Unlike the legal battle ensuing across the pond in IndyCar, Formula One paper to have a fairly succinct process to resolve driver contract disputes. Alpine’s junior driver Oscar Piastri has agreed a deal as of August 1st to sign for McLaren F1 but Alpine claimed he state the board’s decision is final and Alpine have no right of appeal.
FIA’s contract recognition board are said to have today ruled Piastri’s new contract with McLaren is valid and surpass his previous deal with ALPINE.
The saga over the Alpine/Renault academy driver began shortly after Fernando Alonso declared he was joining Aston Martin on the day after the Hungarian GP. Alpine had an option on Alonso up to the Sunday 31st July, Fernando walked with a good to go deal with Aston the next day.Tuesday the 2nd August, Alpine declared their replacement driver would be Oscar pastry, though this was not accompanied by the usual accompanying statement from the Australian driver.
Piastri then tweeted, “I will not be driving for Alpine next year” and so the dispute began.
The FIA’s contract recognition board have in fact ruled McLaren’s contract with Piastri for 2023 legal and that Alpine have no claim on the driver beyond their current contract which expires in 2022.
Piastri’s deal with McLaren was apparently finalised on the 31st July, the day Alpine’s option to extend expired. It was then ratified the same day as Alonso’s with Aston Martin.
Alpine were clearly trying to play one driver off against the other but by having both options to retain either driver conclude on the same date is utterly amateurish.
Clearly McLaren would have preferred their contract to have remained secret until they had dealt with exiting Daniel Ricciardo.
What now for Ricciardo?
At the GP in Monaco Zak Brown revealed, “I don’t want to get into the contract [details] but there But there are mechanisms in which we are committed to each other and then there are mechanisms in which we are not.”
This implies a break clause at the end of Daniel’s 2 year contract this winter. Ricciardo will have an option to break but Brown implies McLaren do too.
This would almost certainly based on a performance metric. Ricciardo may have been set an absolute target number of points by race 14, or it could be he is expected to score no less than a certain percentage of the points his team mate has achieved.
Lando Norris has 76 points and Ricciardo just 19. This means Ricciardo has scored just 20% of McLaren’s points this season.
While rookie Guanyu Zhou has only about 10% of Alfa Romeo’s points, Daniel has won races and finished P5 2 seasons ago in the driver’s championship.
Mich Schumacher who is in his second season in F1 has around 33% of Haas points, in his rookie year the team failed to score a point.
So if there is a performance metric in place, Ricciardo is in trouble in terms of a payoff.
If not, then McLaren will have to pay him off the 2023 remuneration he is due to leave the team.
When Fernando Alonso left McLaren, he was paid the remainder of his contract with the condition if he joined another F1 team, the payment must be returned. Alonso accordingly left the sport and raced in WEC sports cars and IndyCar for two years until the exclusion clause expired.
If Ricciardo has a similar clause but wants to remain within Formula One. To avoid a sticky situation where Ricciardo is part paid for the contract monies owed and his new team – maybe ALPINE – will then be able to pay Ricciardo a bargain amount for 2023.