Alpine fire jibe at Oscar Piastri in retaliation to public snub

Oscar Piastri was originally who Alpine had planned to replace Fernando Alonso in 2023.

With the 2022 season complete, all eyes have already turned to 2023, with the post-season test at Abu Dhabi having seen moving drivers with their new sides.

Two of the drivers who have moved team for 2023 are Fernando Alonso, who’s gone from Alpine to Aston Martin, and Oscar Piastri.

Piastri is a controversial one and someone that Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer appears to still have an issue with, following yet another dig at the young Australian.

Piastri is, of course, moving from Alpine to McLaren, having been the French team’s reserve driver in 2022.

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The Aussie famously rejected the chance to drive full-time for Alpine in 2023 following the announcement of Alonso’s departure, with the Enstone-based side having announced Piastri before actually asking him.

His shocking Alpine rejection resulted in Szafnauer being furious, especially after it was revealed that he’d signed a deal with McLaren.

Szafnauer was certain that Piastri was contracted to race for Alpine; however, the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board determined otherwise.

With Piastri having gone to McLaren, Alpine decided to sign Pierre Gasly, making an all-French line-up with Esteban Ocon.

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Alpine’s team principal believes the team’s line-up for 2023 is even better than if Piastri had remained, resulting in Szafnauer being “happy” with the team’s squad.

“I am happy because our lineup with Esteban and Pierre (Gasly) is better than it would have been if we had won that (Piastri) case,” Szafnauer told AS newspaper.

Whilst there is no doubting that Ocon and Gasly is a strong combination, is it better than Ocon and Alonso?

Szafnauer was asked that very thing, with the Romanian-American admitting he’ll answer the question “next year”.

“Good question,” Szafnauer answered.

“This year we have had a great driver lineup, Fernando has done a fabulous job and he is still super-fast.

“I’m happy with my lineup but ask me next year and I’ll answer.”

Alonso’s time at Alpine clearly needed to end, with the Spaniard having become frustrated with the team and his team-mate.

The pair’s collision at Interlagos didn’t help, with the double World Champion having publicly announced that he couldn’t wait to leave Enstone.

However, prior to the season finale, Alonso said during an on-stage interview that he was sad to leave, something Ocon called him out on.

“Lie!” Ocon joked.

“He said he’s happy to go!”

“Ok, I’m happy to go,” replied Alonso.

“At the same time I will be sad. Hopefully next year I go to a more competitive car.”

Szafnauer discussed Alonso’s two-year spell at Alpine and his “breakdowns” with his team-mate, something he revealed he wasn’t “happy about”.

Alonso faced arguably the worst luck ever seen in an F1 season in 2022, with the 41-year-old having endured an issue at almost every race.

Despite this, Szafnauer doesn’t think better luck for the Spanish driver would’ve changed the team’s position in the Constructors’ Championship, with fourth having been the best they could’ve achieved.

“Yes, of course he had more breakdowns than Esteban. We know that, and always when he could score good points. I’m not happy about it either,” he said.

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“But if we hadn’t had any problem with Fernando, we still would have been fourth in the constructors’ championship. It was our objective and we achieved it.

“Fourth was the best we could do this year so the decision to go for engine performance at the cost of reliability was the right one.

“It’s a good base for next year because the car changes slightly – it will be basically the same with a significant change in the floor,” Szafnauer added.