Formula One finds have taken to social media to share their disbelief at reports Daniel Ricciardo has been told by McLaren he will be replaced by compatriot Oscar Piastri next season.
Citing Australian sources close to the situation, the www.racingnews365.com website reports that Ricciardo has been officially informed of his "de-hiring".
Meanwhile, Autosport says it understands Ricciardo had been told of McLaren's intention to replace him with 21-year-old Aussie Piastri, who this week rejected a 2023 seat at Renault-owned Alpine, despite having a contract for next year.
McLaren are yet to comment on the story that has been dominating much of the F1 headlines since the start of the August break.
Ricciardo has a contract until the end of 2023 and recently indicated he had no intention of leaving the team, where he was determined to see out the deal.
If his exit from McLaren is to be confirmed, it looks as though the team will have to agree to pay the Aussie driver out of his contract in order for him to walk away at the end of the season.
The 33-year-old was signed from Renault at the end of 2020 but, apart from winning last year's Italian Grand Prix against the odds, has failed to live up to expectations at the former champions.
This season he has scored a mere 19 points, with a highest position of sixth, compared with teammate Lando Norris's 76 from 13 races.
However, F1 fans have been left disgusted by the way the saga involving Ricciardo and Piastri has played out, with many insisting the 33-year-old deserves better.
A reminder that Daniel Ricciardo is the only driver to win in a McLaren in the last decade.
If the report below is true I hope Danny Ric SMOKES McLaren with whatever team he finds himself in next season. https://t.co/DKdEsbcSiK
— Matt Hickey (@mhickey23) August 5, 2022
Only five drivers have scored more wins than Daniel Ricciardo in the last decade.
Arguably none of his eight wins were achieved with the fastest car on the day. It's a brutal game sometimes.
— Alex Jacques (@AlexJacquesF1) August 5, 2022
if oscar to mclaren is true someone owes daniel ricciardo one hell of an apology, firstly for making him feel like he had a seat whilst knowingly negotiating with piastri, secondly for letting this all play out publicly and lastly for the way he's been their scapegoat for 2 years
— charlie ¹ (@rbrleclerc) August 5, 2022
McLaren literally made Daniel Ricciardo put out a statement saying he's gonna drive for the team next year while they busy signing Oscar Piastri to replace him. What a clown show this silly season is becoming. No respect for the drivers whatsoever. But that's #F1.
— Sharon💫| (@sillyseasonf1) August 5, 2022
Daniel Ricciardo is being done dirty…I hope he gets a team that smokes McLaren
— Alex (@AlexPresents) August 5, 2022
Racingnews365.com reported that Piastri signed a contract with McLaren last Saturday at the Hungarian Grand Prix and the team then lodged it with the sport's Contract Recognition Board.
Alpine, who have invested heavily in Piastri as reserve driver, announced the Australian as their driver on Tuesday, only for him to take to social media to contradict them.
Oscar Piastri reveals plans to leave Alpine
"I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine F1 have put out a press release late this afternoon that I am driving for them next year," he said in a statement that promptly went viral.
"This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year."
Adding to the intrigue, Alpine's team principal this week commented on the possibility of Ricciardo returning to the French team - which was formerly known as Renault.
Otmar Szafnauer says he would have no issues welcoming Ricciardo back to the team he left for McLaren, adding that drivers such as Alonso have done the same thing in the past.
“I mean, if you look at Fernando, for example, he comes and goes, and I think that happens to other drivers too,” he told reporters before Piastri made his public response.
“And I don't think that's an issue at all. I think what we need to focus on are the plans that we have for the next races.
“We've got to make sure that we complement that plan with the best driver that we can, and there are some options out there for us. And we put the best driver in next to Esteban [Ocon], so that we can move forward towards what we've been planning.”
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