Alpine F1 boss Otmar Szafnauer believes Oscar Piastri could have shown more loyalty to a team that invested hefty sums into his career. The team principal for the French outfit also explained the ongoings and the scenario with the Australian rookie’s contract.
Speaking to El Confidencial, the Alpine head honcho said:
“I expected more loyalty from Piastri. He should have it with that 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. I expected more loyalty from Oscar than he is showing. 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.”
Startled by the situation, Otmar Szafnauer claimed it to be the first time in his F1 career that he has witnessed a complicating scenario like the one with Oscar Piastri. The Alpine team principal claims the French manufacturer has invested millions into the Australian F2 champion and deserves loyalty in return. Suggesting that approximately 14 drivers were inquiring about the seat at Alpine, Szafnauer believes the Australian will ultimately agree to race with his team as the negotiations continue over the summer break.
In his thoughts about the whole scenario involving their reserve driver, Szafnauer said:
“I think it’s a question for Piastri, because I don’t understand it. In our future, in that hundred-race plan we are all working on, I think there is also room for Piastri. And we have supported him. 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. If Piastri is not in the car – which I think he is going to be – because Fernando is out, I have about 14 phone calls from drivers who are interested, because the Alpine seat is the most valuable seat left.”
Alpine hint at legal implications in Oscar Piastri saga
With Fernando Alonso’s departure from Alpine at the end of the 2022 season, Otmar Szafnauer claims Oscar Piastri is under contract with the team to race for the 2023 season.
The Alpine team principal revealed that they would have loaned him to another team had Alonso stayed but were guaranteed to have him in their car for 2024. Hence, he felt that Alpine were legally correct to announce the Australian as a driver for next season, as they were in discussions with him while releasing the press statement. The shocking response from the Australian, however, to declining the opportunity has now put the team in a fix.
Explaining Oscar Piastri’s contract, Szafnauer said:
“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. There is also an option for 2024 and the possibility for us to ‘loan’ the driver to another team. We wanted Fernando with us for one more year and then a ‘loan’ of Oscar for 2023.”
Suggesting that they are entitled to Oscar Piastri for compensation, the Alpine team principal hinted towards legal implications, saying:
“We have to take into account that last year we put him in a single-seater and he did 3,500 kilometres. We have done seven independent tests with him and this is not cheap at all. The cost of an engine alone is 1,750,000 euros. The mechanics, the team that managed those tests, the flights, and travel. We have spent lots and lots of money on Piastri to prepare him for the future. And, if that future is not with us, it is logical and fair that we seek compensation.”
According to Szafnauer, the amount of money invested in Oscar Piastri allows them to seek compensation from the driver legally. There have been reports of the Australian signing a contract with McLaren simultaneously followed by speculation of a legal suit between the Australian and Alpine in the UK post-summer break.