It was a bold and potentially foolish public statement on Piastri's part because should Ricciardo stand his ground and hold McLaren to the three-year contract he signed 18 months ago, it leaves the reigning F2 champion with seemingly nowhere to go. Why would Alpine want him back when he has appeared to have burned his bridges with the team that has nurtured him these past few years, even if he has been forced into a campaign on the sidelines this season?
From McLaren's perspective, in talking to Piastri, you get the feeling it is trying to force Ricciardo's hand, to get him into thinking he is no longer wanted and that he will ultimately trigger his own release. If Ricciardo holds firm, he knows he faces a season and a half with a team where he is liked, given his naturally ebullient character, but where he also now knows the trust in him as a driver has been blown.
There is a chance he could return to Enstone, but would they want him back? After all, Ricciardo announced he was joining McLaren before the 2020 season had even started due to the coronavirus pandemic, which was hardly endearing. And would Alpine be willing to take a chance on a driver who has lost his way at McLaren, suggesting he may be a spent force? They at least know he would not cost the $25millon of a few years ago as his stock has since fallen.
As was the case four years ago, though, Ricciardo faces an anxious summer mulling over the question likely reverberating in his head – should he stay or should he go?