Oscar Piastri to drive for McLaren in 2023 as Alpine loses Formula 1 contract battle

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McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl speaks to Sky Sports after it was announced that Oscar Piastri will drive for Mclaren in 2023

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl speaks to Sky Sports after it was announced that Oscar Piastri will drive for Mclaren in 2023

Oscar Piastri will drive for McLaren in 2023 after the FIA’s Contract Recognition Council ruled in their favor over current employers Alpine.

The verdict, ending an extraordinary transfer saga and contract battle, means Alpine have lost their highly rated reserve driver and are still on the hunt for a replacement for Fernando Alonso for next season.

Alpine had been adamant that they had a valid contract for Piastri to drive for them in 2023, signed last November, and even announced the Australian’s promotion in early August. But Piastri, who immediately refuted the team’s confirmation, and his management believed he had a deal with McLaren because his Alpine clause had expired.

The four-person Contract Recognition Board (CRB) met on Monday to open a hearing into the dispute and revealed on Friday that it had ruled unanimously in favor of McLaren and Piastri.

Sky Sports News understands that key parts of the Alpine contract documents were not signed by Piastri, while the French side also failed to adequately prove the expenses on his behalf after funding his junior career.

The CRB said Piastri signed a deal with McLaren on July 4 and was eligible to drive for the team in 2023 and 2024 – and McLaren immediately announced a multi-year deal for a new rookie driver with Lando Norris.

Former world champion Jenson Button believes Oscar Piastri shouldn't be making enemies so early in his F1 career amid a contract dispute between Apline and McLaren.

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Former world champion Jenson Button believes Oscar Piastri shouldn’t be making enemies so early in his F1 career amid a contract dispute between Apline and McLaren.

Former world champion Jenson Button believes Oscar Piastri shouldn’t be making enemies so early in his F1 career amid a contract dispute between Apline and McLaren.

“I am extremely excited to make my F1 debut with such a prestigious team as McLaren and I am very grateful for the opportunity given to me,” said Piastri.

“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 to the front of the grid.”

Alpine said shortly after that they “now consider the matter closed” and will announce their driver line-up in due course.

The French outfit, currently ahead of McLaren in an F1 on-track battle for fourth place, are targeting Pierre Gasly as Esteban Ocon’s next team-mate.

Gasly has signed a contract with AlphaTauri for 2023 but Red Bull is ready to release the Frenchman, who only had half a season alongside Verstappen in 2019 before being sent back to the sister team.

Why did the Alpine case fail? Explaining Piastri’s big move

Craig Slater of Sky Sports News

“As for why Alpine didn’t succeed here, I understand that key pieces of paper may not have had Piastri’s signature.

“They couldn’t even back up the expenses they also incurred on his behalf.

“The timing is fascinating as McLaren signed Piastri on July 4. Nine days later their current driver Daniel Ricciardo, who will not be theirs next year, announced he would stay with the team.

“Andreas Seidl said he kept Ricciardo updated throughout, but it seems to be a bit of a conflict in timeline and timing.

“It’s hard to take for Alpine. They are said to have invested nearly £10m in Piastri’s career.

“I understand that they will now have to look very carefully at how they run their contract business. One or two people linked to this team have observed that Red Bull never makes these mistakes when they have young drivers, it doesn’t there’s no way another team can come and poach them because they’re absolutely watertight in what they do.

“They announced that they were drawing a line under this and that they would not seek compensation in the High Court either.

“The only silver lining from an Alpine perspective is that I think in that process they may have identified that they could get Pierre Gasly from the AlphaTauri team.

“He’s a winning driver, more experienced than Piastri, and I think he’s been their preferred option for at least the last week and I expect him to make the move.”

McLaren delighted after the arrival of rising star Piastri

McLaren had always been confident in signing Piastri, having already agreed a payment to terminate Daniel Ricciardo’s contract early at the end of 2022.

They have now confirmed one of the hottest properties in motorsport, with Piastri having followed in the footsteps of Charles Leclerc and George Russell by winning the Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles in consecutive seasons.

“Oscar is one of the promising talents coming through the feeder series in F1 and we are delighted to have him join the team for 2023,” said McLaren CEO Zak Brown.

“To win in both F3 and F2 in successive rookie seasons is a real achievement and a testament to his talent in single-seater racing. At Lando and Oscar, we have a young and exciting F1 team with huge potential, which which puts us in a good position to achieve our future ambitions.”

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has said he believes current reserve driver Oscar Piastri has signed with McLaren for next season.

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Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has said he believes current reserve driver Oscar Piastri has signed with McLaren for next season.

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has said he believes current reserve driver Oscar Piastri has signed with McLaren for next season.

Andreas Seidl added to Sky Sports F1: “There are two reasons why we wanted to have Oscar.

“I think he has shown in the junior categories that he is something very special and has a lot of potential. Also, in terms of personality, I think he fits perfectly into our team. and that should be the main focus of the news.

“As far as the Contract Recognition Council goes, for us it’s never been a case, so I guess it’s best you ask the other party involved why they think they have a case.

“Therefore, this [decision] is not really a surprise to us. It’s important now that we can look to the future, and at the same time focus on the last eight races of the season with Daniel and Lando.”

The story of a remarkable transfer saga

While F1’s ‘silly season’ is known for its contract bombs, no one would have imagined that what started with Sebastian Vettel’s retirement and Fernando Alonso’s move to take his Aston-Martin seat, would turn into two teams fighting for a young rising star: Oscar Piastri.

With a vacancy due to Alonso’s departure, Alpine took the opportunity to announce their young driver, Piastri, as their replacement. Piastri, however, insisted his future in the sport belonged to another team and not the one that funded his title-laden junior career and progression to become an F1 reserve driver.

“I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine F1 issued a press release late this afternoon stating that I will be driving for them next year,” Piastri said on social media.

“It’s wrong and I haven’t signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I won’t be driving for Alpine next year.”

Such confidence in Piastri’s message made it clear the young Australian had a deal elsewhere, and it didn’t take long for it to become clear that that team was McLaren.

A contract battle was then underway between Alpine, who had insisted all along that they had the rights to their reserve for next year following a contract he signed last November, and McLaren and Piastri. , whose camp was sure that an Alpine clause had expired and that he could move the teams.

McLaren have made their stance on Piastri clear on Daniel Ricciardo’s 2022 contract termination, well and truly opening the door for their next young driver to partner Lando Norris.

The CRB verdict, which came a day later than expected, ends the dispute and leaves Alpine in search of a 2023 driver.

Alpine wants Pierre Gasly to fill his empty seat for the 2023 season alongside Esteban Ocon.

Sky Sports News understands that if Alpine is willing to pay a fee, then Gasly would be allowed to leave AlphaTauri and the Red Bull family.



Oscar Piastri to drive for McLaren in 2023 as Alpine loses Formula 1 contract battle

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