Daniel Ricciardo’s potential McLaren replacement accused of playing ‘very dangerous game’

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A former F1 champion has warned Oscar Piastri he’s playing a ‘dangerous game’ after the bizarre saga over the Australian’s future took another twist this week. Piastri, 21, is currently the reserve driver at Alpine, and was announced by the team as their 2023 driver in place of Fernando Alonso after the Spaniard confirmed he was off to Aston Martin.

But in a sensational twist, Piastri then released a tweet denying that notion was true, saying: “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.”

In the meantime, speculation was growing over the future of compatriot Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren, following an underwhelming season-and-a-half with the British team. On Wednesday, ‘The Honey Badger’ confirmed he would be exiting the team having agreed an early release from his contract.

“2022 will be my last year with McLaren,” he said, on a video posted on social media. “We put in a lot of effort on both sides but it hasn’t worked the way we wanted so the team has decided to make a change for next year.”

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His announcement has led to widespread assumption that it’s Piastri who will be joining Lando Norris, but now Jacques Villeneuve has questioned whether the youngster will be trusted, irrespective of who he joins: “This one is fun to watch because it just surprised everyone,” Villeneuve told Reuters.

“To start like that with that kind of pressure is not easy. It brings to your name into question that whenever a team or sponsor will sign a deal with you there will always be this question, umm how will we be treated? What will happen when we trust this person? It’s a very dangerous game to play.”

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Piastri’s credentials are impressive, having enjoyed multiple title successes before joining F1. He won the 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup with R-ace GP, the 2020 FIA Formula 3 Championship and the 2021 Formula 2 Championship with Prema Racing.

But 1997 champion Villeneuve said F1 will represent a “huge step up in talent, pressure and mental ability,” adding: “Piastri has been amazing all the way through but how is he in F1 we don’t know yet. That is the big question.”

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