Piastri insists he told Alpine “multiple times” he would not drive for them in 2023

2022 Dutch Grand Prix

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Oscar Piastri has dismissed Alpine’s claims he indicated he would drive for them in 2023, after the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board confirmed he has a valid agreement with rivals McLaren next year.

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer last week accused Piastri of lacking “integrity” and said the driver had indicated he was “thankful” when told he would drive for the team next year.

However Piastri, who is in his third year as an Alpine junior driver, insists he told the team on more than one occasion he would not continue with them in 2023. Despite that, the team announced following the Hungarian Grand Prix he would take the seat Fernando Alonso will vacate at the end of this season.

Piastri said his decision “was made well in advance” of that, which “made Alpine’s announcement probably even more confusing and upsetting because we had told the team that I wasn’t going to continue.” He told the official F1 website it was “upsetting as the announcement was false and it also denied me the opportunity to properly say goodbye to everyone at Enstone”.

Soon after Alpine’s announcement, Piastri reacted by stating on social media he would not drive for them in a post which concluded by describing the team’s statement as “wrong”.

“I had been with team for a bit over two and a half years now, and for the rest of the team to find out I was leaving in that manner was very upsetting,” he said. “I still haven’t had the opportunity to say goodbye and it’s something I want to do to show my gratitude to all the men and women at Enstone.”

Szafnauer said he informed Piastri of their decision to promote him while he was working on the team’s simulator. Piastri’s recollection of the encounter was slightly different.

“That was a bizarre and frankly upsetting episode,” he said. “It was done publicly in front of some members of the team who were oblivious to the situation and I didn’t want to cause a scene in front of them.

“Once we were in private, I told Otmar what our position was and what he had been told multiple times before that. It was very surprising to me to make that announcement”.

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Piastri said he felt it was necessary to publicly correct Alpine’s claim he would join the team.

“It was the biggest moment of my career and probably my life up to now,” he explained. “To have that falsely announced was something my management and I felt we had to correct and there was also potential legal implications if we didn’t deny the announcement.

“It was not intended to be pointed or in any way anything more than factual. The last line was quite a strong one, but with the CRB ruling, it shows it was purely a fact”.

He said his decision to leave the team was prompted by the expectation they intended to keep Alonso alongside the already-contracted Esteban Ocon.

“The CRB ruling has confirmed I didn’t have a contract for the 2023 season [with Alpine],” he said. “I was free to choose my destiny – and I felt McLaren was a great opportunity. They were very straightforward and very keen and enthusiastic to have me. To be completely honest, there was a lack of clarity around my future at the team at Alpine.”

“They publicly stated they wished to continue with Fernando for at least one or two more years. I respect that. But after spending the year out, my hopes were firmly set on an Alpine seat.”

Alonso said he chose to join Aston Martin because he felt unsure Alpine was committed to him. Piastri felt his position was similar, saying there was “a bit of a strange feeling in negotiations” and he “didn’t feel like it was the right decision” to stay with the team.

“The lack of clarity around my future, and ultimately a breakdown in trust, I felt the very attractive offer of McLaren and the positive dealings with them thus far were all reasons why I felt McLaren was where I was best off for the future,” he concluded.

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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...

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14 comments on “Piastri insists he told Alpine “multiple times” he would not drive for them in 2023”

  1. Very well-put statement.

  2. Piastri has made the right choice.
    No one should commit to anything if it is a one side commitment.
    It wasn’t Piastri that lacked commitment. It was Alpine!
    With this situation, there was a lot of talk regarding the junior programs of the teams.
    It is now very straightforward that all the junior programs are undermined by the teams.
    They waste so much young talent…

  3. There seem a few contradictions in the events over Piastri…and not blaming either party…but it seems he signed his Mclaren contract on July 4th…yet he cannot have informed Alpine or they would not have put out the statement that he was driving for them…and no one informed Dan Ric either…and not blaming Otmar I suspect decisions were taken from above…
    I do wish Piastri well…a lot of pressure though

    1. Riccardo has been clear that he knew he was leaving McLaren in July. He just didn’t want to get involved in Alpine’s mess.

      I’ve heard the suggestions that Rossi was in sole charge of driver negotiations, but there’s no evidence of that. Either way, Szafnauer isn’t coming out of this looking good.

    2. He didn’t have to inform them of his contract, he informed them he wouldn’t be driving for them next year. It seems pretty straightforward to me, Alpine we’re dragging their feet with indecision for both Alonso and Piastri’s contract and in the end they both went elsewhere. It seems pretty black and white that Alpine have made a hash of things and, in my opinion, releasing statements that someone will drive for you next season without consultation with the driver is pretty seedy.

    3. Someone pointed out that Ricciardo’s statement about being committed to McLaren might also be to strenghten his own position in negotiations as the clause to cancel for 2023 could only be activated by the driver and with his statement it would show McLaren he did not intend to activate it, thus ensuring that they would need to pay him to activate the clause.

  4. How is it so often Otmar finds himself in these sorts of situations and makes himself look like a fool?

  5. This just keeps getting stranger. For every yard further into the story we go – Alpine never look any better.

  6. Looks like all parties concerned are just trying to save face now which is totally understandable.

    It was a can of worms that got opened and dropped on the floor, and everybody managed to stand in it to some degree.
    I think it best if we just push this aside and move on.
    The bosses at Alpine are left scratching their heads a bit, but hey – they don’t get paid peanuts.
    Let them earn their pay and find a driver that fits their car.

    Next season we have a highly rated rookie in a good team to watch. That’s cool with me :)

  7. Well, given recent events, I’m more inclined to believe Oscar than Otmar.

    It seems Alpine made their own mess by publicly stating they preferred Fernando over Oscar – so Oscar looked elsewhere. If, as Oscar says, Alpine knew of his decision – their announcement he would drive for them before they checked with the CRB is just bizarre.

    1. Same here – I’d given Otmar the benefit of the doubt prior to reading Oscar’s latest.
      That story’s moot tho, Piastri’s ensconced and none of the candidates for the Alpine seat will care too much.

  8. The question I have to ask is does it really matter who said what to who. Or who didn’t. Piastri is going to McLaren and Alpine have a vacant seat. As far as we know this looks likely to go to either Gasly or Ricciardo. All we need to know is who.

    I don’t think anyone comes out looking great from this. Not Alpine, not Oscar, not McLaren not Mark Webber. Time to move on.

  9. Or how high level strategic errors can have catastrophic domino consequences. Three drivers, two seats. I personally wouldn’t have signed Ocon for so long and would have replaced him with Oscar. They wanted Oscar and they wanted Alonso, so locking Ocon in was maybe a mistake ? They obviously pay the price of some kind of indecision at the top management.

  10. Otmar is such a brilliant leader.

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