Zak Brown on Oscar Piastri legal battle: ‘We kept our mouths shut deliberately’

Oscar Piastri will line up alongside Lando Norris at McLaren in 2023.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has spoken out about winning the Oscar Piastri saga, for the first time since the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board concluded that the Australian was legally allowed to race for the Woking-based team next season.

Piastri is, of course, Alpine’s reserve driver and has been a profound part of their driver academy.

Following Fernando Alonso’s announcement after the Hungarian Grand Prix that he’d be leaving Alpine and joining Aston Martin, the Enstone-based team released a statement of their own announcing Piastri as his replacement.

Whilst Piastri was being congratulated on social media, the 21-year-old quickly turned the situation incredibly ugly by releasing his own jaw-dropping statement.

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The Aussie announced that he hadn’t agreed to race for Alpine in 2023 and wouldn’t be doing so either.

It soon came to light that he’d signed a contract with McLaren to replace Daniel Ricciardo; however, Alpine insisted that Piastri was contracted to race alongside Esteban Ocon next season.

The legal battle ultimately went to the FIA’s CRB, where it was decided that Piastri wasn’t legally bound to Alpine and was free to join McLaren.

Interestingly, prior to the meeting McLaren remained somewhat quiet on the entire matter, whereas Alpine were fairly vocal with regard to their confidence in winning the case.

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Alpine not only lost, but comically were forced into paying McLaren compensation for the time spent in the meeting.

Brown has since spoken on the entire saga, revealing why his side opted to remain quiet prior to the CRB meeting.

“I think before people saw the CRB ruling, they didn’t know what they didn’t know, and we kept our mouths shut deliberately,” he told NBC Sports.

“Now that ruling has come out in good detail, it’s clear what happened there.

“We recognised there was a lot of noise, but we knew the truth would come out eventually, and we just need to kind of ride it out as opposed to giving a running commentary. So at the time, not oblivious to the noise and some of the direct message notes that I got from fans.

“It was very noisy, but we really haven’t commented on anything. I think it was better just to let things play out and give a little bit of colour afterward.

“I think if you look at all of the comments by Otmar, he was giving a little play by play of the CRB and how confident they were, and now I think he looks a little silly. I think that’s why it’s best to keep your mouth shut, and we can talk about it after the fact when there’s something concrete to say.”

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Alpine have since accepted their defeat; however, Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi remains adamant that Piastri “never told” the French team about his McLaren contract.

“We never knew for a fact he had signed [for McLaren],” revealed Rossi.

“He never told us.”