Danny Ric is still under contract at McLaren. Piastri is still under contract at Alpine. But recent rumblings increasingly point to some messy F1 musical chairs in 2023 with an Aussie twist.
It’s a bit of an uncomfortable topic, but it’s likely that there’s no driver in Formula 1 whose global popularity outpaces his on-track success quite as much as McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo as of this very moment.
Sure, he won 2021’s Italian Grand Prix, but the pickings are slimmer this year. He’s managed just four points finishes in 13 races and sits 12th in the championship standings — since 2013, he’s finished no worse than ninth.
And that’s why, despite being under contract through 2023, F1 fans have witnessed rumblings suggesting that Danny Ric could get the sack at McLaren after this season. A Friday report from Motorsport.com’s Adam Cooper states that the team has already informed the Honey Badger that his days are done — and that the intention is to give his seat to fellow Australian Oscar Piastri, who’s currently a reserve driver with Alpine.
It’s all a bit of a mess, and not just on the McLaren side of things. Let’s recap what else is going on here that only adds to the intrigue:
- Last week, four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin announced his retirement following the current season.
- On Monday, two-time F1 champ and incumbent Alpine driver Fernando Alonso was announced as Vettel’s replacement at Aston Martin starting next year.
- Soon after, Alpine publicly anointed Oscar Piastri as Alonso’s successor — but the driver himself took to social media to deny that any agreement had been reached and to say that he’s quite simply leaving the team:
And here we are.
To be clear, several things would have to happen before McLaren could properly sack Ricciardo and swoop in for Piastri, not the least of which being the two drivers’ active contracts with their respective employers for 2023.
Alpine have been adamant that Piastri is their guy next year and he cannot leave the team without their consent, but as Motorsport.com’s story notes, it may not be a fully legal fact that the driver is locked in with them next year — at least not as of this time. On the McLaren side, he and Ricciardo would need to agree on financial terms for a buyout before any F1 free agency could happen.
Hey, wouldn’t it be poetic if it was actually Ricciardo who ended up being the Australian driver who ultimately fills Alonso’s seat at Alpine? Far, far stranger things have happened in the world of auto racing.
In the meantime, let’s get to know Oscar Piastri.
Who is Oscar Piastri?
Hometown: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Car number: 2
Role: Reserve driver
Career accolades: 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup champion, 2020 Formula 3 champion, 2021 Formula 2 champion