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Drive To Survive: McLaren Offered Ricciardo Swap To Alpine During Piastri Saga

Drive To Survive: McLaren Offered Ricciardo Swap To Alpine During Piastri Saga
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
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Drive to Survive season five arrives on Netflix on Friday, and there are major revelations in store for F1 fans surrounding one of the 2022 season's biggest stories.

Sebastian Vettel's unexpected retirement kicked off a chaotic few months of driver transfers that saw threats of lawsuits after youngster Oscar Piastri made the sensational decision to ditch Alpine and sign for McLaren for the 2023 season.

The dramatic merry-go-round saw Alpine's Fernando Alonso snapped up by Aston Martin to replace Vettel, before the French team announced that Piastri would replace Alonso.

Alpine had funded much of Piastri's climb through the junior series, so the move was not a surprise - until a bombshell tweet from Piastri blew the driver market wide open and threw Alpine's plans into chaos.


Weeks later, Piastri was announced as the replacement for the unperforming Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren, and Alpine threatened legal action against both the young Australian driver and the McLaren team he joined.

The new season of Drive to Survive dedicates two full episodes to the driver merry-go-round created during the summer, and reveals that one way McLaren boss Zak Brown attempted to appease his Alpine counterpart Otmar Szafnauer was to propose a driver swap between the two teams, with Ricciardo moving back to Alpine.

F1 Drive to Survive: Major revelations from McLaren and Alpine

The newest season of Drive to Survive is a big step forward from its predecessors (read our full review right here), and one of the highlights is the mid-season double episode which deals with the frantic search for a driver to replace Fernando Alonso at Alpine midway through the 2022 season.


After Alonso surprised the team in departing swiftly to take Sebastian Vettel's spot at Aston Martin, the team were rocked when their junior driver Oscar Piastri was announced as a McLaren driver for 2023 - after Alpine themselves had announced that Piastri would drive for them.

Fernando Alonso Drive to Survive

Drive to Survive S5. Fernando Alonso in Drive to Survive S5. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

Alpine were furious at what they saw as contractual wrongdoing by both Piastri and McLaren, and episode six of Drive to Survive season five  ("Nice Guys Finish Last") depicts Alpine and McLaren bosses Otmar Szafnauer and Zak Brown going head-to-head, with fly-on-the-wall access to several of the pair's negotiations and arguments.


In one of these scenes, Brown refuses to listen to Szafnauer's complaints, after Szafnauer claims Alpine could be owed as much as €5 million in compensation for the ordeal. Brown suggests that such an amount is not worth taking McLaren to court over.

Drive to Survive darling Daniel Ricciardo was suddenly left without a seat for 2023 by Oscar Piastri's arrival at McLaren, and the rumour mill swirled as to where he would end up throughout the summer silly season.


Daniel Ricciardo Drive to Survive

Drive to Survive S5. Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo, and Sergio Perez in Drive to Survive S5. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

One of the most frequent destinations Ricciardo was linked to was Alpine - but the latest installment of Drive to Survive reveals that McLaren actually offered Ricciardo's services to Alpine as a form of compensation for having taken their promising junior talent Piastri.


After the initial meeting, in which Szafnauer threatens legal action against McLaren and Piastri, Brown discusses the possibility of offering up Ricciardo with his own team, before approaching Alpine HQ at the Dutch Grand Prix to propose the switch as a means of avoiding having to pay both Ricciardo out of his contract, and Alpine any compensation.

Brown goes on to say he "definitely did not see it [the controversy] coming" but that he "has a plan". He arrives at Alpine's motorhome and asks for the team's CEO Laurent Rossi.

Brown: I feel like I can help. Let's close this thing out.

Rossi: We have Hulk [Nico Hulkenberg], Mick [Schumacher], or [Pierre] Gasly.

Brown: Daniel? I'd love to see him here, but that's only because I'd love to see him stay in the sport.

Rossi: He's one of the options. Maybe we'll give him a chance.

Brown: Cool. See you later, cheers.

It's quite the revelation, and shows how complex the situation was behind the scenes throughout the prolonged saga.

Ricciardo infamously departed Alpine when it was known as Renault in 2020, in order to move to McLaren. The move was somewhat out of left-field, and left a bitter taste with many at the team (in a storyline dealt with in season three of Drive to Survive), leaving an obstacle for a potential return for 2023.

Ultimately, these issues - combined with Ricciardo's catastrophic drop in form during his spell with McLaren - led to Alpine choosing French driver Pierre Gasly to take Alonso's place at the team, rather than Ricciardo. The rest of the runtime of "Nice Guys Finish Last" deals with the decision to choose Gasly over "Danny Ric".

Pierre Gasly Drive to Survive

Drive to Survive S5. Pierre Gasly in Drive to Survive S5. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

Another revelation from the Alpine double header in Drive to Survive is that Alonso was on the verge of signing a contract extension with the team when Vettel announced his retirement, with Szafnauer and the team completely taken by surprise at the Hungarian Grand Prix when rumours suddenly emerged of the Spaniard's departure.

Daniel Ricciardo has been left without a seat for the 2023 season, and will instead take up a role as Red Bull's reserve driver.

SEE ALSO: F1: Power Ranking The Ten Liveries For The 2023 Season

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