It appears a forlorn chase for Alpine to try and rescue the relationship with their junior driver Oscar Piastri and the recriminations are now beginning. The Formula One contracts board have ruled McLaren are entitled to contract with Alpine’s ex driver and the French junior stated publicly he “will not drive for Alpine next season.
Alpine tried to play two drivers off against each other offering Fernando Alonso just a 1 year extension then an opportunity in Renault Sports Cars. Alonso wanted a longer F1 contract so while the 31st July deadline on Alpine’s option to sign the Spaniard approached, he was setting up a deal with Aston Martin.
On the 1st of August Alonso made his announcement and set panic running through their Alpine management. They shortly afterward claimed Piastri would replace Alonso only to discover this was not going to be the case.
Team principal Otmar Szafnauer admits to El Confidential he expected Piastri to show more loyalty to the team.“I expected more loyalty from Piastri,” Szafnauer said in an extended rant.
“He should have it with that team that has taken care of him, that has taken him to the World Championship and, above all, that during the last year has put him in a Formula 1 car so that he would be ready, so that he would know the circuits.
“I expected more loyalty from Oscar than he is showing. I started in 1989 in Formula 1 and I’ve never seen anything like this.
“And it’s not about Formula 1, it’s about integrity as a human being. It could happen in ice hockey or soccer, it doesn’t matter. But you don’t do that.
“He signed a piece of paper, a document, saying he would do something different.
“For me, the way I grew up, I don’t need to sign a piece of paper and then have someone say, ‘You’re lying, because you signed this.’ For me, if you say, ‘Hey, help me, I’ll help you tomorrow,’ there’s no way I would go back on my word. No way.
“You did everything I asked you to do and now I promise you that if you do this, I will do this. I don’t need a piece of paper where it says, ‘With a clause, I can get out of here’.”
Otmar Szafnauer reveals that he has had plenty of interest in the vacant Alpine seat.
“Let’s spend some time studying where this takes us. And if Piastri is not in the car – which I think he will be, because Fernando is out, I have like fourteen phone calls from drivers who are interested.”
“The Alpine seat is the most valuable one left,” he said.
It’s bizarre Otmar believes there is still hope Alpine can land Piastri, but he restates;
“We had a contract with Piastri and we have to understand where he takes us legally. We believe, and that is why we issued the statement, that we have a binding contract.” said the Romanian.
There is clearly a huge resentment towards Piastri after Alpine have invested big money in his development.
“Let’s see where we are legally with Oscar. We have a contract, which he says that we should support him in his career until Formula 1 by investing a lot of money,” Otmar bemoaned.
“But, above all, we must take into account last year we put a single-seater on it and it covered 3,500 kilometres. We’ve done seven independent tests with it and this isn’t cheap. Only the cost of an engine is 1,750,000 euros.
“The mechanics, the team that has managed those tests, the flights and trips… We have spent a lot, a lot of money on Piastri to prepare him for the future and, if that future is not with us, it is logical and fair that we seek compensation.”
Whether Alpine can claim compensation from Piastri is yet to be seen, but if Otmar thinks the young Aussie driver will be racing for Alpine next season, he appears rather deluded.