Webber apologises as pair finally talk over Piastri situation

The McLaren driver is being replaced by Piastri for 2023, after the youngster was grabbed by the Woking-based squad from the grasps of Alpine.

Piastri’s signing came ahead of McLaren agreeing on a contract termination with Ricciardo, meaning he would not see out the third and final year of his original deal.

The Piastri matter went all the way to F1’s Contract Recognition Board and, amid the intensity of the complicated situation, Ricciardo had revealed last month that there had been no contact with either the youngster or his manager Webber.

But with things getting settled over the Dutch GP weekend, and Webber on the ground as part of his commitment to British broadcaster Channel 4, there was an opportunity at Zandvoort for him and Ricciardo to chat.

That happened on Sunday, ahead of the Dutch GP, and Ricciardo explained that Webber “felt bad” about the consequences of Piastri’s move as he emphasised there was nothing personal about what had happened.

“We hadn’t seen obviously each other in person [since it all started],” explained Ricciardo.

“I feel he didn’t need to, but he felt like he wanted to, in a way, apologise and try to just see how I’m doing.

“Obviously I know how this sport is: it’s nothing personal to me. And he wanted to make sure that I knew that and understood that. And just to make sure that I felt okay.

“He feels really bad, obviously, [in] how it’s gone down and obviously how things have been put out there in the media. So yeah, it was obviously nice to speak to him.”

Oscar Piastri, Reserve Driver, Alpine F1 Team

Oscar Piastri, Reserve Driver, Alpine F1 Team

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

As well as having a conversation with Webber over the matter, Ricciardo also says that he has spoken in private to Piastri to also ensure that his replacement knows there are no lingering tensions.

“I’ve also spoken to Oscar, to be honest, and just made sure that there’s no bad feelings there. I understand how this works.

“He’s trying to make it: he’s trying to get into Formula 1. And this moment should be also really big for him. I don’t want to make it a bad situation for him.

“That’s that: it’s nothing personal. So that’s all the conversation was. And I truly do wish him well. I want him to have a good run in Formula 1.

“So it’s just the circumstances and that’s how it is. But I still obviously like Mark a lot and respect him.”

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Ricciardo explained that he felt it important that he did get in touch with Piastri, because there was a risk of the youngster feeling there could be some angst between them if he did not explain his true feelings.

“If there’s no communication, you never know what someone’s feeling or thinking,” he added “Obviously he’s a lot younger than me. I don’t know how he feels: if he’s nervous to reach out and see how I’m doing.

“Also, I wanted to make sure that it was clear that I understand his position. And absolutely no hard feelings.

“So that was good. I think it made him feel better. And yeah, I think the last thing he wanted was to have some weird tension between a few of the only Australians in this sport. So I’m glad that we’ve done that.”

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