Earlier today Alpine released a statement saying reigning FIA Formula 2 champion Piastri would take Aston Martin-bound Fernando Alonso’s seat at its F1 team next year.
The news came without any comment from Piastri both in the press release and on his own social media channels, with the announcement on the Australian driver’s future also coming in the middle of the night in his home country.
This fuelled suggestions that the Piastri situation was more complicated than it appeared, with the Australian and his manager, former F1 driver Mark Webber, having recently made moves to try to get him in at McLaren next season.
Piastri has now posted a statement on Twitter saying Alpine’s statement was made without his consent, and denies he will race for the team in F1 next year.
“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,” Piastri wrote.
“This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year.”
Double F1 champion Alonso’s shock announcement that he had signed a two-year deal with Aston Martin for next year blew the F1 driver market open as the series heads into its summer break.
Alpine team boss Otmar Szafanauer told a select group of media – including Autosport – that the team only knew of Alonso’s decision when the press release was issued.
With it looking unlikely that Piastri would have a place at Alpine for 2023 prior to the Alonso decision, it is understood that he and Webber had been working to secure a deal with McLaren.
That would have been in place of Daniel Ricciardo, whose future within McLaren has been uncertain for some time owing to his underwhelming performance in the car this year, despite having a deal in place for 2023.
Although break clauses in Ricciardo’s contract are believed to be entirely on his side, a swoop by McLaren to get Piastri in on a long-term deal could be enough to make him realise that his long-term future may well be better assured elsewhere.
Alpine claimed that, with Alonso moving on, the Enstone-based team had a contractual right to put Piastri into an F1 race seat for next year and seemingly exercised this earlier today with its own announcement.
That may not be the case, however, with some suggestions that Alpine had missed the deadline by which it had to commit Piastri to a 2023 F1 race seat.
It is likely, therefore, that Alpine made the announcement as a warning to others that they could face a legal battle over Piastri’s services as it had staked its claim to his services.
McLaren is yet to make any comment on the matter.