Oscar Piastri to race for McLaren after contract resolution

Oscar Piastri will replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren in 2023 after the FIA’s contract recognition board (CRB) upheld the team’s contract with the Formula 2 champion.

McLaren and Alpine both felt they had a valid contract for the Australian’s services for next season.

On Friday the CRB upheld McLaren’s contract, revealing he had signed a two-year contract on July 4., the day after the British Grand Prix.

Immediately after the verdict was released, McLaren announced Piastri would join the team in 2023.

Piastri is considered the best young driver to enter F1 since the 2019 rookie class of Lando Norris — who will be his teammate in 2023 — George Russell and Alex Albon.

Piastri said: “I’m extremely excited to be making my F1 debut with such a prestigious team as McLaren and I’m very grateful for the opportunity that’s been offered to me. The team has a long tradition of giving young talent a chance, and I’m looking forward to working hard alongside Lando to push the team towards the front of the grid.”

The news leaves Alpine without a replacement for Aston Martin-bound Fernando Alonso next year. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly has emerged as a leading contender for that seat, although Ricciardo, who’s imminent departure from McLaren opened the door for Piastri to join, is still in the mix.

If Alpine wants Gasly they will have to pay Red Bull to buy out the final year of the French driver’s deal.

Alpine released a short statement after the verdict, saying: “We consider the matter closed on our side and will announce our full 2023 driver line-up in due course.”

It is a humiliating setback for Alpine, having lost a longtime member of its driver academy after laying out an extensive Formula One testing program at great expense for him this year.

The dispute kicked off over Formula One’s summer break after Aston Martin confirmed the signing of Alonso for 2023.

Alpine academy product Piastri, considered to be a star of the future, seemed like the most logical option to fill that gap and Alpine quickly announced him to be stepping up to the F1 team for next year, although it was notable the press release came with no quote from a driver just handed his F1 debut.

Two hours later, Piastri sent a now-famous Tweet: “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.”

Piastri’s manager, Mark Webber, played a key role in the discussions with McLaren. Webber worked with McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl when he was in charge of Porsche’s World Endurance Championship team. Under Seidl’s leadership, Webber was part of the team which won the WEC title in 2016.

With both Alpine and McLaren convinced they had a valid contract with Piastri, the matter went to the contract recognition board (CRB).

The CRB was set up in 1992 to deal with a dispute between Jordan and Benetton over Michael Schumacher’s services, which was won by Benetton. It has been called upon rarely in F1 since, but it settled a British American Racing and Williams dispute over Jenson Button in 2004, which BAR won, and a Toyota and BMW dispute over Timo Glock in 2007, which Toyota won.

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