2022 has been a rather eventful year for F1 and the whole fraternity. While the season began normally and promisingly, who could have predicted that things would take a turn for the better when the "silly season" arrived? To be clear, almost five seats are empty on the current F1 grid, making it the most opportunistic year for new drivers to snatch the best ones.
The talented Oscar Piastri has been the golden-eyed child for several F1 teams. His brilliant junior career with Alpine landed him a role as their reserve driver in F1. But the French-based team was keen on keeping Alonso for several more years, leaving Piastri on the sidelines.
What happened next would make everyone want to pick up some popcorn and watch the drama that unfolded. Alpine emerged as the biggest losers in this game of seats, as they appear to have lost both future and current drivers.
Let's take a look at some of the other driver fallouts that were ugly enough to shock people.
McLaren canceling Ricciardo's contract and 4 other ugliest driver contract sagas in F1 history
5) Alain Prost -a rollercoaster ride between Renault F1 and McLaren
The Frenchman is a multiple world champion but has had his fair share of problems in the motorsporting industry. Prost, a former Ferrari driver, has even faced a brutal sacking by the team after blurting out some harsh words about his car. To be precise, he called his machinery a "truck".
On the other hand, his story with Renault is far more iconic. The French driver was contracted to McLaren in 1981 when he decided to leave for Renault. However, his working relationship with the team kept deteriorating, making things uneasy for both parties. But, though he returned to McLaren in 2004, Renault was obliged to pay him another year of salary.
It was a win-win situation for Alain Prost either way, who went on to win three world championships with the Woking outfit.
4) Jenson Button's last minute scare with Williams F1
This Englishman is renowned for his notorious activities during his time on the paddocks. So much so that nobody considered him a serious shot for the world championship title. However, Button did prove everyone wrong when he lifted the trophy in 2009 with Brawn F1, thanks to a Williams contract fallout.
Button was racing with BAR in 2004 and finished third for the year, with the team wanting to keep him. However, the Briton wanted to move back to his former team, Williams. However, their questionable form caused him to back out of the deal.
Though he was obliged to stay with BAR ( Honda Works Team), he did that willingly, forcing the team to pay off Williams heavily. Ultimately, this Honda team collapsed only to give rise to a hastily assembled but capable Brawn F1.
3) When McLaren didn't want Daniel Ricciardo
The 'Honey Badger's' career choices have been somewhat questionable. He left Red Bull after a second driver tag scared him off. He went on to drive for the Renault F1 team, which he again left abruptly. McLaren had made an enticing offer to Ricciardo at the time, causing him to be drawn to them.
However, the Aussie's performances have been consistently dull, with constant comparisons to Lando Norris. While Norris scored points despite being tonsillitis-ridden, Ricciardo failed to finish in the top 10. This led McLaren to cancel his contract.
They had to pay a heavy amount to Ricciardo, and they did so while informing him that his services would not be required in 2023. Ricciardo might be out of a seat next year, and even his old teams may not want him.
2) Fernando Alonso's shocker to Alpine
Honestly, 2022 has to sit at the top of this contract saga list. A special thank you goes to Sebastian Vettel, who, when he shifted to Aston Martin, stirred up the F1 world like no one else.
Former Ferrari man Fernando Alonso has to be kept happy, or it will not take long for the F1 racer to leave a team. Aston Martin, according to Alonso, really wanted him as he signed a contract with the team, leaving Alpine out of the talks. Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer was unaware of everything until and unless Aston Martin announced their deal with Alonso on social media.
This left Alpine in a horrible state, with only Esteban Ocon confirmed for 2023. While they relied on Piastri, they had no idea what was about to hit them.
1) Oscar Piastri's dreaded announcement
Alpine F1 were completely unaware that both Alonso and Piastri had signed with different teams behind their backs. While they tried to come to terms with Alonso's betrayal, Piastri shocked them further.
After Alpine F1 announced him as their next driver alongside Ocon, Piastri denied the news hours later, confirming that he's not driving for them. This set in motion a war between the two parties, with Szafnauer claiming they're in the right with Piastri's contract.
If reports are true, Piastri already has a contract with McLaren, who are more than ready to have him after saying their hasty goodbyes to Ricciardo. Let's see how the messiest contract of them all plays out from here.
So, after facing possibly their biggest embarrassment in many years, Alpine F1 still has a seat left to fill. Pierre Gasly is in talks, and maybe even Mick Schumacher. However, what cannot be denied is that 2022 was an unforgettable season in terms of ugly contracts.