Who is Oscar Piastri? Future F1 driver’s row with Alpine team explained - will Australian drive for McLaren

The starlet - who is managed by former racing driver Mark Webber - is being linked with McLaren F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo’s seat

F1 has entered its summer break after Max Verstappen claimed victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix 2022.

It has left the Dutchman as the clear frontrunner for this year’s Drivers World Championship, as closest rival Charles Leclerc lost even more ground in the title race.

The mid-season hiatus is famous for seeing the F1 driver transfer rumour mill swing into action, as the teams begin to name their driver line-ups for 2023.

One team whose plans for next season are already in disarray is Alpine F1.

Alpine believe they have Oscar Piastri tied to a contract for the 2023 season (image: Getty Images)

So, what has happened to the Enstone team - and who is Oscar Piastri?

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is Alpine F1?

Alpine F1 is one of the 10 teams making up the 2022 F1 grid, and currently sits fourth in the Constructors Championship standings.

Formerly known as Renault, the outfit is now named after one of Renault’s sports car brands - Alpine.

It currently has two-time world champion Fernando Alonso as its de facto lead driver, while Esteban Ocon - himself a Grand Prix winner - is the other driver on its roster.

Oscar Piastri drives the 2021 Alpine at Abu Dhabi after the end of last season (image: Getty Images)

All F1 teams have at least one reserve driver who can fill in on a race weekend if one of their main drivers falls ill or is unable to race for another reason.

In Alpine’s case, this driver is Oscar Piastri.

Who is Oscar Piastri?

Oscar Piastri, 21, is a highly-rated racing driver from Australia.

He has had a meteoric rise to F1, winning the Formula Renault Eurocup, F3/GP3 and F2 titles over the last three motor racing seasons.

This feat means the young Australian has come to the pinnacle of the sport with more back-to-back silverware than any previous driver.

He is mentored by former Red Bull driver and multiple race winner Mark Webber.

While contracted to Alpine as its reserve driver, it was announced in March 2022 that Oscar Piastri would also be a reserve for the team’s World Championship rivals McLaren.

What is Oscar Piastri’s dispute with Alpine F1?

Alpine’s plans for the 2023 F1 season were thrown into disarray when Fernando Alonso announced he was leaving to join the Aston Martin F1 team.

A seat had become available at Lawrence Stroll’s team after four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel revealed he would be retiring at the end of the 2022 season.

The 41-year-old Spaniard was reportedly close to signing a deal to retain his seat at the Enstone outfit, but opted for Aston Martin on Monday (1 August).

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso will race for Aston Martin in 2023 (image: Getty Images)

It is believed they offered Alonso a two-year contract rather than the one-year deal on the table with Alpine.

On Tuesday (2 August), Alpine announced Oscar Piastri was going to be promoted to take Fernando Alonso’s race seat.

The press release carried a statement from Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer, who described him as “a bright and rare talent".

However, there was no comment from the driver himself, which suggested he had not been consulted on the decision.

The racing driver confirmed this on Twitter late on Tuesday, saying the press release had gone out without his agreement.

“This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year,” Piastri wrote on his account.

It has been reported that Alpine believe they have Piastri tied to a contract that means he will be their driver next season.

Who could Oscar Piastri drive for in 2023?

Speculation has been rife about who Oscar Piastri could drive for in 2023.

He is most heavily linked with McLaren, where fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo has struggled to achieve results since arriving from Renault in 2021.

Indeed, Ricciardo was initially linked with a seat at Alpine when it was announced Fernando Alonso was going to leave the team.

It means there is the prospect of a swap deal being made between the two teams.

Oscar Piastri could race for McLaren (image: Getty Images)

The other team in the frame for Piastri is Williams.

Currently sitting last in both the drivers’ and constructors’ standings, the Oxfordshire-based team has yet to extend Nicholas Latifi’s contract beyond the end of the 2022 season.

It means they are currently the only team to have a free seat for 2023 - although other teams could yet announce they are changing their line-ups.

The other option for Piastri is taking up the seat at Alpine.

However, this eventuality only seems likely if Alpine can prove they have a contract binding Piastri to the team for the 2023 season.

To do so, the contractual dispute will probably have to go before the contract recognition board (CRB) of the FIA - F1’s governing body.

Oscar Piastri has more racing pedigree than any other F1 rookie (image: Getty Images)

Comprised of independent lawyers, this dispute mechanism would decide if the team has any hold over the Australian driver.

The CRB was previously called into action when former world champion Jenson Button attempted to leave British American Racing (BAR) for Williams in 2004.

BAR claimed to hold the right to exercise a contractual option over the British driver, with the CRB ruling in the team’s favour.