Oscar Piastri indicated he was pleased to be given the chance to make his Formula 1 debut for Alpine before later turning it down publicly, according to team principal Otmar Szafnauer.Fernando Alonso made the surprise announcement he would leave them to join Aston Martin. However Piastri subsequently denied he would race for the team.
Piastri had been in discussions to join McLaren for next year. The parties are due to appear before the Contract Recognition Board on Monday, which will rule on the matter.
Szafnauer described Piastri’s reaction when he told the driver he would be promoted to their race team in 2023.
“I told Oscar before the announcement was made,” he said in today’s FIA press conference at Spa-Francorchamps. “He happened to be in the simulator so I went and found him, and he smiled and was thankful. So we made the [press] release very quickly.”
Alpine’s announcement confirming Piastri immediately prompted speculation as it contained no comment from the driver. “Things happened very quickly and we too reacted quickly and didn’t want to go back and forth with his management, which is why we put the release out,” Szafnauer explained.
Piastri did not tell Szafnauer he did not intend to race for the team: “We heard through social media.”
Szafnauer, who dismissed reports elsewhere Alpine failed to take up an option on Piastri before a deadline of July 31st, said he is “very” confident the CRB will rule in Alpine’s favour. “I’ve seen both sides of the argument,” he said. “We’re confident that Oscar signed with us back in November and there are certain things that need to be in the contract, and I’m confident they’re in that.”
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“The disappointing thing really is that he signed something with us in November, we delivered everything that we were meant to – in addition to that, actually over-delivered – and his promise to us was to race with us if we put him in our car,” he added. “So that’s what we’re pursuing.”
Alpine will not make a decision on who will drive for them next year until the CRB makes its decision. “I don’t know when they’ll rule,” said Szafnauer. “It will be soon thereafter. And then once we have all the information in front of us, we’ll start looking at who will fill the open seat.”
Although Szafnauer has been publicly critical of Piastri, casting doubt on his “integrity” yesterday, he said past disputes have shown drivers can have productive relationships with teams after contract disputes. Jenson Button won a race with Honda – and the world championship with their successor Brawn GP – after going to the CRB over a dispute between them and Williams.
“I just happened to be there when what happened to Jenson Button when he signed for Williams but BAR Honda rightfully took up their option on Jenson,” said Szafnauer. “Jenson really wanted to go to Williams, BAR Honda won at the CRB and then had a great relationship with Jenson, culminating in a world championship, albeit that was the year after Honda left, but it was still basically the same team.”
Despite the disagreement between driver and team over their contract, Piastri is continuing to work with Alpine this weekend, said Szafnauer. “He’s back in Enstone, he is driving our simulator, helping with the car set-up,” he said. “And we continue to prepare Oscar in no different manner than we have in the past. So the relationship hasn’t wavered and we continue.”
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8 comments on ““Thankful” Piastri indicated he was happy to get 2023 Alpine seat – Szafnauer”
27th August 2022, 12:06
F1 can be a fickle place at times. 9 months ago nobody could get Oscar into a seat. Now he has two – without actually doing any driving.
27th August 2022, 12:17
Sounds to me like Otmar knew what was up and decided to go ahead publicising his team’s decision anyway.
Sure, mate. Who says stuff like this out loud?
27th August 2022, 12:43
Now Otmar pretends a verbal agreement was made lmao. Just covering all his bases for when the CBR confirms that his McLaren contract is valid.
27th August 2022, 12:43
27th August 2022, 15:07
Have to agree @sjaakfoo and @proesterchen, seems much like he keeps digging deeper by not just shutting down about it until the CRB meeting.
27th August 2022, 17:50
OK there are a few things that sound dodgy in Otmar’s discourse:
1. It’s surprising that there WAS verbal communication between Otmar and Oscar before the release. I was under the impression Oscar was caught unaware.
2. It’s surprising that Oscar continues to work in the sim for them. One was left to think that the relationship had soured greatly. Personally I would not want someone “lacking integrity” working on my car.
3. Otmar uses the words “we’re confident that Oscar signed with us..”. I mean signing a contract is a rather binary affair: did or did not!
I’m also confident that McLaren would not have signed a contract with Oscar without being 100% certain that he was available. Someone is being rather amateurish here: I guess we’ll see what CRB says on Monday!
27th August 2022, 18:00
In regard to point 3. I don’t think Otmar has ever said Oscar signed a contract. He says ‘the thing he signed’, which I understand to be a ‘heads of agreement’. Which isn’t a contract – it’s more of a tool to understand that you plan to sign a contract.
I don’t think Otmar is looking for the CRB to say Alpine have a valid contract, more that they are being tough to get some compensation for financing his junior career.
28th August 2022, 0:23
It would be useful to know whether the CRB is reviewing one contact or two?
Is it only reviewing Alpine’s contract with Oscar?
As far as i know, McLaren have not made any announcement about the replacement for Danny Ric. It could be anybody. It might be someone who has actually had a start in F1 before now, or someone who has a podium finish. There was also no announcement from Williams either.
A very interesting state of affairs.
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