Daniel Ricciardo’s lifeline at Alpine not quite what it seems, Oscar Piastri, McLaren – Michmutters

Daniel Ricciardo’s lifeline at Alpine not quite what it seems, Oscar Piastri, McLaren

The Daniel Ricciardo-Oscar Piastri saga is only getting more complicated by the day.

The F1 world erupted when it was revealed McLaren had told Ricciardo it plans to replace him with the young Australian driver next season despite Ricciardo being contracted for 2023.

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The decision sent fans into a spin, with many slamming McLaren for its treatment of Ricciardo.

The development means Ricciardo’s F1 career is in limbo, and his future could take a long time to settle because McLaren will likely face a challenge from Alpine over its poaching of Piastri.

Alpine’s handling of the saga has come under the microscope and Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo’s rookie driver, says he’s “happy” to be free from the shackles of the team where he was part of the junior academy alongside Piastri.

“I’ve been completely released,” Zhou said when asked about how his career is going away from the French team.

Zhou, who effectively leapfrogged Piastri in the pecking order to snag the lone spare seat on this year’s grid, is glad he hasn’t found himself “stuck” at Alpine like Piastri.

“Everything worked out very nicely, because my contract was ending at the end of last year and it was up to both of us if we wanted to continue, but then there was an opportunity with Alfa,” he said.

Moving Daniel Ricciardo from McLaren to Alpine could be trickier than it seems.  (Photo by Attila KISBENEDEK / AFP)
Moving Daniel Ricciardo from McLaren to Alpine could be trickier than it seems. (Photo by Attila KISBENEDEK / AFP)Source: AFP

“So the deal was definitely not to continue with Alpine, because I didn’t see anywhere I could have a seat for next year or for this year. And Alfa and Alpine are quite big competitor brands – not just in Formula 1 but in general.

“It was not easy to get out of Alpine but I’m very happy that everything worked out well because if I had another year I’d be kind of stuck, the same now with Oscar.

“So it’s not the best thing for me. I feel like there was an opportunity here so I went for it, and I think it was a very good decision.”

Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer has said he is open to Ricciardo to return to the team, formerly known as Renault, where he spent two underwhelming seasons in 2019 and 2020.

But such a return could be more complicated than it seems. RacingNews365 reported earlier this year AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly has a clause in his contract that would allow him to join a rival team.

The clause comes with one condition — that said team is placed higher than AlphaTauri in the standings.

Alpine is currently higher than AlphaTauri in the constructors’ championship, meaning Gasly, who is French, could choose to join Alpine.

Could Ricciardo find himself off the grid altogether? (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Piastri’s agreement with McLaren has reportedly been validated by F1’s Contract Recognition Board, and Alpine’s botched handling of his contract is unlikely to fill Ricciardo with confidence.

There is still plenty to play out in F1’s silly season but Ricciardo’s future is becoming increasingly unclear.

The 33-year-old could return to Alpine to replace Fernando Alonso, or move to Alfa Romeo alongside Valtteri Bottas.

Ricciardo has made it clear he wants to stay in F1 so it’s unlikely he’ll be interested in a move to McLaren’s IndyCar team.

There remains the possibility Ricciardo could find himself out of the sport altogether and forced into an early retirement, which would be a shocking turn of events for one of the most marketable drivers in F1.

Regardless of where he ends up, Ricciardo can expect a whopping payout from McLaren if he is indeed given the flick with a year remaining on his deal.


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