Australian motor racing driver Oscar Piastri has denied that he'll be driving for Alpine F1 team next year, despite them announcing him as their new driver.
Last week Sebastian Vettel announced he would retire from Formula One at the end of the season, leaving a space to fill at Aston Martin for 2023.
It wouldn't be easy to replace a four time world champion but the team, based at Silverstone, didn't do a bad job by announcing Fernando Alonso as their new driver.
That reportedly came as a surprise to Alpine but on Tuesday they confirmed that they were moving quickly to fill the gap, announcing 21-year-old Piastri as their new man.
2023 driver line-up confirmed: Esteban Ocon 🤝 Oscar Piastri— BWT Alpine F1 Team (@AlpineF1Team) August 2, 2022
After four years as part of the Renault and Alpine family, Reserve Driver Oscar Piastri is promoted to a race seat alongside Esteban Ocon starting from 2023. pic.twitter.com/4Fvy0kaPn7
In a statement about their current reserve driver, the team said, "As part of his formative F1 journey, Oscar was first promoted to BWT Alpine F1 Team Reserve Driver at the start of the 2022 season and has since been undergoing, under the Team’s guidance and its full financial support, an intensive and comprehensive training programme of private tests in the race-winning A521, the 2021 Alpine F1 car, race support and simulator sessions to prepare him for the next big step into F1.
"Alpine now looks forward to seeing the next stage in his F1 career alongside Esteban Ocon."
The official statement came with no comment from the Formula Two champion however, and now his social media post has shown why that was the case.
The Australian took to Twitter on Tuesday evening to say that the statement had come out without his agreement and went as far as saying he wouldn't be driving for the team past this 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. This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine 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. 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
Piastri has been rumoured as a potentially replacement at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo, with the youngsters fellow Australian out of form this year for the British team.
Earlier on Tuesday, Alpine Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer had claimed that the driver had a contract with his team, telling Autosport, "I'm not privy to whatever pre-arrangements he has with McLaren, if any at all.
"But I hear the same rumours that you do in the pitlane. But what I do know is that he does have contractual obligations to us. And we do to him. And we've been honouring those obligations all year.
"And those obligations, last through '23, and possibly in '24, if some options are taken up."
Ironically, Szafnauer also claimed that he first found out that Alonso was leaving his team when the official press release about the Spanish driver's move came about.
"I was very confident then that Fernando would continue with us, and that was said with integrity and honesty," the Romanian-American said.
"It’s exactly what I believed at the time… we were in discussions with Fernando for quite some time and we were very very close to finalising the agreement.
"Just a couple of minor points that were outstanding that he said his lawyer would get back to us on and I believed that to be the case. And then before he left, I confirmed with him that we would be signing soon and he said, ‘yeah don’t worry I haven’t signed with anybody else, we will continue this in the next couple of days'.
"And then the next morning I woke too… well actually I woke up before the release but the next morning I saw the release from Aston [Martin]. We were very, very close, with what I thought was a fair contract on both sides and Fernando did too, but it looks like he decided to do something else thereafter."
Now it seems he's done the same to Piastri, but it's unlikely to be the end of the matter, especially if the driver has anything to do with it.
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