Because of summer break! The days of chaos in Formula 1 happily continue: Just one day after Fernando Alonso’s surprising departure from Alpine in the direction of Aston Martin, the French team was suddenly in a hurry and announced young star Oscar Piastri as the Spaniard’s successor.
“After four years in the Renault and Alpine family, reserve driver Oscar Piastri will be promoted to the regular cockpit alongside Esteban Ocon from 2023,” Alpine announced in an official broadcast early Tuesday evening. Striking: Piastri does not have a say in it.
Piastri causes an unusual process
An extremely unusual process in Formula 1, which indicates more of a hasty hitch-hike action than a well-planned press release. (DATA: The Drivers’ Championship of Formula 1)
A little later, the scandal is perfect: because the assumptions that Piastri actually knew nothing about his “luck” are confirmed.
Australian Alpine tweeted a scathing refusal: “I explain that without my consent, Alpine F1 issued a press release late this afternoon saying I will be racing for them next year. This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I won’t be driving for Alpine next year.”
Apparently, the French wanted to create facts with a quick announcement of the hotly courted super talent and thus put a stop to rumors that germinated in the English media on Tuesday: It can be read that Piastri has already agreed on a preliminary contract with McLaren. (NEWS: All current information about Formula 1)
There he is to inherit compatriot Daniel Ricciardo because Alpine had initially decided in favor of the extension with Alonso, which finally burst.
However, team boss Otmar Szafnauer still clearly refers to his position in the morning: “I am not privy to any contractual obligations that he (Piastri; ed.) has with McLaren, if he has any at all. But I know which ones he has with us and which ones we have with him. And we stuck to it all year,” warns Szafnauer the 2021 Formula 2 champion. (DATA: The Formula 1 race calendar)
“Oscar is our number 1 candidate and we have invested a lot in him, not just financially but also emotionally. We certainly didn’t do that to ultimately defend him for one of our opponents.”
Especially since McLaren is currently in a direct duel with Alpine for fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship. Szafnauer reiterates: “Our commitments will continue in 2023 and, depending on the exercise of options, also in 2024. We also have a contract with him there.” (DATA: The team ranking of Formula 1)
Piastri and his manager, ex-F1 driver Mark Webber, apparently see things very differently. Background: According to the contract clause, Alpine should have guaranteed its junior a place for 2023 in July – otherwise Webber was free to negotiate other cockpits for his protégé.
The Australians are said not to have agreed to a loan to the latecomer Williams, which Alpine was initially considering, and have now apparently come to an agreement with McLaren.
Legal dispute between Alpine, Piastri and McLaren?
This is the only way to explain why Piastri so loudly rejects a regular cockpit for 2023 at Alpine. One thing is clear: between the two parties and possibly also McLaren, in the worst case there is even a legal dispute.
Explosive: In the US IndyCar series, a comparable autumn is currently making headlines. There, the Chip Ganassi team announced the extension of the contract with reigning champion Alex Palou after an option had been drawn.
Similar to Piastri, Palou spoke up a little later, was surprised by the lack of communication and instead expected to leave the racing team and want to switch to another team – to McLaren of all places!
Chip Ganassi then files a lawsuit, the case is still pending. Formula 1 is now threatened with a similar scenario. Whatever the outcome, the damage to the image of Piastri, Alpine and above all team boss Szafnauer can no longer be averted.
The American’s actions in particular raise questions. The Alpine team boss knew Piastri was exploring his options. “Oscar and his management are considering their options, whatever that means,” he said Tuesday morning.
Only a few hours later, Alpine still dares to go it alone with the announcement: Szafnauer, who claims to have already been caught cold by Alonso’s departure, obviously wanted to avoid being the loser in the driver market for twice as few days. This shot now backfires properly.