Drivers should “be wary” with social media posts after Piastri comments – Wolff

2022 Belgian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes Oscar Piastri should have taken more care when he publicly stated he will not drive for his Alpine team in Formula 1 next year.

Alpine announced Piastri as its new driver for 2023 earlier this month, but he swiftly denied their claim on social media, calling it “wrong”. Piastri is pursuing a move to McLaren, and tomorrow the two teams will appear before the Contract Recognition Board which will rule on the matter.

Wolff, whose former Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon now races for Alpine, said young drivers should respect the investment made by teams in advancing their careers, and be careful with the comments they make about them publicly.

“I have bigger problems to enjoy [than to] sit on the balcony like in The Muppet Show, to watch the show pan out in front of my eyes,” said Wolff. “I think it’s important that junior programmes are being respected. I think some of the kids should be wary of what they say on Twitter about multinational organisations.

“But I have no insight into the contract. I believe in karma. I believe in integrity. But I’m not here to judge because as I said, I don’t know the legal situation.”

Mercedes promoted one junior driver, George Russell, to their team this year. Two other drivers associated with the team, Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne, are both F2 (formerly GP2) champions and have won the Formula E world championship over the last two seasons.

De Vries has been tipped to join Williams next year, having appeared for the team and Mercedes during practice this year. Wolff says Vandoorne’s unsuccessful prior stint in F1 with McLaren is why De Vries is the favourite among the pair to win promotion next year.

“I think Formula 1 is so brutal that the ones who are being ejected from the seat, it’s very difficult to come back,” he said. “That’s why Nyck is in the frame and Stoffel not anymore. But this is how the system works.”

Wolff heaped praise on the efforts of his drivers Russell and Lewis Hamilton after the team’s poor performance in qualifying which they ended 1.8 seconds ahead of pace-setter Max Verstappen.

“This is the only thing that is really great in the garage, in the car today and that is its drivers. The car is not great, to say the least, but the drivers are the best. I’m happy that we in a stable condition that we can say we have Lewis and George in the car.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 Belgian Grand Prix

Browse all 2022 Belgian Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

26 comments on “Drivers should “be wary” with social media posts after Piastri comments – Wolff”

  1. “I think it’s important that junior programmes are being respected”

    Bit of a bold statement. Yeah, sure, a company spend millions on your career, but in the end it’s YOUR career. If an agreement ends (which will be decided on tomorrow), you are free to go. Your ‘loyalty’ isn’t infinite and if a different team puts faith in your capabilities, then surely you should be allowed to move without issues. Loyalty isn’t bought, it’s rented. And that means it has a start and end. If Alpine were so keen on holding onto Piastri, they should’ve made him a better offer than McLaren did.

    Shifting the blame to a driver when he gets a better offer doesn’t seem fair, regardless of how much money you’ve spend on him. You don’t own him (unless he’s under contract, but even then it’s only a temp ownership). It’s a human being, not an object.

    1. Absolutely, while Alpine (and Wolff) are keen to emphasize the ‘investment’ they made, one should not forget that there is only one reason they did so: they think they’ll benefit by having this particular driver at their disposal.

      For Piastri, and other juniors, being ‘invested in’ also comes at a cost of denying them alternative opportunities. We’ve seen countless junior drivers shoved off into uncompetitive seats, irrelevant series, and never make it to F1 – or if they do, get discarded after a short stint on loan to a backmarker team. That’s a risk for the juniors, especially because they only have a small window of time to make the step into F1 before a new-new generation becomes an option. A contract should thus always give both parties a chance to leave it when they feel it no longer serves their purpose.

    2. Loyalty isn’t bought, it’s rented. And that means it has a start and end.

      Loyalty can’t be traded for money or anything else, nor does it end.
      What you are thinking of is called an agreement. A contract, of sorts….
      Someone who is loyal does not ‘cheat’ on their partner and sign a contract with someone else behind their back.

      Piastri needs to make sure he doesn’t make a habit of putting himself first too much like that, or he’ll make himself politically unattractive to the teams. There are only 10 of them after all – and with manufacturer links, available options can narrow very quickly.
      Ask Alonso….

      1. S, I believe you have conflated value with price. Loyalty has a price but is invaluable. Either Alpine or Oscar didn’t pay the price to retain loyalty, with the result that loyalty has gone.

    3. The way I see this could’ve turned out is… maybe they told Piastri verbally, that he’s in the seat next year… only for him to deny them verbally… and then Alpine team thought they’d pressure him by announcing it publicly.

      Otherwise kids these days are coached by their managers well enough… especially on what not to speak. Hence he was forced to issue the tweet himself deny the contract.

      I find it doubtful that piastri would’ve tweeted that without talking to his management

  2. I don’t know the legal situation.


  3. Loyalty isn’t bought, it’s rented.

    This may well be true in F1, but it’s a bit of a sad state of affairs.

    1. Sorry. That was meant to be a reply to @duuxdeluxe

    2. @cairnsfella It’s true and has been so forever. (Of course, not all rents are in the form of economic currencies).

