‘Like Lewis Hamilton’: Oscar Piastri opens up on why he rejected Alpine for McLaren

Oscar Piastri shocked the F1 community by rejecting a full-time Alpine seat in favour of a move to McLaren.

Oscar Piastri’s 2023 switch from Alpine to McLaren is perhaps one of the most highly anticipated in years, given how highly the young Australian is regarded in the paddock.

The current Alpine reserve driver is part of a very exclusive club, of drivers who claimed the Formula 3 and Formula 2 World Championships in back-to-back seasons.

Piastri claimed F3 glory in 2020 before backing that up in F2 the following year, before sitting on the side-lines at Enstone this season.

Before the McLaren deal was announced, it was expected that the 21-year-old would be in a full-time seat in 2023, with Alpine having agreed a multi-year loan with Williams.

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This would’ve seen Piastri switch to the Grove-based team until Fernando Alonso decided to retire, as it was looking likely that the 41-year-old was going to remain at the French side.

As it turned out, Alonso and Piastri had different ideas, with it all kicking-off after the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Alonso announced that he’d be moving to Aston Martin in 2023 to replace Sebastian Vettel, leaving a seat open for Piastri.

The fourth-placed team then announced that the Aussie would be promoted to a full-time seat in 2023; however, this wasn’t what Piastri had planned.

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Piastri released a statement of his own, insisting he hadn’t signed a deal to race for Alpine and crucially wouldn’t be doing so either.

It then turned out that he didn’t sign for Alpine after a move to McLaren had been sealed, replacing fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo.

Things turned incredibly ugly over the whole saga, as Alpine were adamant that Piastri was contracted to race for them, which resulted in Alpine and McLaren appearing in front of the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board.

In-front of the board, it was discovered that Piastri had no contract with Alpine, with his deal with McLaren being the only binding deal he had to keep to.

As a result, Alpine announced that they were considering releasing Piastri from his reserve role early; however, it is now looking like they’re going to keep hold of him until the end of the season.

Obviously, though, Piastri isn’t going to be used in FP1 sessions for Alpine, with F2 driver Jack Doohan set to be used instead, starting this weekend at the Mexican Grand Prix.

It does put Piastri at a disadvantage going into 2023 already, given how his limited running in an F1 car has been further restricted following his fallout with Alpine.

Despite it all, he’s very excited for what the future holds, especially as the papaya-side “really wanted me”.

“A massive draw card of McLaren was you know they really, really wanted me, they wanted to invest in youth,” said Piastri on the PitStop podcast.

“You know, they’ve shown that through their previous years with people like Lando [Norris], like Lewis [Hamilton] so, you know, I think it’s sort of been in the team’s spirit and mentality, but I think it’s nice to have two young guys in there that can hopefully, you know, build the future and move forward with McLaren.”

McLaren aren’t expecting to get the services of Piastri until 2023, despite there having been some hope that they’d be able to get him before the close of the season.

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Whilst the Woking-based side weren’t planning on using him in FP1, they were at least hoping to get him used to the team’s set-up.

“They [Alpine] are still planning to keep going with the programme, as far as I understand, with Oscar until the end of the season,” said team boss Andreas Seidl.

“Therefore, there’s no news really.”