McLaren has told Daniel Ricciardo it intends to replace him with Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri next season, a source close to the Australian driver has confirmed to ESPN.
ESPN understands Ricciardo was informed of the decision by team boss Andreas Seidl after the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday evening and is now in discussions with the team over a financial settlement to leave his contract a year earlier than its 2023 expiration date.
Multiple sources have told ESPN McLaren and Piastri have signed a deal for next year and now only Alpine’s appeal to the FIA contract recognition board could stop him driving there.
On Tuesday, Alpine announced Piastri would replace Aston Martin-bound Fernando Alonso but Piastri tweeted over an hour later saying he would not race for the French team next year.
Assuming McLaren’s contract with Piastri is upheld, Ricciardo now seems likely to take the Alpine seat his fellow Australian did not want for the 2023 season, which would mean a smaller pay-out than if he sat out for the full year.
Ricciardo raced at Alpine when it was known as Renault in 2019 and 2020 and the management team has completely changed since he left for McLaren.
Ricciardo was one of the grid’s strongest performers in 2020 and there is a feeling in the Formula One paddock that he needs a change of scenery to return to his old form.
New Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer recently said he would have no objections with Ricciardo coming back to the team.
A move to the French team would also come with the appealing prospect of racing McLaren on track next year, with the two teams fighting for fourth in this year’s championship and likely to be similarly matched next season.
A left-field option would be for Ricciardo to replace Mick Schumacher at Haas, although it is believed Ferrari has the final say over that seat at the American team.
According to a report in Racer.com, McLaren is stalling on officially announcing Piastri until Ricciardo can find himself a drive elsewhere on next year’s grid.
The Piastri coup is as big a moment for McLaren as it is embarrassing for Alpine, who look set to have lost a two-time world champion and a potential future world champion to rival teams in the space of 72 hours.
Piastri, 21, will join Lando Norris, 22, for his rookie year in what will be a strong candidate for the best young driver pairing on the F1 grid.