Piastri joins McLaren for 2023 as FIA’s contract board rules against Alpine

2022 F1 season

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The FIA’s Contract Recognition Board has ruled against Alpine in the team’s dispute with McLaren over the future of Oscar Piastri.

McLaren reacted immediately to the decision by confirming the reigning Formula 2 champion will make his Formula 1 debut with them next year. The contract between the two was signed on the day after the British Grand Prix two months ago.

After losing Fernando Alonso to Aston Martin for 2023, Alpine announced they would promote their reserve driver Piastri to a race seat for 2023.

However the reigning Formula 2 champion publicly disputed the deal. His manager Mark Webber was understood to have negotiated a move to McLaren for his protege instead.

McLaren subsequently announced Daniel Ricciardo would leave the team at the end of 2022, one year earlier than planned, freeing up a seat alongside Lando Norris.

A tribunal appointed by the CRB met on the Monday after the Belgian Grand Prix to discuss the two teams’ claim to the driver. The tribunal “issued a unanimous decision that the only contract to be recognised by the board is the contract between McLaren Racing Limited and Mr Piastri dated 4th July 2022.”

McLaren announced Piastri has joined them on a “multi-year” deal beginning next year following his departure from Alpine. The CRB acknowledged Piastri is “entitled to drive for McLaren Racing Limited for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.”

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown described Piastri as “one of the up-and-coming talents coming through the feeder series into F1.”

“Winning both F3 and F2 in successive rookie seasons is a real achievement and testament to his talent in single-seater racing,” Brown continued.

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“In Lando and Oscar we have a young, exciting F1 line-up with a huge amount of potential, standing us in good stead to achieve our future ambitions. Oscar is an exciting addition to the McLaren family, and we look forward to seeing him grow with our F1 team.”

Biography: Oscar Piastri
Piastri is celebrating the long-awaited news of his F1 debut. “I’m extremely excited to be making my F1 debut with such a prestigious team as McLaren and I’m very grateful for the opportunity that’s been offered to me.

“The team has a long tradition of giving young talent a chance, and I’m looking forward to working hard alongside Lando to push the team towards the front of the grid. I’m focused on preparing for my F1 debut in 2023 and starting my F1 career in papaya.”

The CRB’s decision means Alpine will have to look again for a driver to partner Esteban Ocon next year. Free agent Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly, who is contracted to AlphaTauri for next year, are among those who have been linked to the seat, while Ocon has expressed a preference for Haas driver Mick Schumacher.

Alpine acknowledged the CRB’s decision and stated they “consider the matter closed on our side.” They intend to “announce our full 2023 driver line-up in due course.”

The members of the CRB tribunal were Ian Hunter QC, Professor Klaus Peter Berger, Matthieu de Boisseson and Stefano Azzali.

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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...
Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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67 comments on “Piastri joins McLaren for 2023 as FIA’s contract board rules against Alpine”

  1. I guess Palou will stay with Ganassi then, if his defence was that they’d be taking away his F1 chance by not allowing to move…

    1. @hunocsi that was a bad argument anyway! :P

    2. The only F1 chance he mentioned was TIES mclaren have between their teams, doing F1 testing / free practice would be part of that deal and possibly an option for future years.

      1. I can imagine his contract has a release clause if offered an F1 race drive for 2023, but not the rest.

  2. Otmar should probably be preparing his CV at this point. First Fernando bolts unexpectedly (at least to Otmar) and now, after all of Otmar’s histrionics about how Oscar had signed a piece of paper, the CRB has said he is free to leave as well, it just looks like there is a real lack of any sort of organizational control at Alpine.

    1. From what we understood, Otmar was not the one managing the drivers’s contract. Piastri’s contract was epribably signed vefore he cale to Alpine. More Rossi’s mess, apparently. But let’s say that Otmar’s comments to the media was quite shabby and unfair to Piastri…

      1. Not only were Otmar’s comments quite shabby and unfair, but the presumption that he was their driver for 2023 and the subsequent press release stating that, without even consulting with Oscar has to fall on Otmar’s shoulders as well.

        1. Says he did tell Piastri who was sitting in a sim at the time & Oscar gave him a smile. Silence and a stupid grin makes sense from a pre-rookie if you assume Alonso is telling the truth about reacting to Vettel’s departure /AM offer & Webber swinging the McLaren seat because Oscar had no drive for ‘23. Oscar wouldn’t have known what to say to 2 seats until he had consulted with Mark & legal.
          Meantime Otmar announces.

    2. Deiver contracts are not part of Otmar’s tasks; it’s Rossi’s table – and he had shown total incompetence!
      Red Bull has never messed up a young drivers’ contract in 15 years…

      1. Rossi may be responsible for the contracts themselves, but as the Team Principle, it is his responsibility to understand what is in the contracts.

