Young Australian driver tipped to join McLaren, not Alpine

Fernando Alonso is leaving Alpine for Aston Martin next season, blowing the driver market wide open.

Former Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher does not believe Oscar Piastri will sign with Alpine to replace Fernando Alonso next season.

Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement from Formula 1 at the end of the current season last week, leaving his seat at Aston Martin available for next year.

After just a few days of speculation, Alonso was announced as the replacement for the four-time world champion.

It is the third time the Spaniard will have left the Enstone-based team after previously leaving in 2006 following the second of his two world titles, and again in 2009 after he re-signed with Renault when his relationship with McLaren broke down in 2007.

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The 41-year-old has scored points nine times this year, and the French side appear to be getting back to the front of the midfield, so the move to Silverstone is a strange one.

Piastri is Alpine’s reserve driver and the reigning Formula 2 champion having won four races last year, but he has previously been tipped for a seat with Williams.

It is not yet known whether his manager, and former F1 driver Mark Webber, has agreed any deals with either the Grove-based team or McLaren.

Journalist Adam Cooper suggested that there is a legal battle between Alpine and McLaren, with the French side adamant that Piastri should be in their car next year.

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However, Cooper reports that Webber has made a pre-deal with McLaren to put his compatriot in their car next year, and this could be strengthened by the fact that Ricciardo is being linked with a move back to Alpine.

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This would of course mean ending his own McLaren contract early, but both he and the team have affirmed that they intend to honour the 33-year-old’s deal until the end of 2023.

The official confirmations so far would indicate that, even if Webber has made a deal with the British team, there is no room in Woking.

That would leave Alpine, seemingly, with Piastri as their only option provided he is contractually available, but Schumacher does not see the 21-year-old driving with them in 2023.

“The pressure [on Alpine] is increasing,” he told Sky Sports.

“We are talking about a factory team that has been investing a lot of money in Formula One for years, but has not had enough success.

“As a young driver, he is too big a risk.”

Alpine already have Esteban Ocon locked in for next season, while Aston Martin have confirmed that Lance Stroll will be partnering Alonso.