Alpine boss hits out at Oscar Piastri’s ‘inexcusable behaviour’

Oscar Piastri will race for McLaren in 2023 following a controversial departure from Alpine.

Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi has released an onslaught of anger towards current reserve driver Oscar Piastri, who will be leaving the team at the end of the season to replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren.

The Frenchman’s comments regarding the Australian are as a result of the 21-year-old rejecting the chance to race for Alpine next season, somewhat embarrassingly for the Enstone-based team.

After Alonso announced he’d be joining Aston Martin, the French side released a statement that Piastri would be promoted from his role as the team’s reserve driver and would line-up alongside Esteban Ocon in 2023.

However, Piastri quickly released his own statement informing the world that he hadn’t agreed to race for Alpine and won’t be doing so either.

READ: Christian Horner explains why he was shocked by Red Bull’s 2022 car

This left Alpine furious, but it wasn’t too long before their anger grew after it was reported that Piastri had secretly signed a deal with McLaren to replace Ricciardo next season.

After believing the 2021 F2 World Champion was contracted to race for them, the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board looked at the case, before concluding that Piastri was legally allowed to sign for the Woking-based team due to not having a binding contract with Alpine for 2023.

The saga then took a further twist, after Alpine revealed that Piastri hadn’t signed contracts from the French side for 2023, despite being given them.

The fourth-placed side are now not only searching for a driver to replace Alonso but are also considering taking legal action against the Aussie, who they insist owes them millions in compensation for the money spent shaping the Australian as a future Alpine F1 driver.

Article continues below

“He would have driven for us after Alonso left,” Rossi told Auto Motor und Sport.

“McLaren and us are about the same strength. But we are a factory team. That’s a competitive advantage. 

“He grew up in this team. He knows everyone with us. We’ve shown our commitment to him – shouldn’t he be a little grateful? 

“Oscar would do well to be fast and deliver results next year. But even if he becomes the new Michael Schumacher, this story will stick with him forever. 

“There is no excuse for Oscar’s behaviour. He has chopped off the hand that fed him and played with us because any draft contracts were not submitted on time. 

“If he says he didn’t feel full affection from us, then I wonder why we offered him all the opportunities to become as complete a Formula 1 driver as possible? 

“These were not empty words, but actions. If he claims that the contract situation was too obscure for him, then I say: He knew that we had the Williams contract in the bag. 

“There was nothing murky about it. He just used this excuse to look elsewhere.”

Alonso’s move to Aston Martin actually came as a shock to the team, who were deep into negotiations with the Spaniard about extending his deal.

Piastri was believed to be disappointed by the team prioritising Alonso over him, despite the side having reached a deal for Williams to field the McLaren-bound driver for 2023 and 2024.

Rossi is certain that Piastri believed he was better than Williams; however, the Alpine CEO still thinks a two-year stint at the backmarker side wouldn’t have done him “any harm”, with a number of the leading drivers today having started at a lower-midfield team.

“He was disappointed that we bet on Alonso and not on him straight away,” Rossi added.

“And he didn’t want to drive for Williams. 

“We told him he should be happy with what he’s getting. Fernando will definitely be racing at a much higher level than a rookie next year. 

READ: Breaking: Nyck de Vries taken off stand-by as Alex Albon cleared to race

“Maybe Oscar would have got there at some point, but certainly not right away. This applies to 95 per cent of all drivers in the field. 

“As for Williams, George Russell raced there for three years and it didn’t do him any harm. Has he ever complained? Now that he’s driving for Mercedes, it’s clear that this training couldn’t have been that bad. 

“After all, Russell immediately drives on par with Hamilton, a seven-time World Champion. Leclerc, Verstappen and Vettel also learned from a junior team beforehand.”