Just a day after Fernando Alonso announced his shock departure from Alpine to join Aston Martin from 2023, the Enstone team has now confirmed that its reserve driver Oscar Piastri will take on the vacant seat.
"After four years as part of the Renault and Alpine family, Reserve Driver Oscar Piastri is promoted to a race seat alongside Esteban Ocon starting from 2023," the team has confirmed Piastri's promotion.
The Australian, who has been under the wings of former F1 race winner Mark Webber, became the third driver after Charles Leclerc and George Russell to win both the FIA F3 and F2 championship in his debut year.
Despite his eye-catching success in the junior series, the 21-year-old failed to find a seat at the pinnacle of motorsport for 2022 as Alpine decided to compete with the line-up of Alonso and Esteban Ocon. The Melbourne native therefore needs to spend this season on the sidelines.
Although Piastri does not race this year, he has been an integral part of the team by traveling to F1 races, taking part in briefings, working in the Enstone simulator. Moreover, Alpine set up a 5000km test programme with the team's 2021 machine.
Piastri was believed to join Williams for 2023 on a loan deal before potentially getting the promotion to Alpine. However, Sebastian Vettel' shock retirement from the sport left a seat vacant at Aston Martin which Alonso unexpectedly and suddenly took on yesterday. With Alpine's two-time world champion leaving Enstone, the team needed a replacement.
In the meantime, it was rumoured in the Hungaroring paddock that Piastri could be signed up by McLaren with the rumours prompting Alpine Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer to get in contact with Webber. Alpine has now confirmed that Piastri will race alongside Ocon next year.
Speaking about Piastri, Szafnauer previously 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.
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.— Oscar Piastri (@OscarPiastri) August 2, 2022
Piastri did not initially comment on Alpine's announcement, but later reacted on social media: "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."
The Australian is now tipped to have signed a contract with McLaren that is why he denied his promotion as race driver at Alpine.