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Oscar Piastri heralds the changing of the Australian guard in Formula One

Formula One’s ‘silly season’ has certainly lived up to its name in 2022.

As you know by now, Sebastian Vettel’s retirement created a vacant seat at Aston Martin for next season, which was filled by Fernando Alonso.

Cue the celebrations for Oscar Piastri fans! The talented 21-year-old Australian could finally make his debut for Alpine!

Except, he wouldn’t.

Just two hours after Alpine had announced that Piastri would be making his F1 debut for them in 2023, Piastri released a statement on social media to say otherwise.

In that Tweet posted on August 2, Piastri wrote, “I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023.’

On his tour of press conferences and media pens at the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend, Alpine team principal, Otmar Szafnauer would have had you believe otherwise.

However, Piastri was right.

As much as some sections of the media lapped up Szafnauer’s claims, the results from the appeal to the Contract Recognition Board (CRB) have revealed that Alpine went to the CRB to defend a contract that didn’t exist.

“The only contract to be recognised is the contact between McLaren and Piastri dated 4 July 2022,” the CRB said in its ruling. “Piastri is entitled to drive for McLaren for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.”

And with that five weeks of speculation and accusations was over.

Oscar Piastri made the decision that was right for him.

Oscar Piastri.

Oscar Piastri celebrates at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. (Photo by Joe Portlock – Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images)

As Formula Renault Eurocup champion in 2019, Formula 3 champion in 2020 – in his first F3 season – and Formula 2 champion in 2021 – also in his first season in that championship – Piastri comes into motorsport’s top tier with a stellar career in the junior formulas under his belt.

Those credentials are why Piastri has been such a big talking point in the sport for the past year or so. He is very deserving of a Formula One seat, and will surely be relieved that he knows he is guaranteed a full-time drive next season.

There will be no more of the uncertainty that he has been frustrated by, and has no doubt been a deciding factor in his decision to be tempted away from Alpine.

It will be interesting to see how Piastri settles in at McLaren, where he takes the seat vacated by Daniel Ricciardo, whose contract will end early at the end of this season.

Where does this all leave Ricciardo then?

Alpine, AlphaTauri and Haas have all been mentioned since Ricciardo’s departure from McLaren was announced last week, but the Western Australian’s future in Formula One is far from certain at this stage.

It would be a shame to lose Daniel Ricciardo from the grid, but McLaren had to do what they felt was in their best interests. Ricciardo has fallen into mediocrity results wise this season, despite his best efforts.

It’s very hard not to ask the same question that’s been hanging over Ricciardo for years: should he have left Red Bull in 2018?

Even at the time, it looked like Ricciardo would end up in the sort of situation he finds himself in now, bogged down in midfield teams, unable to replicate past glories. Of course, Max Verstappen’s rise contributed to Ricciardo’s decision but at the end of the day it was always a risk to give up what he had.

Not that things were destined to play out the way they did, but it is one element of how unfortunate Ricciardo has been these past four seasons on the whole. It’s a sad sight to see Ricciardo as deflated as he has been in recent weeks, with his beaming smile wiped off his face.

For now, one thing’s for sure. It looks like it will be a changing of the guard in terms of Australian Formula One drivers. Like Daniel Ricciardo took the seat vacated by Mark Webber at Red Bull in 2014, Oscar Piastri will take the seat vacated by Ricciardo at McLaren in 2023.

Let’s hope for the best, and celebrate another Australian success story continuing to play out on the world stage.

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