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Formula 1

Oscar Piastri to sign with McLaren Formula 1 team - what’s next for Daniel Ricciardo?

The silliest ‘silly season’ of all time is taking its final turns as most seats seem to be filled for next year, but Ricciardo still needs somewhere to land in F1.

The silliest ‘silly season’ of all time is taking its final turns as most seats seem to be filled for next year, but Ricciardo still needs somewhere to land in F1.
Mario Renzi - Formula 1Getty

Fernando Alonso’s departure from Alpine to Aston Martin in 2023, whether it was planned alongside Oscar Piastri’s agent Mark Webber or not, put Formula 1′s status quo in shambles for a while, but most pieces are already in place for next season. An impressive race where Max Verstappen won from tenth on the grid and Ferrari ridiculed themselves (once again) was quickly cast aside when the ‘silly season’ showed that F1 can be plenty interesting even during its summer break.

Alonso, Piastri and Alpine’s disaster

Otmar “Sufufu” Szafnauer, Alpine’s team principal, thought he had everything under control on Sunday. His team had Ocon, the number one driver for them even if he happens not the be the fastest one, under contract for next year, the two-time world champion veteran Alonso was close to signing a one-year extension and their promising young driver, Australian Oscar Piastri, would be the one to take his place in 2024. Just a few hours later on Monday, after a race where Ocon once again proved that he does not know how to be a team player, he had lost both Alonso and Piastri.

Szafnauer and the executives from the French team located in Enstone thought they could be coy and try to keep everything under control while toying around with both Alonso and Piastri. Alonso came up with another offer from Lawrence Stroll and Aston Martin and quickly left one middle-of-the-pack team for another that offered him a multiyear contract. It’s up in the air whether this move will be good for Alonso in the long term or not, but he decided not to play by Alpine’s rules, and perhaps it might even get him a seat at Mercedes next to George Russell if Hamilton were to retire soon.

Piastri got tired of waiting for Alpine to give him an F1 seat after winning the F2 championship last year, and he decided to act as if everything was okay with the team he has been a part of for years now while having Mark Webber negotiate with McLaren at the same time. Alpine’s plan was to get Piastri a seat at Williams for 2023, in exchange for the French manufacturers signing a deal to become Williams’ power unit providers, before he jumped to the main team in 2024. This plan was changed with Alonso’s departure, leading Alpine to announce that Piastri would race for them starting next year, to which Piastri said: no such thing.

Drama ensued, as the F1 world looked at Alpine’s mess and wondered what would happen next. One Fernando Alonso cheekily published a video of himself in Oviedo at the same time Piastri’s tweet was published, making a mockery of Szafnauer’s statement saying that the Spanish driver was in Greece and not answering calls. The French team thought their contract with Piastri was valid for 2023, but they did not activate a clause before 1 August, the same day Alonso shocked them with his departure. They had no time to solve it, and so lost the two best drivers they had in a single, unpredictable but clearly well-prepared blow.

Piastri to McLaren means Ricciardo is out

Williams said they had an announcement the next day, which riled everyone up, but it was only Alex Albon’s contract renewal. The waiting game to see where each driver landed did not last long as AMuS and other publications had info about Piastri having already signed up to drive next to Lando Norris at McLaren next season. That cleared things up except for one person: Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian had a contract for 2023 with the orange team, but he has been clearly underperforming against Norris and the team wants to move on from him. And, you may ask yourself, which team has lost two drivers this week and is in need of a quick replacement?

Ricciardo may not be at the peak of his driving powers anymore, not even at the middle of them, but he’s probably the best option Alpine have next to Ocon. If he is released from McLaren to make room for Piastri and wants to stay in F1, he will have to convince Szafnauer that he can come back to his old team, when they were still Renault, and, well, “drive faster”.

Only one Williams seat seems to be up for grabs if and when they get rid of Nicholas Latifi, but it seems to have the name of Logan Sargeant already inscribed on it. If all of these moves are made official in the coming weeks, the Belgium Grand Prix in Spa will feature the same drivers and teams as Hungary, but the vibes will not be quite the same.


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