Oscar Piastri never held an F1 contract with Alpine for 2023, and is therefore free to race for McLaren next year, RacingNews365.com can reveal.
With Fernando Alonso’s 2023 move from Alpine to Aston Martin announced on 30 July, Alpine moved swiftly to promote current reserve driver Piastri to a race seat next year.
However, just two hours after Alpine's statement confirming Piastri – which did not include any quotes from Piastri himself – the Australian released a statement of his own saying that he would not be driving for Alpine in 2023.
RacingNews365.com revealed last week that Piastri had instead agreed a deal to race for McLaren in 2023 in place of the underperforming Daniel Ricciardo.
Now, well-placed sources at Alpine have told RacingNews365.com that Piastri never held a Formula 1 contract with the team for 2023.
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More on Alpine and McLaren's tug-of-war over Piastri
Piastri had signed a contract with Alpine in November 2021, which contained a clause outlining the team’s obligations towards Piastri.
These obligations included giving Piastri a certain number of test kilometres in an F1 car, which RacingNews365.com understands is in excess of 3,500km, along with paying his expenses and making him Alpine's reserve driver in 2022.
If Alpine fulfilled these obligations, an option existed for the team to place Piastri in a race seat for 2023.
Crucially, however, this contract was between Piastri and Alpine's Driver Academy, rather than the F1 team.
This meant the contract was never registered with Formula 1's Contract Recognition Board, as it was not a F1 contract.
Accordingly, when McLaren lodged their contract with Piastri with the CRB after signing the Australian, neither Alpine nor McLaren received any notification from the CRB of any conflict.
Contractual wranglings set to continue
Though McLaren currently have Lando Norris and Ricciardo under contract for next year, RacingNews365.com has learned that McLaren intend to release Ricciardo from his deal.
Negotiations are currently ongoing as to the terms of such a split, but RacingNews365.com understands that Ricciardo's camp are looking for financial compensation in the region of $21 million.
This means the only options available to Alpine are to pursue the matter in a civil court. With Alpine's parent company Renault Groupe registered in France, and the Alpine F1 team headquartered in England, it is unclear which jurisdiction would hold sway.
Should Alpine decide to pursue the matter in a civil court, it is understood that the team would chiefly be seeking financial compensation for losing Piastri, rather than a ruling obliging the Australian to drive for Alpine in 2023.
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