“The breach of trust” led to the exit of Alpine – Piastri

Piastri piloted the Alpine A521 in a young driver test at Yas Marina Circuit in December 2021

Australian Oscar Piastri says a “break in trust” with Alpine led to his decision to reject them and join McLaren on his debut next season.

McLaren won a dispute over Piastri with Alpine on Friday, after the F1 Contract Recognition Board (CRB) decided they had a valid contract with the 21-year-old.

“McLaren was a great opportunity. They were very direct and very keen to get me,” Piastri said.

“There was a lack of clarity around my future in the Alpine team.”

Piastri’s comments echoed those of Fernando Alonso, Alpine’s racing driver this year, who also described a lack of “trust” on the part of the team when explaining his decision to join Aston Martin in 2023.

The two-time champion previously said his “priority” was to stay with Alpine. But they were only offering a one-year contract when he wanted a longer-term contract, and the negotiations reached an impasse.

After being surprised by Alonso’s announcement of his move to Aston, the day after the Hungarian Grand Prix in early August, Alpine management took a series of seemingly misguided actions in a futile attempt to retain Piastri. , their reserve driver and reigning Formula 2 champion.

Their team principal, Otmar Szafnauer, held a press conference in which he claimed the team were confident in their contractual position with Piastri, then later that day released a statement announcing that he would drive for them next season.

Shortly after, Piastri announced on Twitter that it wasn’t, and that he wouldn’t be.

Piastri, who was talk to the Formula 1 website,external link said his manager Mark Webber had twice informed Alpine that he would be leaving, adding that the team’s actions were “quite upsetting as the announcement was false and it also deprived me of the opportunity to tell the goodbye to everyone in Enstone [Alpine’s UK base in Oxfordshire].”

The CRB ruled that Alpine did not have a valid contract with Piastri for 2023 and beyond.

The case cost Alpine a total of almost £540,000 in legal fees, including the obligation to pay McLaren’s costs.

Piastri said:[Alpine] publicly stated that they wanted to continue with Fernando for at least one or two more years. I respect that.

“But having been through the year, my hopes were firmly fixed on an Alpine seat. And the lack of clarity and, like Fernando, a bit of an odd feeling in the negotiations, I didn’t feel like it was the right decision for me [to stay around].

“The lack of clarity around my future, and ultimately a breakdown in trust, I felt the very attractive offer from McLaren and the positive relationship with them so far were all reasons why I thought McLaren were there. where I was best for the future.”

The CRB revealed Piastri signed for McLaren on July 4. The team then negotiated a release with Daniel Ricciardo, terminate his contract a year earlier, to make way for Piastri.

Szafnauer twice described a conversation with Piastri before Alpine released its announcement, saying he went to the driver in the Enstone simulator to tell him they were going to announce he would join them in 2023. Piastri, Szafnauer said, smiled and thanked him.

Piastri said: “It was a bizarre and frankly upsetting episode. It was done publicly in front of some team members 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 many times before. It was very surprising for me to make this announcement.”

Szafnauer did not mention the second part of the conversation detailed by Piastri.

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl added: “Alpine were briefed well in advance of the announcement they made regarding Oscar driving for them next year. Briefed by Oscar, including Zak’s conversations [Brown, the McLaren Racing chief executive officer] and I had with Alpine management about what was going on.”

Esteban Ocon, Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri
Piastri is Alpine’s reserve driver in 2022 and appeared alongside regular drivers Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso at the launch of their new car in February.

Alpine has yet to explain why they pursued the deal with the CRB despite lacking a valid contract and after being told by Piastri and McLaren that the driver was leaving.

Szafanuer said: “The right thing to do is to take a look at what happened, understand where the shortcomings were and fix them for the future.”

Seidl said: “The reason why I wanted to take Oscar on board is because he has shown in his junior career that he is a very talented driver with a lot of potential. I also think that in terms of personality he has everything. what he needs to succeed in Formula 1.

“He is young, fresh, full of energy. I think he also has the right level of self-confidence. But at the same time he is very humble and he is fully aware of the big challenge ahead of him.

“It’s complex for any rookie to join Formula 1. But I feel that with the team we have in place, with everything Oscar has, we are in a very good position. position to prepare him well before he starts his first race next time.” year in Bahrain.

“I’m quite optimistic that he can first get off to a good start with us and then have a great career.”

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“The breach of trust” led to the exit of Alpine – Piastri

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