While the summer break is supposed to provide the teams and drivers with time to relax and recharge their batteries, this was certainly not the case for Oscar Piastri last season.
The 21-year-old sensationally took to Twitter to reject Alpine’s claims that he would be racing for them in 2023, eventually revealing that he had signed a contract behind closed doors with McLaren.
Alpine’s plan was to replace the departing Fernando Alonso with Piastri but after the Contract Recognition Board decided that the Australian was free to join McLaren, the team were forced to look elsewhere, eventually settling on Pierre Gasly.
Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi has fired another dig at his former academy driver, claiming that his lack of loyalty will stick with him no matter how successful he becomes.
“He grew up in this team. He knows everyone in our team,” said Rossi. “We’ve shown our commitment to him. Shouldn’t he be a bit grateful for that?
“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.”
It was a loophole in the 21-year-old’s contract with Alpine that allowed him to reject a race seat and sign for McLaren, leaving the French team humiliated by their own contract.
Team principal Otmar Szafnauer has now explained that despite Piasti’s departure being a bitter pill to swallow, his team have learned from the saga and will do things differently in the future.
“In the future, we will treasure these lessons and make sure that we eliminate the loopholes that allowed Oscar to get out of the contract we thought we had with him,” he said.
“What happened in the summer was not what we had planned in December 2021.
“We can say that we should have done things differently so that the plan to promote Oscar would actually have been realised.”
It has been suggested that Piastri’s move to McLaren is a blessing in disguise for Alpine, as their signing of Pierre Gasly has been praised as one of the best moves in the paddock.
The Frenchman initially looked like an unattainable target but not wishing to stand in the way of their loyal driver’s dreams, Red Bull allowed the AlphaTauri driver to leave the system for a reasonable fee.