Heads roll at Alpine over Oscar Piastri fiasco

Oscar Piastri will drive for McLaren next year, after taking legal action against Alpine.

Oscar Piastri was a big part of Alpine’s plan for the future, as the young Australian had been tipped as a future star for the French outfit.

Alpine originally planned to send Piastri on loan to Williams for 2023, before bringing him back to replace Fernando Alonso when his contract expires before the 2024 season.

Alonso’s shock move to Aston Martin forced Alpine to skip the Williams loan and promote Piastri to a 2023 race seat alongside Esteban Ocon, but when they announced the news the last thing that the team would have been expecting was for Piastri himself to reject the promotion.

As it turns out, the Australian had already signed a contract for 2023 with McLaren to replace Daniel Ricciardo, claiming that his Alpine contract did not force him to drive for the team next season.

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After a drawn out saga, the Contract Recognition Board came to a unanimous decision that Piastri and McLaren were correct, and that the 21-year-old had never actually signed a legally binding Reserve Driver contract with Alpine.

Benedicte Mercer, the Alpine lawyer in charge of drawing up Piastri’s contract with team has now been relieved of her duties ahead of the 2023 season.

Mercer was the Director of Legal Affairs at Alpine, which means that she was in charge of ensuring that all documents and contracts involved with Piastri had been signed and submitted to the appropriate parties, a task in which she was evidently unsuccessful.

When looking at Companies House, the records show that Mercer left Alpine on the 8th of November, prior to the final two Grand Prix of the season.

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Despite the team’s failure to tie down Piastri for 2023 and beyond, they were very successful in their negotiations for a replacement, securing the services of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.

It is believed that the Red Bull hierarchy were not keen to see Gasly depart the Red Bull system, however after the Frenchman made it clear that he would like to join Alpine for 2023, they did not stand in his way and negotiated a fair price with the team.

The French team will now have an all French line up as they look to grow their brand and challenge further up the grid than in 2022.