Zak Brown hails Oscar Piastri for dealing with Alpine threats

After a legal battle with Alpine, the Contract Recognition Board cleared Oscar Piastri to race for McLaren in 2023.

Having come through the Alpine driver academy and being the 2021 Formula 2 champion, it looked as if the French team had the perfect replacement for the ageing Fernando Alonso waiting in the wings.

The team’s initial plan was to loan Piastri to Williams to gain experience until Alonso’s contract expired, however when the Spaniard announced over the summer break that he would be joining Aston Martin in 2023, Alpine were forced to accelerate their plans.

Alonso’s announcement of his move to Aston Martin was quickly met by an Alpine post claiming that the 41-year-old would be replaced by the exciting Oscar Piastri, but stunningly the Australian took to social media to reject this claim.

As it turns out, the 21-year-old had already signed a contract to replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren in secret, despite being under contract at Alpine.

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A war of words combined with a hearing with the Contract Recognition Board ended with Piastri being cleared to race for McLaren, as his Alpine contract did not force him to accept a race seat with the team.

In recent weeks Piastri has been called selfish by Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer in the lastest barrage of accusations thrown the way of the Australian and his new boss Zak Brown has jumped to the defence of his driver.

The McLaren Racing CEO has praised his driver for not getting involved in the insults match started by his former employers, claiming that he shows maturity beyond his years.

“He is a 21-year-old and here you have a big OEM who is making accusations and taking you to court,” Brown told Speedcafe.

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“You have to be a tough character as a 21-year-old to be unfazed by that. He was, he kept his head down and I think he is going to let his driving do the talking.

“He didn’t get into a war of words, even though Otmar said some very unpleasant and inaccurate statements – Oscar didn’t rise to that.

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“What I see is a very focused, mature, determined 21-year-old. That is what I see out of the car.”

McLaren’s driver lineup of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris might be one of the most exiting on the grid this year, as both drivers have the potential to be stars of the sport.

Brown has claimed that his team do not expect their new driver to challenge Norris straight away, however they do expect the Australian to be able to match his teammate in the future, a feat that even Daniel Ricciardo was unable to achieve.