What a week it’s been in the wild world of Formula 1. With the sport now on its summer break “silly season” has roared into view and social media has been flooded with speculation about what the driver grid could look like in 2023.
Just some of the confirmed news from the past seven days included Sebastian Vettel announcing his retirement and freeing up a space next season at Aston Martin. They replaced a four-time world champion with a two-time title winner, bringing in Fernando Alonso.
With an empty seat now up for grabs at Alpine, alongside Esteban Ocon, the rumour mill has gone into overdrive. Here’s what’s been going on behind the scenes in F1.
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.
— Oscar Piastri (@OscarPiastri) August 2, 2022
The F1 Twitterverse “literally exploded” on Tuesday, said Cambridge Kisby on WTF1. It all started when Alpine announced that their reserve driver, Australian Oscar Piastri, had been promoted to a race seat next year to replace Aston Martin-bound Alonso.
However, in a bombshell reply 21-year-old Piastri denied Alpine’s claim that he would be driving for them in 2023 and said, quite emphatically, that this was “wrong”. F1 Twitter “lives for moments like this”, said Kisby. After the Alonso news and then Piastri, you’ve “got to feel a bit sorry for the Alpine PR team”.
With fans, teams and drivers sent into a frenzy on social media, Tuesday 2 August 2022 will “go down as one of the more extraordinary news days in Formula 1’s recent history”, said F1 correspondent and presenter Lawrence Barretto.
With back-to-back Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles, Piastri has been regarded as “motorsport’s most talented youngster for some time”, said Matt Morlidge on Sky Sports. So it’s no surprise that teams are keen on his signature.
After “much drama” in the past week over Piastri’s future, RacingNews365.com has “learnt” that the Australian will drive for McLaren in 2023. Sources down under have said that Piastri has signed a contract at McLaren that would see him partner Lando Norris and replace compatriot Daniel Ricciardo.
Autosport “understands” that McLaren bosses have “officially told” Ricciardo that they intend to replace him with Piastri next year. Ricciardo has a “firm contract for next season”, and the team will now have to agree a settlement involving “a substantial pay-off in order for him to walk away”.