Alpine have found themselves at the centre of a driver market storm after being taken by surprise by Fernando Alonso’s bombshell decision to leave and instead join Aston Martin in place of the retiring Sebastian Vettel

The Anglo-French outfit subsequently named their reserve driver Oscar Piastri as Alonso’s replacement for 2023, only for the reigning F2 champion to sensationally refute the announcement, saying it was “wrong” and had come “without my agreement”. 

Why Do McLaren Want To DUMP Ricciardo?

It is believed that Piastri has already agreed a deal to drive for McLaren next season, taking Daniel Ricciardo’s seat. The Australian has a valid contract for 2023 but it has been reported that McLaren intend to replace Ricciardo with Piastri

Ricciardo could find a landing spot at his former team Alpine, who he raced for in 2019 and 2020 before joining McLaren, with the Enstone-based squad in need of a replacement for the departing Alonso. 

Speaking on Sky Germany, ex-F1 driver turned pundit Schumacher weighed in on the situation, calling it “criminal” for Alpine to lose a “jewel” like Piastri, who claimed a hat-trick of junior championship titles prior to his year on the F1 sidelines. 

"There are many rumours,” said Schumacher. “One thing was clear: Alpine had no interest at the beginning of putting Piastri in the car next year, because you have seen that young drivers need a certain amount of time [until they arrive in Formula 1]. 

“They wanted to accommodate him somewhere else for one to two years. There was an option on the part of Alpine to [place Piastri in the cockpit], but this was not pulled because Fernando Alonso was not expected to leave. 

“If you have such a jewel, it is criminal to let it go. If you are not able to design the contracts correctly yourself, then you cannot blame the young man. 

“One thing must not be forgotten: Piastri’s manager Mark Webber has a very, very close connection to McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl.”

Schumacher reckons the blame for the “embarrassing” fiasco lies with Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer. 

“I like Otmar [Szafnauer], but he himself is disappointed by his own performance, that he didn't see that coming with Alonso and that he doesn't have a plan B. 

“That's the embarrassing thing about the whole thing. Accordingly, he has to blame himself. Oscar didn't do anything wrong. 

“Ultimately, Renault could have questioned the personality Alonso earlier and Piastri should have conveyed that they will rely on him in the future. 

“He won Formula 3 in the first year, as did Formula 2. What should he wait for? I would have done the same if I had received an offer. And McLaren is certainly a top team.”

The end of the road for Ricciardo? 

While Alpine have not ruled out the prospect of bringing Ricciardo back, Schumacher says he cannot see the eight-time grand prix winner getting another opportunity in F1. 

Despite claiming McLaren’s first victory since 2012 at Monza last year, Ricciardo has struggled to adapt to McLaren’s car and has been unable to match the pace of his younger teammate Lando Norris. 

Schumacher also suggested that his nephew, Mick, could be a candidate for the vacant Alpine seat given that the 23-year-old German’s contract with Haas is due to expire at the end of the year. 

"The names are there, with every cockpit,” Schumacher added. 

“Mick [Schumacher] has also not yet signed a contract. Therefore, he would be a candidate. A candidate with speed, as you have seen. 

“Nico Hülkenberg is also still in the starting blocks. And then there is the question of Daniel Ricciardo. 

“Personally, I can't imagine that he would get another chance in Formula 1. But I don't know who Alpine should take at the moment.”