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DESPITE OLD HISTORY, SZAFNAUER SAYS RICCIARDO DOOR STILL OPEN


Published at 8/4/2022

The potential shuffling of Formula 1 seats from the Oscar Piastri fallout has developed yet another angle, with Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer declaring that the door is not shut on Daniel Ricciardo should he be seeking a drive elsewhere.

As reported by motorsport.com, Szafnauer said that he had already “fielded a bunch of calls from other drivers.”

When quizzed directly about the possibility of Ricciardo returning to the Enstone based Alpine team, Szafnauer told motorsport.com that the door was not shut on the Aussie speedster, as life in Formula 1 goes on.

“I mean, if you look at Fernando, for example, he comes and goes, and I think that happens to other drivers too,” Szafnauer said.

“And I don’t think that’s an issue at all. I think what we need to focus on is, like I say, the plans that we have for the next 89-88 races.

“We’ve got to make sure that we complement that plan with the best driver that we can, and there are some options out there for us. And we put the best driver in next to Esteban Ocon, so that we can move forward towards what we’ve been planning.”

The Alpine team that Ricciardo left was under the thumb of a different owner in Cyril Abiteboul, but is now under control of Szafnauer and Laurent Rossi.

The Aussie announced his intentions to leave for McLaren just months into his second year at the team, leaving behind a huge 25 million dollar deal. 

Szafnauer alluded to the fact that Alpine are not yet giving up on Piastri, relating the situation to Jenson Button’s legal standoff with BAR when he threatened a move to Williams, but ultimately stayed.

“I have seen it where a driver actually signed with another team incorrectly, so had to drive for the team that he initially signed with.

“And it was absolutely no issue. Jenson at the time did a stellar job at BAR, and never ended up at Williams.”

Although Piastri has definitively said he will not be racing at Alpine, a legal battle is obviously not out of the question, making it almost a mirror image of the Chip Ganassi/Alex Palou situation in the IndyCar over in the States.

So where could Ricciardo end up if he is pushed out of Mclaren?

With American IndyCar driver Logan Sergeant a chance to be at Williams next year in Latifi’s seat, potentially appeasing the American push by Liberty Media, A lot of doors may soon be shutting for the affable Aussie if he is without a seat, though it is hard to believe he will be without one.

If seats shuffle at Haas, as is the rumour mill for Mick Schumacher, a seat may become open at the Banbury team for Ricciardo.

It’s all speculation of course, but it’s speculation based upon the reality of what’s happening.

Seats need to be filled, and seats will be swapped, making this months F1 break a tantalising platform of non-racing drama. 

For more of the latest motorsport news pick up the current issue of Auto Action.

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