3 Aussie drivers caught up in F1’s silly season
August 5, 2022 / 10:23 pm
The summer break for Formula One is usually the trigger for the sport’s “silly season” – where contract negotation rumours run riot, retirements announced and lineups for the following season start to take shape.
What started with veteran driver Sebastian Vettel announcing his retirement, resulted in three Australian racing drivers embroiled in a saga that leaves us with more questions than answers.
Vettel’s retirement opened up a seat at Aston Martin, which promptly announced his replacement: Fernando Alonso, who is six years Vettel’s senior.
This then opened up a spot at team Alpine, which many including the team itself assuming Australian reserve driver Oscar Pisastri would fill the gap.
However, this was news to Piastri with last year’s F2 champion announcing on Twitter, quite bluntly “This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year.”
This immediately caused the rumour mill to spin into overdrive, with several sources reporting Piastri and his manager, former Formula 1 driver Mark Webber have had serious discussions with McLaren on ousting one of their two drivers ahead of the 2023 season.
This would mean either Britt Lando Norris (contracted until the end of 2025) or fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo (contracted until the end of 2023) would need to give up their seat for the racing wunderkind.
If Piastri is going to race for McLaren next year, the likely outcome would be unseating Ricciardo, despite the Aussie being the only driver to win in a McLaren in the past decade, his termination could open up some messy contract exit negotiations, including the possibility of Ricciardo being forced to sit out for a year if a non-compete clause is triggered.
Regardless, Riccardio’s former team Alpine (formerly Renault) have continually flagged their interest for him to return and race for the French team.
Image: Fernando Alonso (right) will shift from Alpine to Aston Martin next year, opening up a seat. Current Alpine reserve driver Oscar Piastri (centre) was declared he won’t be racing for Alpine next year, leading to speculation he will oust fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo (right) from McLaren