Alpine F1 team in disarray as Oscar Piastri denies he will drive for them

The Alpine Formula One team have entered a very public dispute with Oscar Piastri, their prospective replacement for Fernando Alonso next season. The team announced on Tuesday afternoon that Piastri would replace Alonso, only for the Australian driver to then issue his own statement denying he would be driving for Alpine as the row now heads into the hands of the lawyers.

The two-time world champion Alonso caught Alpine entirely unawares when he made an unexpected announcement on Monday saying he was leaving to join Aston Martin, which the French team admitted had taken them completely by surprise. Right up until the Sunday of the Hungarian Grand Prix Alonso had assured them he was close to agreeing a new deal.

After the Spaniard made his decision to join Aston Martin clear, Alpine acted swiftly to assert that they would exercise their contract with the 21-year-old Piastri who is a reserve driver for the team. On Tuesday they said he would join them in 2023.

The statement, however, notably did not include any comment from the Australian who is understood to have been in discussions to join McLaren. Piastri then responded several hours later and denied any intent to race for Alpine, posting on twitter: “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. This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year.”

Alpine’s principal, Otmar Szafnauer, insisted Piastri had a commitment to his team. “I do know he does have contractual obligations to us and we do to him. We have been honouring those obligations all year,” he said. However he conceded that communication between the team and Piastri had already broken down. “Oscar and his camp are ’considering their options’, whatever that means,” he added.

With Alonso having been expected to remain at Alpine next year it is understood Piastri and his manager, the former driver Mark Webber, had been working on a deal for him to replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren next year.

Piastri is an enormous talent and has been part of the Alpine driver academy since 2020. He won the F3 and F2 titles in 2020 and 2021 and this year has been reserve driver for both Alpine and McLaren. The latter have yet to make any comment on any deal with Piastri.