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Alpine to consider Piastri early release

Alpine will decide next week on a possible early release of reserve driver Oscar Piastri now that he is joining Formula One rivals McLaren for 2023, team principal Otmar Szafnauer says.

McLaren confirmed on Friday 21-year-old Australian Piastri will race for them after the sport’s Contract Recognition Board ruled in their favour against Renault-owned Alpine, who had also wanted him in their car.

Piastri is not attending this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, remaining at Alpine’s factory at Enstone in England to carry out simulator work.

He already has a role with both teams after McLaren signed a reserve sharing agreement with Alpine in March, before the start of the season.

“He’ll continue this weekend. There’s only a couple of days left, today and tomorrow. And then on Monday we’ll get together with him and decide how we go forward,” Szafnauer told reporters at Zandvoort on Saturday.

“We’ll decide on Monday,” he repeated when asked whether Alpine would consider an early release to McLaren. “I don’t want to think about it here because there’s more considerations to be had.”

The Italian Grand Prix is next weekend at Monza, a circuit where Piastri had originally been expected to take part in first free practice with Alpine as part of a program preparing him for Formula One.

There is now no benefit for Alpine in keeping Piastri embedded with a team fighting McLaren for fourth in the championship.

Szafnauer said Alpine had plenty of drivers interested in replacing double world champion Fernando Alonso for next season, now that Piastri was not an option, and would take time to consider.

“You want the fastest driver that you can get, one with experience, consistency and speed. We’ll be looking at who’s available to fill that role,” he added.

The frontrunner in paddock speculation is Frenchman Pierre Gasly, who would have to be freed from a contract with Red Bull-owned AlphaTauri.

Other options would be Australian Daniel Ricciardo, whose place Piastri is taking, and Haas’s German driver Mick Schumacher.

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