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Formula 1

Szafnauer does not rule out Ricciardo’s return to Alpine

Daniel Ricciardo. Credits: @OsOfficialF1 (Twitter).

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer believes that there are no issues regarding Daniel Ricciardo’s possible return to the team despite his departure in 2020.

The situation around the vacant Alpine seat for the 2023 season got a dramatic development on Tuesday. Alpine announced that Oscar Piastri would drive for them next year, while the Australian denied it several hours later.

Piastri and his manager Mark Webber are understood to have reached an agreement with McLaren, though Szafnauer insists that the Australian is obliged to race for Alpine.

If Alpine do not manage to keep Piastri, they will have to look for a driver elsewhere. Ricciardo may be an option as he is likely to be replaced by his compatriot should he join McLaren. However, the 33-year-old was in the team before (then called Renault) and left it after the 2020 season. That reportedly left Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo frustrated.

Nevertheless, Szafnauer thinks that it is possible for Ricciardo to make a comeback as Alpine’s priority is to complete their plan of getting to the top of the pecking order.

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

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