Oscar Piastri has been conspicuous in his absence from the public eye in Formula 1 since his rejection of Alpine in favour of a McLaren move was ratified by Formula 1’s Contract Recognition Board.
Piastri has been Alpine’s reserve driver this year as part of a programme that the Renault works team envisaged would eventually lead him to take a race seat in the future.
However, as Piastri and his camp did not want to go along with Alpine’s plan to loan him out to Williams for 2023 and 2024, a deal with McLaren was done in secret early in the summer.
Alpine tried to block that move by arguing it had a valid contract with Piastri but the CRB ruled otherwise, leading McLaren to formally announce Piastri as a race driver in place of Daniel Ricciardo in 2023.
That came on the Dutch Grand Prix weekend in early September but Piastri has not been in the F1 paddock since he publicly rejected Alpine’s claim he would drive for the team in 2023 in early August.
It is believed that having initially continued to conduct simulator work and race weekend support for Alpine at Enstone after the summer break, Piastri has been stood down from those duties.
However, he has not been formally released from the team as this would allow him to join up with McLaren early and potentially even run in the post-season Abu Dhabi test.
Alpine was not thought to be keen to facilitate that, so instead Piastri has effectively been parked. An update on his future could come soon, though.
In Mexico last weekend, Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer answered carefully when asked by The Race about Piastri’s status but said: “I think our legal teams are discussing that now.
“There’ll be more next week. So, ask me in Brazil.”
Jack Doohan is a logical alternative to Piastri to become Alpine’s reserve driver full-time in 2023.
Doohan is set to be racing in F2 again but has completed 2021 F1 car testing in private this year, made his FP1 debut in Mexico and will drive again on the Friday in Abu Dhabi.
Szafnauer confirmed Doohan is also among the options for a reserve role but said “we haven’t made that decision yet”.
Though there is no official news yet, Doohan is likely to take part in the post-season Abu Dhabi test alongside incoming Alpine driver Pierre Gasly, who has been signed to take the vacant Fernando Alonso seat that the team initially wanted Piastri to fill.
Reports in Spanish media have also suggested Alonso is free to drive for his new team Aston Martin in the post-season test, while Gasly’s AlphaTauri replacement Nyck de Vries could drive there too.
The only 2023 signing not currently expected to drive for their new team in the test is Piastri, although McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl would not confirm that either way in Mexico.
“There’s not really an update from our side,” he said.
“It’s a discussion between Oscar, his team and Alpine. And no updates for the moment.”