Confusion at Alpine as Oscar Piastri denies signing F1 contract

Australian driver was said to be replacing double world champion Fernando Alonso

Alpine reserve driver Oscar Piastri during the Spanish GP. Getty
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Australian driver Oscar Piastri on Tuesday stated he will not drive for Alpine in Formula One next year, soon after the team announced that he will replace departing two-time world champion Fernando Alonso.

Alpine released a statement earlier Tuesday saying that the 21-year-old will be promoted from his role as reserve driver "in line with the commitments made by the team to the young Australian".

"Oscar is a bright and rare talent. We are proud to have nurtured and supported him through the difficult pathways," Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer said in a statement.

"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."

But an hour later, Piastri stated on social media that he "had not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023".

"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," wrote Piastri.

"This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year."

Reuters reported that Piastri, managed by former F1 racer Mark Webber, is in contract negotiations with McLaren - a team that officially does not have a vacancy but might be creating one.

That was not the only bewildering development. Earlier, Szafnauer made the revelation that he found out about Alonso's move only after reading Aston Martin's press release.

"It was the first confirmation I had," Szafnauer told reporters on a Zoom call. "Obviously, when we're in the paddock, there's all sorts of rumours, and I had heard rumours that Aston were interested.

"Once you hear that they're interested, there's probably discussions that took place ... But I was confident that, even with the discussions, and there's nothing wrong with exploring, that we were very close.

"So yes, the first confirmation I had was the press release."

Asked whether he had spoken to Alonso, Szafnauer told reporters: "I haven't talked to him, since he's on a boat, I think, in the Greek Isles somewhere."

Alonso then posted on Instagram a video of himself walking in his home town of Oviedo in northern Spain.

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Updated: August 03, 2022, 8:58 AM
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