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Oscar Piastri

Szafnauer rubbishes suggestions Alpine showed lack of loyalty to Piastri

The Alpine boss defended the manner in which the team conducted contract negotiations with Oscar Piastri.

Oscar Piastri
To news overview © XPB

Otmar Szafnauer has denied claims his Alpine Formula 1 squad showed a lack of loyalty to Oscar Piastri in the recent contract saga.

Alpine had hoped to promote Piastri to a race seat in 2023, but he publicly rejected this on social media in August.

The FIA's Contract Recognition Board ruled on the Friday of the Dutch GP weekend that McLaren had a legally binding contract for the Australian's services from next season.

As RacingNews365.com exclusively revealed yesterday, Alpine did not in fact have an F1 race seat deal signed with Piastri, believing a 'Terms Sheet' from November 2021 constituted a legal contract.

The CRB rejected this, releasing Piastri into McLaren's care from January 1st 2023.

Throughout the process, Alpine had also pointed to a moral argument as to why Piastri should stay with the team, given the resource they have poured into his development.

Alpine Team Principal Szafnauer believes this demonstrated the team's loyalty to the 2021 Formula 2 champion.

Alpine did everything it needed

After failing to find him a race seat for 2022, Piastri was placed on an extensive testing programme with Alpine in '21-spec machinery.

It's this programme Szafnauer feels shows Alpine "delivered everything above and beyond" what was expected of it - encased within a non-legally binding document entitled 'Heads of Terms' - first drawn up in November 2021.

"We delivered everything above and beyond what we said we're going to do," observed Szafnauer to media, including RacingNews365.com.

"[This was] including 3500 kilometres [testing] in last year's car and making him our reserve driver.

"When McLaren and Mercedes asked if we could share him as a reserve driver because they didn't have one, we allowed him to do that.

"We paid him. That's our loyalty to Oscar."

Fault still on Piastri's side - Alpine

RacingNews365.com reported in its exclusive story on the CRB ruling that Alpine had drafted a "roadmap" for Piastri in F1, that began with a loan to Williams for 2023 and potentially '24.

A break clause on Alpine's side to recall him for the latter was in place, needing to be triggered by July 31st, 2023.

However, there was a chance that Piastri could have to wait until 2025 before making his full-time race debut with the Alpine squad - something he and manager Mark Webber found intolerable, hence the decision to speak with McLaren.

"The Germans have a really nice saying: 'if you're on the high seas or in front of a judge, you're in God's hands', meaning you really can't predict the outcome," mused Szafnauer.

"I said at the time, even if there is a loophole or something that goes against us, we performed on a contract we thought we had [and went] above and beyond.

"The one thing we asked of Oscar in that contract is to be a driver for Alpine or to be placed elsewhere for '23 and '24, and that he didn't do."

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RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth discuss the key topics from the Belgium Grand Prix.

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