Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has given a scathing assessment of Oscar Piastri’s loyalty and integrity in the wake of the young Aussies apparent rejection of a race seat with the team next year.
Szafnauer, who has only been at the helm of the Alpine squad since the start of the year, said he had never been involved in a contract situation like this.
“I expected more loyalty from Oscar than he is showing,” he told Spanish publication El Confidencial.
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“I started in 1989 in Formula 1 and I’ve never seen anything like this. And it’s not about Formula 1, it’s about integrity as a human being.
“For me, the way I grew up, I don’t need to sign a piece of paper and then have someone say, ‘You’re lying, because you signed this.’ For me, if you say, ‘Hey, help me, I’ll help you tomorrow,’ there’s no way I would go back on my word. No way.
“He should (drive with the) team that has taken care of him, that has taken him to the world championship and, above all, that during the last year has put him in a Formula 1 car so that he would be ready, so that he would know the circuits,” he said.
Oscar Piastri during the Austrian Grand Prix weekend. (Getty)
“There should be some loyalty to the fact that we have invested literally millions and millions of euros to prepare him. So I don’t understand it either, you should ask him.”
Following the sudden departure of their star driver, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, Alpine moved quickly to announce Piastri as their driver for 2023, before the 21-year-old made his own statement on Twitter rejecting the announcement, saying he would not be driving for the Enstone team at all.
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Alpine has funded the bulk of Piastri’s junior career, which saw him win the F3 and F2 championships in successive years in 2020 and 2021.
The French squad claim they have a water-tight contract with Piastri for next season, however it is understood he will be driving for McLaren in the seat currently held by Daniel Ricciardo.
Otmar Szanfnauer at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Photo: Jakub Porzycki (NurPhoto via Getty Images)
“We have a contract with Piastri, which he signed in November, we have spoken to our lawyers and they have told us that this is a binding contract, so part of that contract allows us to put Oscar in one of our cars in 2023, which is the reason we issued the press release,” Szafnauer said.
Prior to July’s British Grand Prix, Piasti looked set to drive for Williams for the balance of 2022, before a full year with the team in 2023. It’s believed it was then that conversations between Team Piastri – led my manager Mark Webber – and McLaren began.
Daniel Ricciardo remains contracted to the team through to the end of 2023. He and McLaren have remained tight-lipped on the situation.
The traditional European summer break in August is often one of the busiest times of the F1 silly season.
The season will continue at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on August 28.
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