The Formula One cockup of the year award in 2022 went to Alpine. Having failed to secure their star driver Fernando Alonso by offering him merely a one year extension to his contract, Alpine then made themselves look utterly ridiculous by announcing his replacement – only to be publicly rebuffed within 90 minutes.
The contract with junior driver Oscar Piastri Alpine claimed was watertight was deemed otherwise by the FIA’s contract recognition board (CRB) and Piastri was announced as a McLaren driver for 2023.
Alpine call out Piastri’s loyalty
However, instead of “letting sleeping dogs lie” and hoping the embarrassing saga would fade from the news, senior members of the Alpine F1 team continued to criticise Piastri for his lack of loyalty.
“My wish for Oscar was that he had a bit more integrity. He signed a bit of paper as well back in November and we’ve done everything on our end of the bargain to prepare him for F1.” said the Alpine team principal following the CRB’s decision.
“And his end of the bargain was to either drive for us or take a seat where we would place him for the next three years. I just wish Oscar would have remembered what he signed in November, what he signed up to.”
Gasly recruited to replace Alonso
At the post season testing in Abu Dhabi Otmar Szafnauer took a swipe at Piastri. Having secured the services of experienced F1 driver Pierre Gasly for 2023, Szafnauer jibed, “Look, let’s see how we do next year. I’m happy that our driving pairing with Esteban [Ocon] and Pierre is better than it would have been if we had won that case [with the CRB]. [Gasly is] more experienced, still young. And time will tell, but I think faster.”
And now again the Alpine Piastri saga is revised. Speaking to Total-Motorsport.com Otmar Szafnauer remarks obliquely,“Species that cooperate survive. Species that are selfish become extinct.”
“In the future, we will remember these lessons and make sure that we eliminate the loopholes that allowed Oscar to get out of the contract we thought we had with him.”
Time for Alpine to move on
“What happened in the summer was not what we had planned in December 2021. We can say that we should have done things differently so that the plan to promote Oscar would actually have been realised.”
With testing just over three weeks away its about time Alpine moved on from the sorry affair that saw their head of legal affairs sacked.
The pairing of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon looks exciting and given their war of words history, it could be explosive too when they find themselves on the same piece of asphalt.