F1 fan claims to spot Daniel Ricciardo and Oscar Piastri in Melbourne

Described by fans as the F1 'spotto of the year', is Oscar Piastri giving McLaren predecessor Daniel Ricciardo a tour of Melbourne?

Oscar Piastri is highlighted driving his McLaren on the left, with a zoomed in shot of his passenger on the right.
F1 fans have speculated Oscar Piastri was driving Daniel Ricciardo around Melbourne recently, but the jury is out on whether Piastri's passenger really was the eight-time grand prix winner. Picture: Reddit/u/AidenBuckleigh

Formula One fans could be forgiven for thinking there might be a little barrier between Oscar Piastri and Daniel Ricciardo, after the former replaced the 12-year F1 veteran last season. Instead, one fan believes a burgeoning friendship could be in the works after spotting who they believed to be possibly the two fastest Australians cruising towards Melbourne in a bright orange McLaren supercar.

Piastri, recruited by McLaren from F1 rivals Alpine last year, will make his debut in the sport when the F1 season kicks off in Bahrain in March. With some time before then, the 21-year-old was spotted taking what looked to be his new company car for a spin. However it was who the fan believed they saw sitting next to Piastri that really caught the attention of F1 fans on Reddit.

WOW: 'Uneducated bogans' slammed after Porsche claims Summernats win

NOT GOOD: Daniel Ricciardo describes baffling struggles with McLaren

Many have speculated it was Ricciardo spotted next to Piastri in the passenger seat as they drove along the Maroundah Highway, near Box Hill. It's difficult to make out exactly who Piastri's passenger is thanks to the tint on the window of the McLaren, but the Melbourne-born Piastri could be giving his F1 predecessor a tour of his hometown.

Ricciardo, who has taken up a reserve driver role with Red Bull in 2023 in the hopes of returning to the grid in 2024, was quick to quash any notion of bitterness towards his younger colleague when his exit from McLaren was confirmed. After signing for three seasons starting in 2021, Ricciardo's tenure at McLaren ultimately proved disappointing, despite earning the team their first grand prix victory since 2012.

Piastri was just 10 years old when Ricciardo debuted in F1 back in 2011, and like many aspiring drivers looked up to the eight-time F1 race winner as he progressed through the junior ranks. He said having the backing and confidence of Ricciardo behind him had put his mind at ease as he prepares for his F1 debut.

“Him getting in touch like that, it was great for me personally,” Piastri said back in September last year, after revealing Ricciardo had gotten in touch with him after he secured the McLaren job. “Knowing that there were no hard feelings, that really helps me quite a lot.

“That was good, to get in touch. That was a nice moment. It is a bit of a sliding doors moment, but I think if I can get close to emulating what success he’s had on track and also the character he is off the track, then I think I’ll be doing a reasonable job.”

Daniel Ricciardo, pictured here at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2022.
Daniel Ricciardo at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2022. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Oscar Piastri's controversial move to replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren

Ricciardo has been conciliatory throughout, particularly given the involvement of his own Australian F1 predecessor, Mark Webber, being Piastri's manager. The F1 driver market can be a brutal business, Ricciardo said last year, and it wasn't the 21-year-old Piastri's fault it was the case.

“It was just how the chips fell,” Ricciardo said on F1's In the Fast Lane podcast. “He was in the situation, but it’s not like he created the situation.

“It was just a product of all these things happening and then, okay, he’s the guy, and that’s it. Of course Mark has a job to do as well, trying to find his driver a seat.

“I get how people were like, ‘Oh, you know, doing that to another Aussie!’, and blah, blah, blah, but I certainly didn’t view it like that or take it as it seemed from the outside. We were all just trying to do the best we could.”

Oscar Piastri will replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren next season, after the Aussie young gun turned his back on F1 rivals Alpine. (Photo by Steven Markham/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Oscar Piastri will replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren next season, after the Aussie young gun turned his back on F1 rivals Alpine. (Photo by Steven Markham/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Piastri was McLaren's man after the former F3 and F2 champion was eventually cleared to join the team following a messy exit from his role as reserve driver with F1 rivals Alpine. The French manufacturer had supported his junior career and hoped to replace the outgoing Fernando Alonso with the Melbourne-born star.

Alpine believed they had a valid contract with Piastri for 2023, but it was eventually determined by the FIA's contract recognition born that he was indeed a free agent, and therefore free to sign with McLaren. Piastri was fiercely criticised by Alpine, publicly rejecting them after the team declared on Twitter that he would be replacing Alonso next season.

Having feared his opportunity in F1 could vanish, Piastri said the determination of the contract board had come as a 'relief'. “I think the first [emotion] was obviously relief,” he said.

“It was obviously a pretty stressful time the hearing. The first was relief, and then obviously happiness. It’s something up in working towards since I started racing way back when — I think it was about 12 years ago or 11 years ago now — so to finally know what my future holds firstly and, secondly, that it would be an F1, that was relief and a very, very happy moment."

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.