Alpine CEO claims he would’ve allowed Oscar Piastri to join McLaren on this condition

Oscar Piastri sensationally rejected Alpine last season in favour of a move to McLaren.

Midway through last season, the F1 paddock was sent into overdrive by Sebastian Vettel’s retirement announcement.

Despite being on the verge of agreeing a contract extension with Alpine, Fernando Alonso decided to jump ship and move to Aston Martin to replace Vettel, leaving Alpine with an empty seat for 2023.

The team swiftly announced that their academy driver Oscar Piastri would make the step up to partner Esteban Ocon in 2023, but Alpine certainly did not expect what happened next.

Piastri took to social media to sensationally reject a race seat at Alpine, claiming that he was not obligated to race for the team despite his academy contract.

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A hearing with the Contract Recognition Board ended in Piastri’s favour, with the Australian rookie being allowed to sign for McLaren to replace the underperforming Daniel Ricciardo.

Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi has admitted that his team were caught off guard by Piastri’s departure, wishing that the 21-year-old made the move in a more structured manner.

“Look, I wouldn’t call drivers disloyal to be honest,” he told the Beyond the Grid podcast.

“They also have their own careers to manage, and God knows it’s a difficult one because there’s really few of them. And it’s ferocious, as you said. And they don’t have an easy one, right?

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“If they have a bad year, they just get the boot, and it’s tough. So I think they also need to manage their own interests.

“Now, there’s probably a way to do it.

“I would have not necessarily prevented Oscar from leaving should he have come to us with something a bit more structured, let’s say, ‘hey guys, I’m also having this offer, what do we do, can we talk?

“It just caught us by surprise. I get it also caught Ricciardo by surprise, which says a lot right?

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“That might be a little candid. And we don’t want to be candid anymore. It’s okay, it’s over now. We learn the lessons for ourselves. The rest is just one person. I actually wish him well and that’s about it.”

Piastri’s F1 debut with McLaren did not go at all to plan, at the Australian qualified in P18 and was forced to retire after 13 laps with a technical issue.

The 21-year-old has been tipped as a future star of F1 so only time will tell whether Alpine will regret losing their former academy driver to their rivals.