Oscar Piastri won last year’s Formula 2 Championship
Alpine have promoted their reserve driver Oscar Piastri to fill the vacancy in 2023 left by Fernando Alonso’s move to Aston Martin.
The announcement came hours after team boss Otmar Szafnauer was unable to confirm Piastri would race, despite having “contractual obligations”.
An Alpine statement said Piastri would race “in line with the commitments made by the team to the young Australian”.
There was no quote from Piastri in the media release.
The 21-year-old is known to have had conversations with McLaren in recent weeks, as Alpine discussed a contract renewal with Alonso.
Alpine wanted Alonso to stay and were trying to secure a deal to loan Piastri, the reigning Formula 2 champion, to Williams next year.
Szafnauer admitted in a news conference on Tuesday morning that Piastri’s unwillingness to drive for Williams was “a consideration” and said he was “not privy to whatever pre-arrangement [Piastri] has with McLaren, if any any all”.
He added: “I do know he does have contractual obligations to us and we do to him. We have been honouring those obligations all year.
“We do have a legal contract with him into the future with ’23 and and if an option is taken up, for ’24.”
And he said that Alpine would “sit down and progress what our future driver line-up is going to be, and the choices aren’t different”.
Szafnauer admitted that the team had been surprised by Alonso’s decision to move to Aston Martin, and that it had been because the two-time champion had wanted a longer confirmed contract than Alpine were prepared to offer him.
He also said he had been having problems getting in touch with Piastri’s manager, the former F1 driver Mark Webber, adding: “Oscar and his camp are ‘considering their options’, whatever that means.”
Alpine did not initially respond to questions from BBC Sport as to whether they had since spoken to Webber, who Szafnauer said was in Australia.
A statement from the team said: “Oscar is a bright and rare talent. We are proud to have nurtured and supported him through the difficult pathways of the junior formulae.
“Through our collaboration over the past four years, we have seen him develop and mature into a driver who is more than capable of taking the step up to Formula 1.
“As our reserve driver, he has been exposed to the team at the track, factory and testing where he has shown the maturity, promise and speed to ensure his promotion to our second seat alongside Esteban.
“Together, we believe the duo will give us the continuity we need to achieve our long-term goal of challenging for wins and championships.”
Source by www.bbc.co.uk