      2. Yes, but Otmar’s the one who accused Piastri of lacking integrity. :/

    3. @g-funk This is not looking good for Otmar. Whether he negotiated the contracts is irrelevant, he still has to manage them and work with them even if they are not what he would have negotiated himself.

  3. Finally, this open secret became official.

  4. Exciting line-up for sure. Big pressure on Piastri, too.

    Szafnauer really bungled this affair, from taking Piastri for granted, to convincing Alonso to leave, and then all the public bluster after Piastri denied their one-sided claim he’d drive for them.

  5. someone or something
    2nd September 2022, 15:11

    Okay, this sounds like a screw-up of epic proportions on Alpine’s side. They were seriously expecting Piastri to be at their beck and call without a valid contract?! And then make such noise about the Aussie’s alleged lack of integrity?
    Just … wow.
    To think I gave Alpine the benefit of doubt …

  6. Some costly decisions by Alpine… first locking Ocon to such a long deal (what were they thinking, really??), then playing games with Alonso thinking they had Piastri as back up, then losing Piastri for free!

    I expected at least some money exchange between McLaren and Alpine, but apparently it was so clear cut that nothing of sorts is going to happen. That’s surely going to put them in the back foot. I mean, if they end up hiring Mick Schumacher, that’s a BIG step backwards in terms of drivers compared to the experience of Alonso and the potential of Piastri.

    Only getting Gasly would sort of make amends, but then Ocon vs Gasly that’s a recipe for disaster!

    1. Absolutely, to think they could have gone into the 2023 season with an Alonso-Piastri line-up.

      Szafnauer will have to come up with a pretty good story for the board to explain that.

    2. Exactly correct here I think. It does look like a huge mess-up. Alonso has done great with Alpine so before letting him go someone really should have made sure Piastri’s contract and his willingness to drive for them, was watertight. The result of this is that they have lost two drivers now.

      I think Ocon and Gasly may get on OK but there may be no warmth between them. They should be capable of being professional though. Daniel might look quite an attractive prospect. I don’t think they will go for Mick if they don’t have to.

      1. By letting Alonso go I mean not offering him a two-year contract. I know they didn’t know he intended to leave them but they should have made sure about Piastri in case.

  7. Since Otmar has said that there wasn’t a “July 31” clause in the contract, then there must be some other provision in the contract which caused their contract to be invalidated.

    Pure speculation on my part, but I’m guessing that the contract they had entered into promised Oscar a multi-year seat contingent on him winning the F2 championship. Alpine may have figured he wouldn’t win the championship in his rookie year. So while Alpine may have considered that they had a contract with Piastri, they have been in breach since the start of the season, as they haven’t given him a seat.

    That’s why Otmar was bleating on about “loyalty” a lot. You only expect loyalty where you aren’t holding up your end of the bargain, otherwise it’s simply an agreement.

    1. Reading elsewhere, it looks like the Alpine contract was for an F2 seat (not F1) but had the ability to promote him to F1 should they choose. However, the contract was frustrated by Oscar winning the championship (and being ineligible to race in F2). Alpine didn’t submit it to the CRB because it wasn’t even an F1 contract. Oscar has technically been a free agent all year.

      1. They should take a young drivers’ contract crash course from Red Bull – not messing up one single time in…15 years?!

      2. Do you have a link? I’m interested in reading as well.

      3. @davidS that’s interesting and kinda perhaps makes a bit of sense. Regardless of what the contract looked like, or whether it was Otmar or Rossi or whomever. Alpine look like idiots, bullies – incompetent? This always seemed the most likely outcome.

        The first question I’d ask at Enstone on Monday morning is “why did we publicly say stuff we should knew we couldn’t back up?”

        If in doubt – say nothing.

      4. @davids Seems to fit. @bernasaurus I guess they felt that they only move left was to try bouncing a young driver into agreeing to race for them by making it sound done and dusted. I can see Alpine’s side to some extent: imagine if Hamilton, say, had decided to sign for Ferrari in 2007 after being supported by McLaren for years, or Max for Mercedes (presuming they could make the switch contractually-speaking, of course). At the same time, teams are happy to drop drivers quickly when better options come along and make plenty of other decisions purely for their own benefit. So a driver doing the same, if he can, seems par for the course. Ultimately the drivers are the ones taking the real risks on track and in disputes between teams and drivers, I tend to side with the latter.

