It is very rare in Formula 1 that a young driver rejects the opportunity to race for a team who so desperately want to acquire his services, especially when they are already contracted to the outfit.
This happened over the summer break in 2022, when Oscar Piastri took to social media to reject Alpine’s statement that claimed the 21-year-old would be promoted to a race seat next season to replace the Aston Martin bound Fernando Alonso.
A long and drawn-out saga with the Contract Recognition Board concluded that Piastri’s young driver contract with Alpine did not mean he was under any obligation to race for the team in 2023, allowing the Australian to sign for McLaren to replace Daniel Ricciardo.
Piastri has been a part of the Alpine Academy for a number of years, meaning hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars would have been invested into the future of the young driver, with the aim of making the Australian a future star with the team.
Team principal Otmar Szafnauer has now suggested that their investment in Piastri was a waste of Alpine’s money, even revealing that team CEO Laurent Rossi considered ending the team’s junior programme.
“At the time, you look at everything, and I think Laurent said that we’ve got to reconsider that if we spend this money and get drivers to a certain sport that they want to go elsewhere, should we really be doing this,” explained Szafnauer.
“That was something we looked at, but we’re definitely continuing to be committed to the young driver programme and to the Alpine Academy.”
The Alpine pathway for Piastri initially involved a loan to Williams in 2023, but the shock departure of Fernando Alonso fast-tracked the 21-year-old straight to the first team, an opportunity which he declined.
Szafnauer has recently called Piastri’s behaviour selfish, but has claimed that his team have ended up better off without the Australian, after the team managed to negotiate a price with Red Bull for Pierre Gasly’s release from AlphaTauri.