will choose the team that has better potential in the future.” , he acknowledged. But at the same time he warned: “If everyone is faithful to the agreements they signed a few months ago, we should be able to carry on with the agreements we have,” he insisted.
In those statements to the press, Szafnauer made it clear that Alpine spent a lot of money and resources to prepare Piastri for Formula 1so she won’t let him go without a fight.
Almost a year after the consecration in F2, the Australian has been encouraged to make fun of Alpine and will race in McLaren.
Chris and Nicole Piastri’s son who began competing at age six in radio-controlled car racing – like a full-scale Scalextric -, eventually winning a national championship, also has financial backing from his father’s software company (HP Tuners), so F2 champion with 60 points over runner-up Robert Shwartzman not only boasts talent, but he has financial backing that can come in handy for any team on the grid.