McLaren, Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Formula One, Daniel Ricciardo (Photo courtesy of Clive Mason/Getty Images) ) In the Formula 1 constructor standings, McLaren and Alpine are separated by only four points, and the Oscar Piastri debacle has heightened the rivalry. So far, the 2022 Formula One season has been disappointing in the eyes of McLaren fans. Daniel Ricciardo hasn’t been the competitive driver of previous seasons with Red Bull and Renault, Lando Norris has expressed dissatisfaction with the MCL36, and the car has struggled to compete with the big three teams of Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes. Alpine, on the other hand, has had a very successful season. Both drivers have finished in the points in seven races, Fernando Alonso shocked everyone by qualifying second in Montreal, and the car has shown flashes of surprising speed despite still trailing the top three teams. Alpine currently sits four points ahead of McLaren in the constructor standings, 99-95, setting up one of the most exciting team battles to watch after the summer break. On race weekends, the two teams see each other as the main threat, and the cars perform similarly. And, while neither team has a chance to move into third place, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Millions of dollars can be the difference between finishing fourth and fifth in the standings. The commitment of Oscar Piastri, the talented young Australian who is set to join Formula One next year but has yet to sign a contract with any team, could be on the line for the winner. Alpine announced on Twitter on Tuesday that Piastri would be promoted to their vacant seat for next season. In response to the announcement, Piastri dismissed it and stated that he had not signed a contract with Alpine for the 2023 season. He also stated that he would not be racing for the team the following year. Without my permission, Alpine F1 issued a press release late this afternoon announcing that I will be driving for them next year. This is incorrect, and I have not signed a 2023 contract with Alpine. Next year, I will not be driving for Alpine. Oscar Piastri (@OscarPiastri), Twitter 2 August 2022 The tweet, which received hundreds of thousands of likes and comments, turned the Formula One world on its head. It also left Alpine looking for a replacement for Alonso, who announced his move to Aston Martin following Sebastian Vettel’s retirement. Many speculated that Piastri’s response indicated that he was in talks with McLaren about taking over Ricciardo’s seat. Ricciardo, whose contract runs until 2023, had reached an agreement with team owner Zak Brown to stay for the 2019 season. If Piastri is serious about joining McLaren, Ricciardo will be forced to leave next year. So, could McLaren steal Piastri from Alpine? Will the French team be able to entice the 2021 Formula 2 champion? While the true reason for Piastri’s announcement that he will not be returning to Alpine next season is unknown, Alpine will undoubtedly consider it a slap in the face if McLaren snatches him away. Interestingly, if Ricciardo loses his current seat to the younger Australian, he may be able to return to Alpine. Alpine needs to prove to the world that they are capable of beating McLaren in the constructor standings if they want to convince Piastri to sign with them for 2023. The last time Alpine bested McLaren was in 2018, back when the team was still known as Renault. A fourth year in a row with McLaren ahead would almost certainly crush any desire Piastri has of signing with Alpine. The pressure is on for both teams to finish the season strong. The one that comes out on top just might be able to alter the future of their team for years to come.