  8. Hope Norris doesn’t end Piastri’s career, he might have made a better name for himself by consistently beating Ocon (assuming he lives up to the hype)

    1. He didn’t end Sainz’ career, so we’ll see. Like he said himself, you never know when it’s your turn to get fired. I don’t think this will happen to Lando, but imagine Piastri does as good as him or better. Then why not… This is a crazy sport.

    2. @pastaman I’m not so concerned. Piastri will be given plenty of leeway in performance expectation in his rookie year, if he is all he’s cracked up to be we will be punchy and scoring decent points to at least justify the money spent on ending Ricciardo’s contract prematurely. In 2024 the pressure will be on not just for Piastri but Norris as well and time will tell who will buckle.

      1. Best case scenario we could be in for an alonso vs hamilton situation, except these are closer in age.

  9. This might damage the already tarnished reputation of Alpine and it’s management. One hopes that all teams learn from this and manage their talent pool better.
    And credit where it’s due– Mark Webber has proved to be a shrewd manager.

    1. @webtel Not sure shrewd is the right word, I would use the word ballsy instead. Convincing your client to sign a contract for a race seat when the other contracting party have active contracts for their only two race seats is taking one hell if a risk. If McLaren couldn’t have convinced Ricciardo to give up his seat then his client is in no man’s land.

      1. It’s not like McLaren couldn’t loan him to Williams instead of Alpine…

        1. For all the talk Rossi was doing – I only saw him get as far as saying Alpine were willing to loan him to a competitor whereas the solid signal of intentions was given when they signed Ocon for a long deal.
          Williams first ask to seat Piastri would be the Lavazza money. A rookie, no matter how highly regarded, would be unlikely to benefit them much otherwise in the first half of the season & if he did get them decent points he’d be up for redrafting.
          Piastri/Webber had no reason to think he’d actually get a drive – so they signed for Ricciardo’s seat.

    2. French management….

      1. Could be worse, Italian management..

        1. Could be worse;
          French management
          Italian strategy
          English hospitality services
          German PR

  10. McLaren were very impressive throughout this entire process acting with dignity and professionalism, Alpine and Otmar not so much. Smearing someone in the public eye because you didn’t get your way is pretty reprehensible behavior.

    1. @slowmo

      Impressive, i think no one came out lookinb good Alpine are the biggest losers but Mclaren have been qute disrespectful to Ricciardo in all of this

      1. Ricciardo deserves it, sadly.

        You can’t be getting crushed by your teammate to that degree if you’re meant to be the experienced one.

      2. Who cares what happens to Ricciardo? He shouldn’t have been beaten so soundly by a teammate he was going to “end”
        Plus, even he doesn’t think he’s been disrespected. At least publicly

        1. Well…. I do! Many asked for multiple chances for lesser drivers than RIC, why not give RIC actually the 1st chance?!?!? He promoted to RBR on merit, he went to Renault and then McLaren on merit… now it’s the 1st time he needs a chance to remain in F1… and I think he really deserve it.
          Also, ending Lando’s carreer was exaggerated without doubt, pretty much a fictional outcome inflated probably by the same F1 fans who saw PER a title contender after Monaco. Let’s be honest, Lando’s start in F1 wasn’t 110% convincing, but it seemed there’s more potential than guys like Gasly, Ocon, Albon etc. He’s champ material for sure, he just needs the stars to allign for him.

          1. I believe that Ricciardo is one of the most overhyped and overrated drivers in the last 15 years who still has a race seat. Unfortunately, he started believing his own hype after 2014, when he beat Vettel who has never been the same without an exhaust blown diffuser.
            Running away from Red Bull because Verstappen was only getting stronger wasn’t a smart move either.

      3. They were not disrespectful to Ricciardo, they made sure to sort his future before they made any official announcement about Piastri. They also clearly came to a mutual agreement that suited both parties.

        Ricciardo has underperformed massively for 18 months and been paid handsomely for doing so. In the real world he’d have been sacked by now. He’s had his chance and blew it.

    2. On this side of the coin, absolutely they have. Staying quiet and letting Alpine bungle it was wise.
      I feel like their behaviour towards Ricciardo was disgraceful though. Letting him go is one thing, but having Zak Brown publicly back Ricciardo and say he’ll still be at McLaren for 2023, just days after signing Piastri? What were they playing at, seriously.

      1. I’d suggest they were saying what they were contractually bound to at that time but plans change and contracts can be cancelled.

      2. Yes finally someone said it, agree entirely. I’m seeing all this winging here of alpine management but I’m astounded McLaren kept this all secret for so long including from Ricciardo. How long would of they openly lied to Ricciardo if the Vettel musical chairs didn’t start. Very disrespectful from McLaren especially Zak.

        1. How do you know Ricciardo hadn’t been told? He might have known since the signing but had to put up a front until is exit was negotiated. Maybe McLaren were open with all parties (except Alpine).

