In a bumper Driver Market Special, Sky Sports F1 pundits Johnny Herbert, Paul Di Resta, Naomi Schiff, David Croft and Natalie Pinkham discuss the big transfer market topics, from Oscar Piastri’s decision to Daniel Ricciardo’s future
YouTube Due to your consent preferences, you’re not able to view this Privacy Options
Oscar Piastri has put his reputation at risk and will be under a “huge amount of pressure” if he joins McLaren next season, while Daniel Ricciardo should consider a move to Haas, say the Sky Sports F1 pundits.
In a bumper Driver Market Special on Sky Sports F1’s YouTube channel, Johnny Herbert, Paul Di Resta, Naomi Schiff and David Croft joined Natalie Pinkham to discuss the key topics from a wild transfer saga.
- Verstappen outpaces Ferrari as Mercedes struggle at Spa
- Verstappen and Leclerc take big Belgian GP grid penalties
- Williams in ‘no rush’ over 2023 line-up amid Ricciardo links
- When to watch the Belgian GP on Sky Sports F1
McLaren intend to sign Piastri to replace Ricciardo, whose deal will be terminated at the end of 2022, although there is a contractual tug of war with Alpine, who believe they have the right to their young reserve driver’s services.
Ricciardo, meanwhile, has limited options available as he looks to extend his F1 career.
What now in the driver market? The pundits debate…
Watch the video at the top of the article and watch the Belgian GP all live on Sky Sports F1, with qualifying at 3pm on Saturday and the race at 2pm on Sunday.
Delving into the Piastri drama and Alpine ‘loyalty’
Piastri, the 21-year-old Alpine reserve, had an option to drive at Williams for next season before Fernando Alonso’s shock announcement that he was leaving Alpine for Aston Martin left a spot open at the team who had funded his junior career.
But while Alpine announced Piastri as Alonso’s replacement, the Australian soon refuted his team’s claim and insisted he would be driving elsewhere, having been in negotiations for some time with McLaren.
The Sky F1 pundits believe he risks damaging his dazzling reputation.
Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer says he believes current reserve driver Oscar Piastri has signed with McLaren for next season. Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer says he believes current reserve driver Oscar Piastri has signed with McLaren for next season.
“He was champion in Renault Eurocup and champion in two junior series following that, all paid for by Renault and Alpine,” said Crofty. “As were the six tests he’s had as well, 3500km of testing.
“It’s difficult to put the price on that, but it’s about £6m. That young man’s development, going with Prema to give him a better chance of winning the Formula 2 championship, they have delivered absolutely everything.
“To turn his back on that, that’s the massive risk for me. Because you are walking away from the team that have nurtured you. You are giving them a chance to allow you to repay that investment.”
There could be a decision from the Contract Recognition Board on Piastri’s future and whether he is free to leave Alpine as early as Monday, but Crofty added: “I think even if they rule in Alpine’s favour, do you really want a driver who clearly doesn’t want to be there?”
Schiff, meanwhile, stated: “I can see from both sides why they’ve done what they’ve done.
Aston Martin F1 team principal Mike Krack says his team is privileged to have Fernando Alonso join from 2023 Aston Martin F1 team principal Mike Krack says his team is privileged to have Fernando Alonso join from 2023
“For Piastri, he’s been out of a seat for a year already and he’s going to want to come into the sport and have the best possible chance for his career. So while Alpine were still having conversations with Alonso and still keeping that seat for Alonso, Piastri’s got to have his best interests at heart as well.
“From the other side, they’ve invested so much into his career, and from a loyalty perspective, I don’t think Oscar has done the right thing, and maybe for his reputation that won’t be a good thing.”
Is it a risk for McLaren to sign Piastri? | ‘He’s under a huge amount of pressure’
Piastri is one of the most highly-rated juniors in recent memory, having followed in Charles Leclerc and George Russell’s footsteps by winning the Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles in consecutive years.
But he is still an unknown quantity in motorsport’s premier category, and would be stepping into a tough seat alongside emerging superstar Lando Norris, which the mega-talented Daniel Ricciardo massively struggled in.
“Is it a risk for McLaren?” pondered Herbert.
“I don’t think it is because I think he has the skillset. He is definitely one of those new generation who has proved how good he is.”
Fernando Alonso says he was not as supported by Alpine due to his age and is very happy to join the Aston Martin project Fernando Alonso says he was not as supported by Alpine due to his age and is very happy to join the Aston Martin project
“I don’t think Daniel was delivering what they wanted anyway,” agreed Schiff. “I think it’s a good decision for them to make as whoever was going to bring in they were going to be as good as Daniel, if not better, and a lot cheaper.”
Di Resta, however, believes it may be tough entering a big team under so much pressure.
“There’s no argument of his talent,” said Di Resta. “The best judge are Alpine, and he’s already been testing there.
“They’ve put a lot of investment into him. It’s a huge amount of pressure his management team have put on, with all this going on in the background.
“If he doesn’t come in and succeed within McLaren early at such a young age, has he got the mindset? Is he McLaren’s answer to performance? Is Lando Norris that special?
“That’s what we need to know. We think Daniel just wasn’t in tune with the car. But Oscar is a huge talent.”
What now for Ricciardo? Could he return to Alpine?
If they fail in their Piastri quest, Alpine have the most competitive seat available for Ricciardo to move into for 2023 although the team are owned by Renault, who the Australian disgruntled by joining McLaren less than two years ago.
Both Ricciardo and Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer, though, have said they would be open for a reunion.
Daniel Ricciardo sits down with Rachael Brookes to discuss his exit from McLaren Daniel Ricciardo sits down with Rachael Brookes to discuss his exit from McLaren
“Daniel left Renault but I think he excelled at the end of 2020, so why would you not take a chance – at least for a year?” said Di Resta.
“There’s no reason for him not to go back in terms of what he was unhappy about, isn’t there anymore – the management structure,” added Crofty. “He gets on brilliantly with the senior engineers. But do you want to go back and try again?”
Or is Haas his best bet?
Haas, too, have been public in insisting they have a spot available and Ricciardo would represent a marquee signing for the US team.
Di Resta stated: “If [Alpine] doesn’t happen, I don’t think he’ll stick around in Formula 1.
“You’re not going to find him at a team like Haas. I can’t see that.”
However, Crofty argued: “For me, a perfect fit would be to go and have a chat with Guenther Steiner [Haas team boss].
Red Bull F1 team principal Christian Horner says he is saddened by the announcement McLaren are to replace Daniel Ricciardo for the 2023 season, adding he is ‘one of the best guys’ in the sport Red Bull F1 team principal Christian Horner says he is saddened by the announcement McLaren are to replace Daniel Ricciardo for the 2023 season, adding he is ‘one of the best guys’ in the sport
“It’s not a perfect choice but I think of what’s available to him if not Alpine, it’s probably the best.
“On paper it’s not a bad car, and I think Daniel would be a better qualifier than someone like Mick (Schumacher). You want to go where you’re loved. If he goes to Haas, he’s going to be loved.
“Would he be as loved if he goes back to Alpine? I don’t know.”
Schiff ruled Williams out of the running by saying: “This is about redemption, and I don’t think he’s going to be able to get that at Williams.”