  4. Those multinationals are professional organisations. When they invest millions then they have proper contracts what they can expect in return.
    We’ll see soon what’s in that contract.

    But even with those contracts I’d expect those companies to inform their staff before they publicly announce them into a new role.

    1. As per Otmar (if you believe him), he did inform Oscar in the simulator before the public announcement.

      He also says that Piastri is working in the simulator this week.

      Sounds quite odd to me to be honest. But I hope Otmar isn’t straight out lying to everyone

      1. Hard to take Otmar seriously when he said 24 hours before Alonso signed with Aston Martin that he didn’t think there would be any problems negotiating Alonso’s contract or retaining him.

        The two critical issues to me, are 1) When did Alpine extend Piastri’s contract and 2) When did they NOTIFY Piastri that they had extended his contract?

  5. I believe that team principals should be wary of commenting to the press about people and situations they are not involved in.

  6. Everybody should “be wary” of posting on Social Media.

    It has become the equivalent of getting drunk at the Christmas party and poking fun at the Boss.

    They might laugh it off but it’s never forgotten.

  7. Not just Toto as apparently most in the paddock have been very unimpressed with Piastri’s conduct.

    Also seems that McLaren are now less confident they have a valid contract with him than they were as it seems he and/or his management team may have misrepresented elements of his Alpine deal.

    1. From what I heard from Seidl once, he prefers a fast driver but not a nice driver since he said the attitude can be disciplined by them. I think this was in an interview on the main F1 youtube channel. Yes, it helps, but Piastri’s conduct already can give a hint of his behavior once signed by a team. Is this what Mclaren or any F1 team want from a driver? He has not even done a race or FP1 in this category. Remember, even the best are still prone to the craziest mistakes during the start, like Vettel when he got the fastest penalty in the history of the sport. Piastri is not going to give a good impression if he does something bad or silly in his first entry really.

    2. I noticed Horner came out saying similar things about respecting driver investment. I think the establishment is about to close ranks and say punk F2 champions and their managers don’t get to humiliate multinational companies who pump millions every year into motorsport on a technicality. Autosport said last week the whole July date thing is a misnomer. Something that should have been signed in triplicate was signed twice, it’s that kind of thing Piastri camp is using here. Sure I’m completely wrong an CRB will rule for Mclaren tomorrow.

  8. I hope Alpine will win in court, and that they will keep him as their reserve driver until the end of 2024, without letting him drive anywhere else. Just ruin his career before it started. That’s karma.

    1. @spafrancorchamps I doubt that would happen. A six-month gardening leave would be equally effective, costs less money, would probably stand up in court given previous information (although that’s not definite) and doesn’t require the team to keep around someone who clearly prefers not to be there.

  9. I see a lot of people think loyalty to a company is important, but in F1 drivers get dropped whenever convenient. Hell, some drivers get strung along for years and never even get a drive. Even engineers / designers and team bosses get unceremoniously dumped without a second thought. Right now heaps of press and fans are calling for Binotto’s head to be chopped, because Ferrari made a few bad calls.

    There is no loyalty in this game, just fools who think it’s not a cutthroat winner takes all corporate stomping ground. Wolff is a total hypocrite, he backstabbed everyone possible on his rise to the top, Brawn still has knives sticking out of his back, and us fans have very little idea how many heads have rolled behind the scenes.

    Piastri is playing the game he needs to, he needs to get into the fastest car, with the most committed team with the most opportunities possible. If he manages to outperform his teammate, he will get an offer from an even better team and leave without a second thought. That’s his job. If he is crap, that the with rip his contract up and shelve him while they employ someone better.

    Just go back and look at Williams history, the dumped drivers faster than they could fax new drivers contracts, that cutthroat attitude got them multiple WDC & WCC. Loyalty isn’t an ideal to strive for in competitive industries, rewarding performance and constant improvement is.

    1. I don’t think the issue here is really about loyalty. Rather, it’s about being careful about the image you project especially before you have (earned) the clout that allows you to get away with certain things. Your reputation could precede you in certain situations to your detriment. I’m not sure Oscar really had to post that tweet and I think there could have been better ways for him and his management to resolve the contractual mess. I’ll hasten to add that I don’t think Alpine were in order to make the announcement that hastily without ensuring everything was tied up.

  10. So we’ll know by the end of Monday (UK time) what happens to Oscar. I do hope he hasn’t ruined his career as an F1 driver.

  11. “I think some of the kids should be wary of what they say on Twitter about multinational organisations”

    Kids these days need to be disciplined to become good corporate mouthpieces.

  12. Wolff is still into slavery I see. Alpine had to be more careful with tweets. Piastri might have seen social media as the last resort.

  13. Multinational organisations should also be wary of what they put on social platforms, although Mercedes itself has little to worry about on that front.

  14. Still yet to see anyone explain why Piastri would want to go to McLaren over Alpine. Both teams have equal future prospects. Perhaps McLaren just offered a bigger pay package? They certainly have deep pockets.

    (Also McLaren should bring Vandoorne back for a year!)

Comments are closed.