        2. All year I suspect but like letting go of a football coach – there’s really only a choice of bad ways to do it.

    3. But fully in line with what we’ve seen from the team the last decade, so hardly a surprise.

  11. https://www.racefans.net/2022/08/02/piastri-makes-shock-announcement-he-will-not-debut-in-f1-with-alpine-next-year/#comment-4847485

    “Jasper” was spot on. They really did have inside knowledge!

    Fair play to Piastri; Alpine were stringing him along trying to keep Alonso while McLaren made a clear offer.

  12. For me this just seems to come down to a lack of communication on both sides. And I also kinda think that Piastri & his management team come out of this looking bad as he doesn’t seem to have told Alpine what he was doing.

    The deal he signed with Mclaren seems to have been done on July 4th and that means he would have been negotiating with McLaren before that date.

    So did he not inform Alpine he was talking to another team, Did he not tell them he’d signed with McLaren? He must have known they believed they had him under contract as them looking at sending him to Williams for a year before bringing him back to race for them was been talked about quite openly.

    I just don’t like the fact that he seemingly went and did the McLaren deal, Didn’t tell Alpine that he’d done it knowing that they were negotiating with Alonso around the belief that they were going to bring Piastri in for 2024. Had he told them he was talking to Mclaren, Had he told them he’d signed for Mclaren maybe they would have offered Alonso the multi-year deal he seemingly was looking for.

    If that were me i’d have gone to Alpine & told them what I was thinking & what I wanted to do. I’d have told them i’d had an offer from another team & that I wanted to take it. I’d want to be open & upfront not just because thats the way I am anyway but also because why risk burning bridges when in the future you may want (Or need if it’s the only seat available) to go back there.

    1. I’m inclined to agree with this as well. I don’t think Piastri, or the team around him come out of this smelling of roses. They have been quite devious in their dealings. Alpine has just been incompetent.

    2. Perhaps what we don’t know, is that the Williams deal was unlikely to become reality?
      How bad can Williams’ situation be, that Piastri and Webber would prefer to look like the disloyal bad guys, than go drive at Williams.

    3. I don’t see it that way at all. The results of the CRB indicate there was either no F1 contract at all or there was a clause that allowed Oscar an out. In either case, Oscar and his management were free to negotiate with anyone they want. They were, by the ruling of the CRB, not under contract with Alpine. Good on Oscar for taking his destiny into his own hands rather than waiting for Alpine to decide if they were going to send him to Williams or be their second choice behind re-signing Alonso.

    4. You say that, but it was fine for Alpine to announce him as their driver WITHOUT his consent?

      This would be fine if CBR ruled he had a valid contract with Alpine but he didn’t. If he did have one at the time he signed the McLaren deal.

      Also do no forget Alpine only went and annouce him after Alonso left. And they were on the record saying they wanted to extend Alonso.

    5. Pretty tough choice to jeopardise a sure thing by inviting a third party to the table creating a literal three body problem, particularly when the 3rd party clearly has their own centre of gravity issues.

    6. Sources elsewhere are reporting that Oscars management clearly told alpine both they were in chats with other teams and also they had signed with mclaren

  13. All this fighting over a rookie that’s gone behind his employer’s back…

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he looks weak next to Norris or simply finds McLaren to be a bit of a disappointing team, like all their drivers for the past 20 years.

    1. His employer is McLaren, so not sure how he went behind their backs.

    2. You can’t be his employer withour a valid contract. And Alpine did not have a valid contract.

  14. When you believe you can play ‘The Lord’ of the F1 race seat to a young driver.
    I’m sure Alpine believed they could keep him salivating for a few years being so close to a race cocpit.

  15. I doubt this will be the last “spicy news” we hear from Oscar

  16. I guess all teams will look over their contract signing routines after this. I doubt any more similar stories will appear in the next few years with any contract signed from here on.

    1. I doubt any more similar stories will appear in the next few years with any contract signed from here on.

      I agree, as other teams seem to have their act(s) together. The last odd one I recall was Sauber and all the drivers they signed……

  17. It has something hilarious when teams live up to their stereotypes. All that is unfolding is so according to my expectations and probably that of everyone outside of this organisation. They live up to projecting incompetence every single time around. Since Abiteboul have left, there are some minor hints of improvement but DNA is bigger than a temporary team boss. Renault/Alpine have been the laughing stock of Formula 1 for decades now and that is not due to team members on the ground working their b of, its the management and the management of the overall global company. Their DNA simply does not allow success as they are all focused on other things and generally put the wrong people in jobs. Ferrari can be very pleased Alpine is around.

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