Ricciardo, McLaren differ on Piastri contract timeline

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ZANDVOORT, Netherlands — Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren appear to disagree on the transparency surrounding the team signing Oscar Piastri to replace him.

Piastri has finally been confirmed as the driver to replace Ricciardo next year after a protracted contract dispute between McLaren and Alpine.

On Friday, the contract recognition board verdict revealed that Piastri signed a two-year deal on July 4, a day after Ricciardo finished second to last at the British Grand Prix.

Nine days later, Ricciardo issued a defiant statement on Instagram that he intended to see out his contract through to the end of 2023, but by this point McLaren had already signed some kind of deal with Piastri.

It is unclear what the original contract with Piastri entailed, as rumours that circulated at the start of the F1 summer break were that it was a deal to serve as reserve driver in 2023 before replacing Ricciardo in 2024.

McLaren insists it was “fully open” with Ricciardo over the process, but the two parties disagree on how much he knew before the Wednesday announcement of the split.

“To be honest on the dates, that’s the first I’ve heard. I’m not aware of obviously timelines and what the team is discussing,” Ricciardo diplomatically told Sky Sports on Friday evening.

A source close to Ricciardo told ESPN: “To be clear, Daniel and his team did not know Oscar was signed when Daniel posted that statement on July 13th. At that point, there were discussions about Daniel’s future, but more so in the event he wanted to exercise his opt out.

“The team continued to ask Daniel his plans for next year, I guess hoping his answer would eventually change, but he continued to make his intention to stay with the team known. It wasn’t until Austria where he and his team were made aware the team was exploring other drivers for 2023.”

After the Hungarian Grand Prix at the end of July, McLaren communicated to Ricciardo that the team intended to explore other options for 2023 and a financial settlement was sorted in the weeks leading up to the announcement.

McLaren boss Andreas Seidl insisted Friday that Ricciardo was informed of what was going on at all times.

“Obviously, we don’t go into the details of the contract that we signed with Oscar,” Seidl said on Friday in a news conference after the Piastri signing was announced.

“Regarding Daniel, as we have communicated last week, I think throughout this year Daniel, Zak and myself had an open and transparent dialogue at any time of where we both are. Therefore, there is no issue in that aspect.”

Ricciardo is yet to confirm his next move. Taking the Alpine seat that Piastri didn’t want seems like his best option for 2023, but it is believed the team are sceptical about taking him back after he left the team for McLaren in 2021.

Haas and Williams are the only two teams with an available seat on next year’s grid.

Ricciardo said on Thursday he is open to the idea of taking a year out in 2023 in the hope of finding a better opportunity the following year and did not rule out taking a reserve driver role.

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