Pulling enough interest out of the recent Sebastian Vettel/Fernando Alonso and Alpine/Aston Martin story to keep one awake was tricky business.
Until Oscar Piastri blew French waters apart.
“Jesus, this is a tepid stuff.”
In the aftermath of Sebastian Vettel’s retirement announcement and the post-Hungaroring revelation that Fernando Alonso was moving from Alpine to replace him came a river of turgid, meandering words.
Not that there was anything mundane about the transfer of talent itself following on from the retirement announcement of Vettel, but rather it was the execution of the various stories that lacked inspiration.
Traditionally at this point, analysis follows although the depth can be rather shallow. For all intents and purposes, this is a meat-and-two veg story (alter where appropriate for specific dietary options, such as vegetarian, vegan or gluten free) and while vacant-minded press statement would be passable, an individual quote full of colour and emotion would be gravy.
Stories, like the Alonso move, are dangerous, because the run that line of becoming box-ticking exercises. Beyond the announcement and the ripple-free platitudes of the press statements, this kind of story can, and usually does, devolve into the territory of race analysis, season review and career look back.
Often these are words for the sake of words – a duty to fatten a piece up to make it seem worthwhile, but without any deep insight or individual touches. With these stories, such depth is rarely possible due to the constraints of control enacted by the parties involved.
Unless you are Oscar Piastri.
The French youngster was announced as Alonso’s replacement at Alpine for 2023 onward, only for the young man to contradict that on Twitter, revealing this evening (Tuesday August 2nd), “I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine F1 have put out a press release late this afternoon that I am driving for them next year. This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year.”
And with a single brief statement, the story has been turned on its head. From this point, conjecture and supposition build and accelerate into self-perpetuating spin, with arguments based on thin air and gut feeling; neither of which have any link to the parties involved.
No matter what way one examines this development, it is a very brave move by Piastri. There had been some speculation that the Australian had been in discussions with McLaren to replace Daniel Ricciardo, although that matter is complicated by the fact that Ricciardo has insisted that he is remaining with the Woking team, despite his poor efforts this year.
For Piastri to make that move, Ricciardo would have to move and that is before one considers McLaren’s US-based chargers, Alex Palou, Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta.
But so much of this is speculation and once the various tales intertwine, they soon become stories for the sake of stories, joining an endless array of theory and gut feeling-based filler that says little, understand less and reveals nothing.
In the next few days, we may hear lots about options that may or may not have been actioned prior to July 31st (a common option date in the calendar year) and how those options – whether actioned or not – may further turn the 2023 Formula One driver line-up on its head.