As soon as Fernando Alonso announced his transfer to Aston Martin at the end of the 2022 Formula 1 season, Otmar Szafnauer received calls from “several potential drivers”, in the words of the Alpine boss himself. And one of them was Daniel Ricciardo.
The confirmation was made by the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport and is in line with what another magazine, the French AutoHebdo, had already disclosed: that the veteran is in negotiations to return to the French team. And Alpine itself has already made it clear that it would have no problem receiving Ricciardo again.
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The point is that, even claiming at the top of his lungs that he has a contract until 2023 with the base in Woking, Ricciardo is one of the most threatened drivers – if not the most – not to race in F1 next season. McLaren CEO Zak Brown himself has said that the Australian’s contract has “mechanisms” that allow for the termination of the agreement ahead of time.
Another crucial point in the story is Oscar Piastri, and the young man’s reaction to Alpine’s announcement, denying that he will race with the French team in 2023, is another strong indication that, in fact, the delay in Alonso’s decision made the champion current F2 to seek other paths. Auto Motor und Sport said that during the Hungarian GP weekend, rumors that Piastri did not want to race for Alpine were strong. It was even said that there was already a letter of intent signed with McLaren, and if the story is confirmed, it leaves Ricciardo free to accept other offers and remain in F1.
Ricciardo raced at Renault – the brand behind Alpine – for two seasons, in 2019 and 2020. Szafnauer was asked about the matter by the English magazine Autosport before all the confusion on Tuesday and was not against it. “If you look at Fernando, for example, he comes and goes, and I think that happens with other drivers as well. And I don’t think that’s a problem. I think we need to focus, as I said, on the plans we have for the next 89-88 races,” he said.
“We have to make sure we complement that plan with the best driver we can and we have some options. And we put the best pilot next to Esteban [Ocon] so that we can move forward with what we are planning”, he concluded.
Alpine remembers Button case and hopes “not having to go to court” to keep Piastri in 2023
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