The Oscar Piastri-Alpine-McLaren saga finally ended earlier this month when Zak Brown, the McLaren CEO, held a press conference on the eve of the final IndyCar season race at Laguna Seca. In the interview, he answered all the questions surrounding the Piastri saga and his relationship with Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer.
Throughout the contractual fight, McLaren did not comment on anything, choosing to remain quiet. Brown explained the Woking-based outfit's silence by saying:
“I think before people saw the CRB ruling, they didn’t know what they didn’t know, and we kept our mouths shut deliberately. Now that ruling has come out in good detail, it’s clear what happened there. We recognized 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.”
The Oscar Piastri saga started on July 28, when Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement from the sport at the end of the 2022 season. In doing so, he set off a chain of events. Aston Martin now had to look for a driver to race its car the following season. The Silverstone-based outfit managed to contract Fernando Alonso from Alpine for the next season and on August 1, the Spaniard announced his team change to the world.
The very next day, on August 2, the French team posted that Oscar Piastri would be driving for them in the 2023 F1 season. Piastri was a member of the French team's academy program and won the F2 championship in 2021.
As soon as the news was announced, the Australian took to social media and denounced the team, saying he had not signed a contract with Alpine and was not going to race for them. The matter was taken to F1's Contracts Recognition Board, which ruled for Piastri and deemed that the only valid contract was the one he had with McLaren. The verdict read:
“The only contract to be recognised by the Board is the contract between McLaren Racing Limited and Mr. Piastri dated 4 July 2022. Mr. Piastri is entitled to drive for McLaren Racing Limited for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.”
The entire saga ended there and McLaren issued a press release announcing Piastri as a driver for the 2023 season. It was also revealed that the contract between the two parties had been signed on July 4.
Brown and his team rode out the noise without voicing any public opinion and this helped them immensely. Alpine's public perception turned negative with them talking publicly about Piastri. Alpine are now without a second driver for the 2023 F1 season and are actively looking to sign one.
Alpine looking for an experienced driver for the next season but is keeping options open
Alpine, having lost Oscar Piastri to McLaren, are now looking for a driver to replace the departing Fernando Alonso. They are trying to secure Pierre Gasly from Alpha Tauri but Red Bull wants Colin Herta as a replacement. The chances of that transpiring are decreasing every day, with the American getting a super license this quick already becoming doubtful.
The team is also looking at Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo, however, both have their ages going against them. The French team can also opt for Jack Doohan or Nyck de Vries, the latter of whom scored points on his F1 debut at the Italian GP last week.