Alpine F1 team principal Otmar Szafnauer is ‘confident’ that next week’s meeting with the FIA’s contract recognition board will come to the decision that Oscar Piastri is contractually bound to race for Alpine next season, rather than the McLaren F1 Team.
The FIA’s contract recognition board will ultimately decide if Alpine’s reserve driver will race for Alpine or McLaren next season, after the Australian driver supposedly signed a deal with the Woking-based team to replace Daniel Ricciardo.
Alpine had announced that Piastri would be replacing Fernando Alonso at the team in 2023, after the Spaniard announced that he’d be joining the Aston Martin F1 Team next season.
Congratulation messages quickly filled up on social media for Piastri; however, the 2021 F2 World Champion soon made the entire situation unbelievably ugly.
Not long after Alpine announced that they’d be promoting the 21-year-old, Piastri released his own statement that shocked the F1 community.
Piastri revealed that he hadn’t agreed to race for Alpine and wouldn’t be doing so either.
His statement read: “I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine F1 have put out a press release late this afternoon that I am driving for them next year,” said Piastri.
“This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year.”
This left Alpine furious, in particular Szafnauer, who questioned the young driver’s “integrity”.
It’s incredible to believe that despite it all, Piastri may still drive for Alpine next year, with Szafnauer very “confident” that Piastri’s contract with Alpine forces him to remain with the team.
“Very. I have seen both sides of the argument and we are confident that Oscar signed with us back in November and there are certain things that need to be in the contract and I’m confident they’re in there,” he told the Formula 1 website.
A rumour that has been going around is that Piastri was allowed to talk to other teams should Alpine not have announced him as part of their line-up by the 31st July, something the Romanian-American deems as totally “fictitious”.
“I rarely like to talk about details of driver contracts but two things I can say: one, there was no ‘by the 31st of July you have to do some things or therefore you can get on’ – there’s none of that,” he continued.
“That 31st of July deadline that I read all the time is fictitious, it’s not in the contract that he signed. And the term of the contract, it is through 2024 with an option at the end of 23. So I’ll just say those things, but there’s a lot more in there. Like I said, I don’t really like to talk about specifics.”
Piastri’s integrity and maturity have been questioned by Alpine, who have spent millions preparing the Aussie for life as an Alpine F1 driver.
Szafnauer wishes Piastri had more respect for the team and the contract he signed with them.
“My wish for Oscar was that he had a bit more integrity as well,” he said.
“He signed a piece of paper as well back in November and we’ve done everything on our end to prepare him for F1.”