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McLaren expects Alpine to keep Piastri until end of F1 season

McLaren expects Alpine will keep hold of reserve driver Oscar Piastri until the end of the Formula 1 season, having previously considered an early release.

Oscar Piastri, Reserve Driver, Alpine F1 Team

Piastri will race for McLaren next year after a contract saga over the summer saw Alpine claim it had a deal in place for him to race in 2023, only for the Contract Recognition Board to rule in McLaren’s favour.

In the wake of losing the case, Alpine said it would review its existing relationship with Piastri that could have opened the door for him to join McLaren early.

But Piastri has since continued to work with Alpine in the simulator through race weekends, leaving McLaren to expect it will not link up with the Australian until after the season is over.

Asked if Alpine’s signing of Gasly for 2023 would help McLaren try and secure an early release for Piastri, team principal Andreas Seidl said: “I don’t think it changes a lot really.

“They’re still planning to keep going with the programme, as far as I understand, with Oscar until the end of the season.

“Therefore, there’s no news really.”

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal, McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal, McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Had McLaren been able to draft in Piastri before the end of the season, he would have been eligible to fulfil its young driver requirement for the two FP1 sessions this year.

But the team has announced these sessions will be taken by 2021 IndyCar champion Alex Palou and Arrow McLaren SP IndyCar driver Pato O’Ward in Austin and Abu Dhabi respectively.

Alpine is yet to firm up its plans for young driver FP1 running, but needs to complete the requirement across the final four races.

Alpine had planned to give the sessions to Piastri as far back as the French Grand Prix in mid-July, but team boss Otmar Szafnauer said at Suzuka he was “unsure” if the Australian would feature at any of the last four events.

An alternative option for Alpine would be Formula 2 driver Jack Doohan, whose impressive rookie campaign in the category put him in contention for the seat that was ultimately taken by Gasly.

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Szafnauer said Alpine would “start thinking more seriously” about its young driver plans for 2023 now its race line-up had been completed, but indicated Doohan’s priority would be fighting for the F2 title next season.

“Jack's immediate focus needs to be on winning the F2 championship next year,” said Szafnauer.

“We’ll support him through that process and help him along the way and give him some time in a car as well to prepare him for Formula 1.

“But yeah, we'll start looking at that, now that we've gotten through this step [confirming Gasly].”

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