Piastri wasn't sure Ricciardo 'wanted to hear' from him

Oscar Piastri (AUS) Alpine F1 Team Reserve Driver and Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) McLaren. 10.04.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Race
© XPB 

Oscar Piastri was fearful of contacting ousted McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo during last summer's F1 contract saga, but in the end, it was the latter who made the first step, much to the young Aussie's relief.

McLaren and Ricciardo decided to part ways at the end of August, a decision followed several days later by the confirmation of Piastri's move to the Woking-based outfit.

Earlier in August, the Alpine junior had been announced as Fernando Alonso's replacement at the Enstone squad. But the highly rated 21-year-old rejected the offer, having already committed at that point to McLaren.

Although Alpine disputed its driver's right to sign with another team, the FIA's Contract Recognition Board put the matter to rest in favour of Piastri.

Out of respect but feeling uneasy, the young Aussie intended on reaching out to Ricciardo, but the timing of events delayed his initiative, until the McLaren driver made the first step.

"That was a really great thing for Daniel to get in touch," Piastri said on the Australian Grand Prix's In the Fast Lane podcast.

"I was planning on getting in touch myself, but I think with the timing of things, he was obviously at a race and, quite frankly, I didn’t actually know if he wanted to hear from me.

"I was trying to think of what to say, but he beat me to it.

"A true professional, Daniel is. My respect for him was already extremely high and it’s only gotten higher in the way he’s responded."

Ricciardo's easy and grievance-free attitude towards Piastri was a big relief for his successor who had always considered his countryman as a veritable role model.

"With him getting in touch like that, it was great for me personally," Piastri added. "Knowing that there’s no hard feelings, that really helped me quite a lot – it was a nice moment.

"I think if I can get close to emulating [the] success he’s had on track, and also the character he is off the track, then I think I’ll be doing a reasonable job."

For now, Piastri remains tied to Alpine. He admitted that he doesn't know when the last string with the French manufacturer will be cut.

"I'm not sure yet and we don't know," he said. "It's obviously something we're discussing with Alpine at the moment. But yeah, as of right now, I don't know when, or what the rest of the year holds."

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