Alpine shock as Piastri turns down drive for next season

John Skilbeck
Stats Perform
Alpine reserve driver Oscar Piastri
Alpine reserve driver Oscar Piastri

Australian Oscar Piastri has refuted an announcement from Alpine that he will race for them in Formula One next season.

The stunning move came on Tuesday as Alpine reserve driver Piastri shot down the team's assertion he would be taking the seat of Aston Martin-bound Fernando Alonso.

Piastri, last year's Formula 2 champion, has been linked with Williams and McLaren recently, but Alpine have been determined to keep him.

However, the 21-year-old said in a statement posted 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."

Team principal Otmar Szafnauer has claimed Piastri does have "a legal contract" for next year with the Renault-owned marque, seemingly putting him in direct conflict with the young driver.

The disagreement will need to be resolved, with Szafnauer having told motorsport.com "I'm not privy to whatever pre-arrangements he has with McLaren, if any at all."

He added: "Oscar and his camp are considering their options, whatever that means."

This situation has been brought into the spotlight amid Alpine's need to find a replacement for Alonso, who has agreed to succeed retiring former four-time champion Sebastian Vettel with Aston Martin.

The drama comes as Formula One enters its short mid-season break.

German great Vettel will retire from Formula One at the end of the season, with Szafnauer indicating he was expecting Alonso to commit to a new Alpine contract until news came through of Aston Martin's move for the Spanish veteran, who won the 2005 and 2006 world titles.

In Alpine's now-contradicted statement about the appointment of Piastri, Szafnauer described the youngster as "a bright and rare talent".

He added: "Through our collaboration over the past four years, we have seen him develop and mature into a driver who is more than capable of taking the step up to Formula One."

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