Oscar Piastri’s manager insists Alpine were ‘crystal clear’ on his departure

Oscar Piastri snubbed Alpine and will instead partner Lando Norris at McLaren in his debut season in Formula 1 in 2023.

Former Formula 1 driver and manager of Oscar Piastri, Mark Webber, has affirmed that Alpine knew of the 21-year-old’s decision to leave before they announced his promotion.

Piastri won the Formula 3 title as part of the Renault junior programme, and his Formula 2 success a year later took place while under the Alpine umbrella.

There was nowhere for the Australian to go this season, so Otmar Szafnauer made him the team’s test and reserve driver for 2022, and he has been working in the simulator and standing by on race weekends.

One or two practice sessions were also likely on the horizon due to the regulation that rules that all teams are to use a junior driver in at least two sessions.

READ: ‘Really ballooned’: Mark Webber accuses Alpine of dishonesty in Oscar Piastri saga

However, things changed when Alpine started giving Piastri confusing information as to his future.

Szafnauer only wanted to give Fernando Alonso a one-plus-one deal, meaning that it was possible that he might have been swapped out for the junior driver in 2024, so he was unhappy.

Piastri was told that he might get a seat in 2024 after a loan spell was sorted for him in 2023, but it was also possible that he might not get an Alpine seat until 2025 if Alonso signed again.

But Alpine still planned on keeping him in their ranks even if he did not have a seat for the next two years, so this made the youngster unhappy too, and both he and Alonso made alternative arrangements.

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Alonso has signed with Aston Martin to replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel, while Piastri knocked on Zak Brown’s door and signed a contract to replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren next year.

Alonso’s news was discovered by Szafnauer the same way as it was by the rest of us – via Aston Martin’s press release after the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Piastri, meanwhile, told Szafnauer of his move when he signed his McLaren contract signed on 4 July, but the Romanian-American announced Piastri’s promotion to the rest of the team members anyway.

They did not know any different, so, to avoid causing “a scene,” Piastri stayed quiet until his promotion was announced by Alpine. 

The reserve driver then took to social media to confirm that this was false, and the contract recognition board (CRB) has since found that his contract with McLaren is final.

Therefore, no compensation is owed to the French side by the Woking-based team for the money they claim they put into Piastri’s career.

Webber believes that Alpine “ballooned” the sum they put into his driver “out of proportion,” and that they had funded around 20 percent of the F2 champion’s career.

As for Piastri’s role with Alpine now, Webber will have to sit down with them and smooth that out, but he insists that they knew about Piastri’s McLaren deal before they announced him alongside Esteban Ocon.

“Next week there will be a discussion to be had, now that’s all out there,” the former Red Bull driver told Channel 4. 

“Obviously, the current has been underneath for a while that something was happening, but they knew that, absolutely crystal clear they knew that.

READ: ‘His hand was forced’: Oscar Piastri’s manager slams Alpine as he breaks silence

 “So now we are at a point where we will have a chat, he has been working hard for this team, doing long hours. 

“He has tried to contribute as much to Alpine as much as he can in terms of performance and doing as much as he can to help in the sim.”

Alpine are now on the hunt for a replacement for Alonso, and they are thought to be close to capturing Pierre Gasly from AlphaTauri, provided they can buy him out of his contract.