McLaren boss claims Oscar Piastri didn’t swoop down to Otmar Szafnauer’s level

Oscar Piastri will race for McLaren in 2023 after rejecting a race seat at Alpine where he was part of their driver academy.

Formula 1 drivers’ silly season was as hectic and unpredictable as ever this season, with the first domino to fall being Sebastian Vettel, who has retired from the sport.

Fernando Alonso surprisingly announced that he would be leaving high-flying Alpine to replace the German at Aston Martin, leaving the French team with an unexpected hole in their driver lineup to fill.

The team initially announced that 2021 F2 champion Oscar Piastri would race for the team next season, skipping out the initially planned loan at Williams to fill the void left by Alonso.

The Australian sensationally rejected the team’s announcement, having signed a contract behind closed doors with McLaren to replace the underperforming Daniel Ricciardo.

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A hearing from the Contract Recognition Board concluded with Piastri being allowed to drive for McLaren despite having a young driver contract with Alpine, much to the annoyance of the French team who have now signed Pierre Gasly from AlphaTauri.

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has since claimed that Piastri lacks integrity and suggested that selfish individuals will not succeed in F1 in a sly rant against his former junior driver.

McLaren CEO Zak Brown now leaped to his new driver’s defence, praising the 21-year-old for ignoring all the controversy surrounding his transfer.

“I saw a lot of that through the turmoil over the summer, you know, he’s a 21-year-old and here you have a big OEM, was making accusations and taking you to court, and then you have to be a pretty tough character as a 21-year-old to be unfazed by that, and he was, and he kept his head down, and I think he’s going ot let his driving do the talking,” explained Brown.

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“He didn’t get into a war of words, even though Otmar said some very unpleasant and inaccurate statements. You know, Oscar didn’t rise to that. So what I see is a very focused, determined, mature 21-year-old. 

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“That’s what I see out of the car, and in the car, we see the same thing and we see that he’s very fast.”

Piastri will have face the daunting task of trying to match McLaren star Lando Norris in 2023, a task which is clearly not easy as eight-time race winner Daniel Ricciardo fell some way short during his two seasons with the team.

McLaren will be hoping for better fortunes next season after dropping behind Alpine last season in the constructors’ championship and only securing a single podium.