Otmar Szafnauer reveals if Alpine will take Oscar Piastri and McLaren to court

Oscar Piastri has reportedly signed a deal with the McLaren F1 Team.

The summer break is for most a time to relax and digest the first half of the season; however, for the Alpine F1 Team that certainly isn’t the case.

It’s turning into the worst summer break that the French team could’ve hoped for, with a trip to the High Court looking all but certain.

The trip to court is regarding their reserve driver Oscar Piastri, who is refusing to drive for them next season.

Following Fernando Alonso’s announcement that he would be leaving Alpine at the end of the season to join the Aston Martin F1 Team, Alpine made their own statement over who would replace the Spaniard.

READ: Ex-Ferrari sporting director says Mattia Binotto wasn’t meant to be team principal

The Enstone-based team announced that 2021 F2 World Champion Piastri would be promoted for 2023, to race alongside Esteban Ocon.

However, whilst Piastri was receiving messages of congratulations on social media, he quickly released his own statement.

Piastri informed the world that he hadn’t agreed to race for Alpine and won’t be doing so either.

The statement read: “I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine F1 have put out a press release late this afternoon that I am driving for them next year. This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year.”

Article continues below

It is believed that Piastri has reached an agreement with the McLaren F1 Team for next season, with the Australian set to replace fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo, after Piastri’s manager ex-F1 driver Mark Webber held positive talks with McLaren boss Andreas Seidl.

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer is furious, with the French side certain that Piastri is contracted to drive for them next season.

Alpine are already planning a trip to the High Court, where they are set to demand compensation from Piastri.

“Going to the High Court is over 90 per cent certain that’s what we’ll do,” Szafnauer said after telling Reuters their Paris base was “prepared for a legal battle”.

He continued: “If the CRB [Formula One’s Contract Recognition Board] says ‘your licence is only valid at Alpine’, and then he [Piastri] says ‘that’s great but I’m never driving for them, I’ll just sit out a year’, then you’ve got to go to the High Court for compensation.”

Should Piastri refuse to drive for Alpine, then the French side are wanting compensation for the millions that they’ve ploughed into the 21-year-old.

Piastri has driven 3,500km for Alpine during tests, with the main aim of the tests being to prepare him for 2023.

“We haven’t sat down with the accountants to figure out everything we’ve spent,” the Alpine boss said.

“We will have to do that if we go to the High Court.”

Should the seat remain available after their trip to court, then Alpine have already whittled a list of 14 drivers down to just four.

Two of the four on the list are known to be Piastri and Ricciardo, with the 33-year-old being the hot favourite to rejoin the Enstone-based team, formerly known as Renault.

“The Alpine seat is the most valuable one left,” Szafnauer told El Confidencial.

“We are fourth in the World Championship, Ocon is a good teammate, a good competitor, we have plans to be better than fourth place. 

READ: Lewis Hamilton makes shocking confession

“We have our own power unit, our facilities and we can interact between chassis and engine development to make the car faster.

“We have a great technical team, 850 people, and we are going to improve further.

“No wonder so many people call me, but of those fourteen, there will be four left on the final list. And among them is Piastri.”