The driver market for the 2023 Formula 1 season has gone crazy after the sudden signing of Fernando Alonso by Aston Martin, and the fact is that the man from Oviedo left a free gap in Alpine that the French team is still trying to cover.
At first it would be Oscar Piastri , the young man from the Enstone academy, but hours after the official statement from the team confirming his promotion to the Great Circus, the Australian driver denied having signed any contract.
To this we must add McLaren’s interest in taking over the promise that won in the last Formula 2 campaign, and that is that those from Woking enjoy some contractual links with Piastri.
At the moment, the parties involved, the respective directors and legal departments are trying to reach an agreement that allows everyone to be happy, but it is not ruled out that the Geneva Contract Recognition Board will intervene, where all the contracts of the Formula 1 drivers, or ultimately the civil courts.
On a sporting level, what is most interesting to know is what the decisions of Alpine and McLaren will be, although in reality, in the case of the British, it seems that they have the young Australian tied.
A driver like Piastri, who has not yet debuted in Formula 1, has refused to drive for the Enstone team when they already had it confirmed, so it would be very strange, almost impossible, if he was not present on the 2023 grid , and everything indicates that it will be at McLaren as a partner of Lando Norris. If this is not the case, the biggest loser would be an old acquaintance from the paddock, Mark Webber, who directs the path of his compatriot after being entrusted with the position of manager, and his credit as a negotiating entity would end before even starting in Formula 1.
Time will tell if that was the best decision, to let the Alpine train pass, but the impression is that the Gauls have not worked as they should to keep the pilot from their academy, something similar to what happened with Guanyu Zhou last year , since the Chinese left for Alfa Romeo.
The question is who will accompany Esteban Ocon to the other side of the garage, and although everything has caught Alpine by surprise, the possibilities that exist in the driver market are not negligible at all. The first option, which seems the most logical, is that of Daniel Ricciardo, who still has a valid contract with McLaren until the end of 2023, but the reality is very different, since both are talking to terminate it ahead of time.
Those from Woking would be obliged to compensate the Australian , but if Ricciardo finds an alternative, he will have to negotiate his departure, in addition to seeing the conditions that they would offer him in Alpine, with whom he was already in 2019 and 2020, and his low level of form would cause I had to give up a lot.
However, there are two other options that also involve negotiations with other teams, as both drivers have contracts. These are Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly, from Williams and AlphaTauri respectively, and although no group has reason to get rid of its best driver, a juicy offer could open up other scenarios.
In any case, it will be something that will not come cheap for Alpine, and of course it will not please the upper echelons, since they have gone from having one of the best on the grid, Fernando Alonso, almost insured, and to a possible substitute for guarantees , Oscar Piastri, to not have anyone for the second seat.
In this issue, in addition, the negotiating capacity of the drivers and their character beyond the tracks arise, but if Oscar Piastri performs at the expected level at McLaren it will be a victory for the British at zero cost , while their Alpine rivals would see how they betrayed them and how they have had to spend many millions on a substitute.
It is difficult to imagine what is happening in the offices of the French team to find out which driver will be at the controls of his car in 2023, but the favorites are Daniel Ricciardo , with whom there would not be many problems if he leaves McLaren as he does not have second options, and Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly , who are renewed with their respective teams, but who would be willing to negotiate.