The Alpine-Piastri-McLaren drama has seemingly come to an end. The Contract Recognition Board (CRB) has ruled that Oscar Piastri, the reigning Formula 2 Champion and Alpine reserve driver, will be racing with Lando Norris for McLaren from the 2023 season onwards.
The CRB had a meeting on August 29 with McLaren and Alpine to sort out the dispute, which saw Piastri decline a Formula One seat offered by Alpine only for the French team to take the matter to the CRB. Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso had earlier announced his decision to part with Alpine at the end of the 2022 season, and Alpine had announced Piastri as his replacement. Piastri, however, who is an Alpine reserve driver, then put out a statement of his own, denying the reports that he had signed a contract with Alpine and stated that he would not be driving for them. Immediately, multiple reports started suggesting that Piastri declined the Alpine seat because he already had a seat secured for the upcoming season, and that his most likely destination would be McLaren. Alpine, though, insisted that they had a valid contract with Piastri which would hold up in front of the CRB.
Just hours before the second Free Practice got underway at the Dutch Grand Prix, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) released a statement with regards to this matter and the CRB’s decision.
The statement released by the FIA read:
“A Tribunal appointed by the Contract Recognition Board held a meeting on 29 August 2022 when counsel for Alpine Racing Limited, McLaren Racing Limited and Mr Oscar Piastri were heard. The Tribunal has issued a Unanimous Decision that the only Contract to be recognised by the Board is the Contract between McLaren Racing Limited and Mr Piastri dated 4 July 2022. Mr Piastri is entitled to drive for McLaren Racing Limited for the 2023 and 2024 seasons. The members of the Tribunal comprised of Ian Hunter QC presiding, Prof. Klaus Peter Berger, Matthieu de Boisseson and Stefano Azzali.“
McLaren themselves, shortly after the release of the FIA’s statement, put out one of their own, announcing that the young Australian would be replacing his compatriot Daniel Ricciardo from the 2023 season onwards as part of a multi-year deal.
Speaking about making his Formula One debut with McLaren, Piastri stated:
“I’m extremely excited to be making my F1 debut with such a prestigious team as McLaren and I’m very grateful for the opportunity that’s been offered to me. The team has a long tradition of giving young talent a chance, and I’m looking forward to working hard alongside Lando to push the team towards the front of the grid. I’m focused on preparing for my F1 debut in 2023 and starting my F1 career in papaya.“
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal, McLaren Formula One team, said:
“The entire team is delighted to welcome Oscar to McLaren for the 2023 F1 season. He has an impressive racing career to date, and we are sure that together with Lando, he will be able to help us move another step forward towards our ambitions. We still have an important job to do this season which the team remains focused on, before we will then ensure Oscar is integrated into the team as quickly as possible and ready for the challenges ahead. We look forward to preparing for an exciting 2023 season together.“
Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, added:
“Oscar is one of the up-and-coming talents coming through the feeder series into F1 and we are delighted to see him join the team for 2023. Winning both F3 and F2 in successive rookie seasons is a real achievement and testament to his talent in single-seater racing. In Lando and Oscar we have a young, exciting F1 line-up with a huge amount of potential, standing us in good stead to achieve our future ambitions. Oscar is an exciting addition to the McLaren family, and we look forward to seeing him grow with our F1 team.“
Alpine themselves also responded to the CRB’s decision, putting out a statement that read:
“BWT Alpine F1 Team thanks the Contract Recognition Board (CRB) for convening on Monday and we acknowledge the decision they have made. We consider the matter closed on our side and will announce our full 2023 driver line-up in due course.
“Our immediate focus is the Dutch Grand Prix and securing points in our fight for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship.“
Although Alpine haven’t announced who will be partnering Esteban Ocon from the 2023 season onwards, the likely candidates are Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo himself, with Gasly being the front-runner to replace Alonso, as reports suggest the Frenchman has already finalised the exit clause from his Red Bull agreement to join the French team.