The great game of musical chairs could leave Daniel Ricciardo without a seat in 2023.
The Aussie star last week re-affirmed his commitment to McLaren despite Sebastian Vettel’s shock retirement briefly leaving a vacant seat.
That was followed by the bombshell news Fernando Alonso was leaving Alpine, opening the door for Aussie Oscar Piastri to get behind the wheel for the F1 team.
It has been revealed Alonso’s current team, Alpine, learnt of the news of his move to Aston Martin at the exact same time as everyone else, through a press release.
Alpine are now set to play hard ball with talented youngster Piastri who is managed by Aussie legend Mark Webber.
Piastri and Webber are reported to have agreed to a deal with McLaren with Alpine’s plan to keep Alonso on board for one more season before installing Piastri behind the wheel.
Alonso’s bombshell defection, however, changed all of that.
The fine print on his deal with Alpine and the details of the reported arrangement Webber had with McLaren is potentially headed for a legal stoush.
Despite the storm, Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer has confirmed he has not spoken to Webber since Alonso’s news came out.
Szafnauer said while he wasn’t privy to an discussions between Piastri and McLaren, he reiterated the Aussie has contractual obligations to Alpine.
“I hear the same rumours that you do in the pitlane. But what I do know is that he does have contractual obligations to us. And we do to him. And we’ve been honouring those obligations all year,” Szafnauer said to Autosport.
“And those obligations, last through ‘23, and possibly in ‘24, if some options are taken up.”
The craziest development in the game of musical chairs is new speculation Ricciardo could be headed back to Alpine — the team he walked out on to join McLaren.
Ricciardo recently moved to silence all the rumours in a defiant Instagram message.
“There have been a lot of rumours around my future in Formula 1, but I want you to hear it from me,” he wrote.
“I am committed to McLaren until the end of next year and am not walking away from the sport. Appreciate it hasn’t always been easy, but who wants easy!
“I’m working my a** off with the team to make improvements and get the car right and back to the front where it belongs. I still want this more than ever.”
Ricciardo’s miserable season only got worse on Sunday, finishing 15th in the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring.