Report: McLaren to replace Daniel Ricciardo with Oscar Piastri

McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia smiles at the Losail International Circuit in Losail, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021 ahead of the Qatar Formula One Grand Prix. (Darko Bandic/AP)

McLaren has told Daniel Ricciardo it intends to replace him with Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri next season, ESPN’s Nate Saunders reports.

Ricciardo was reportedly informed by team boss Andreas Seidl about McLaren’s decision after the Hungarian Grand Prix and is working on a settlement agreement. Ricciardo’s contract was set to expect after the 2023 season.

The move comes after Alpine announced Piastri as the team’s replacement for Fernando Alonso, who surprised them by announcing he would join Aston Martin next season. Piastri said he would not drive for Alpine despite the team announcing him as their second driver next season.

“I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine F1 have put out a press release late this afternoon that I am driving for them next year. This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year,” he wrote on Twitter.

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer had suggested before signing Piastri that there would be no issue with Ricciardo returning to the team he left at the end of 2020. Alpine believes they are in a strong legal standing to keep Piastri from joining McLaren.

“I do know he does have contractual obligations to us and we do to him. We have been honouring those obligations all year,” Szafnauer told the BBC. “We do have a legal contract with him into the future with ’23 and if an option is taken up, for ’24.”

Ricciardo has been outperformed by teammate Lando Norris this season, leading to speculation that McLaren may go in another direction with their No. 2 spot. Back 13 July, Ricciardo released a statement insisting he was committed to F1 and determined to stay with McLaren to the end of his contract next year.

McLaren also brought on IndyCar drivers Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta as test drivers with both expressing an interest in making the move to F1.

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