Daniel Ricciardo breaks silence on Oscar Piastri contract saga

2022 Alpine reserve driver Oscar Piastri will replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren in 2023.

Daniel Ricciardo’s time in Formula 1 as a driver is done, at least for now, with the 2022 season now one for the history books.

Whilst the Aussie is moving back to Red Bull as a development driver for 2023, the fan favourite won’t be seen racing an F1 car in 2023, given something truly exceptional happens to either Max Verstappen or Sergio Pérez.

Ricciardo even admitted recently that he’s only likely going to attend “a dozen” races next season, meaning the 33-year-old will not be a regular figure in the paddock next year.

His new role at Red Bull comes on the back of a challenging two years for the Australian at McLaren, where, apart from the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, nothing clicked.

Podium at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza 2021.v1

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Ricciardo revealed himself that he needs time away from the sport next season to hopefully get back to his former self, with it currently being easy to forget that the Honey Badger is an eight-time GP winner.

Somewhat unfairly, Oscar Piastri was announced as Ricciardo’s replacement before his departure from McLaren had even been confirmed; however, the entire situation was seemingly out of both drivers’ hands.

Piastri was dragged into an unfortunate situation with Alpine, whose academy he was part of.

The 2021 F2 Champion had been Alpine’s reserve driver for 2022 and was announced as being the team’s second driver for 2023, following Fernando Alonso declaring that he was going to Aston Martin.

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The 21-year-old then announced himself that he hadn’t agreed to race for Alpine and crucially wouldn’t be either, after it was then released that he’d be racing for McLaren in 2023.

The Enstone-based team were furious with the Aussie, with team principal Otmar Szafnauer having made some incredibly hurtful comments about the driver.

Alpine were insistent that Piastri was contracted to them, which resulted in the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board determining who the young driver was actually going to race for in 2023.

It was decided that Piastri was contractually bound to McLaren and not Alpine, something that disappointed the French side.

Speaking about his fellow Australian, Ricciardo revealed that he “felt” for what Piastri was going through, given that the entire saga wasn’t his fault.

“I felt for him,” Ricciardo told the Australian Grand Prix’s ‘In the Fast Lane’ podcast.

“Don’t get me wrong, of course, my career was kind of in a way going tits up so I was certainly very occupied with myself and trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do.

“But at the same time, I was aware of some of the comments and stuff that was going towards him… I felt for him for a few reasons.

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“This should be the biggest moment of your life, getting into Formula 1. It’s a dream come true and if it can’t really be enjoyed or celebrated then it’s a bit of a shame.

“It was just kind of how the chips fell. He was in the situation, but it’s not like he created the situation.

“It was just a product of all these things happening.”