Ricciardo has what appears to be a watertight contract for 2023, meaning McLaren will need to convince him to step aside in favour of Piastri.
If Ricciardo is able to secure a drive elsewhere for next season, any amount he earns would then be deducted from the McLaren payout.
McLaren would be expected to reject Ricciardo’s initial demand, with negotiations over a final price likely to take place in the coming weeks.
Australia’s last world champion, Alan Jones, wrote in his Wide World of Sports column on Tuesday that Ricciardo would “certainly” not be at McLaren in 2023.
“There’s no way in the wide world that’s going to happen,” Jones wrote.
It’s also been reported that Piastri never had a contract with the Alpine F1 team, only with its academy, meaning the deal was never lodged with Formula 1’s Contract Recognition Board (CRB).
The CRB therefore accepted Piastri’s McLaren deal as it did not conflict with any other F1 contract. However, that does not mean the deal between the 21-year-old and the Alpine academy is not enforceable in a court of law.
Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer has already flagged the possibility of legal action if Piastri does not drive for the team next year.
“I expected more loyalty from Oscar than he is showing,” he told Spanish publication El Confidencial.
“I started in 1989 in Formula 1 and I’ve never seen anything like this. And it’s not about Formula 1, it’s about integrity as a human being.”
“We have a contract with Piastri, which he signed in November, we have spoken to our lawyers and they have told us that this is a binding contract, so part of that contract allows us to put Oscar in one of our cars in 2023.”
The tug of war between McLaren and Alpine for Piastri’s services shows how highly the Melburnian is rated in F1 circles, despite the fact he’s yet to make his grand prix debut.
“The way it’s unfolded is something completely new, they’re having a major fight over somebody they’re hoping will turn into a great Formula 1 driver,” Jones wrote.
“All the signs point to the fact he will be, but until you’ve actually started a race there’s a little bit of a question mark.”
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