Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer revealed that their contractual arrangements with Oscar Piastri were legit but were not approved by the Contracts Recognition Board. The American-Romanian team principal stated that the Australian was also paid by the French manufacturer as a reserve driver, which is evidence of their loyalty to the young driver.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the 2022 Dutch GP, Szafnauer said:
“Well, at that point, we’re having discussions with Oscar. And we were under the impression that the contractual arrangements we had with Oscar were valid. We didn't have the CRB yet, so that's a reason for it.”
The Alpine team boss revealed that their team’s arrangement with Piastri was valid but not approved by the CRB at that point. However, Szfanauer stated that the Australian was paid as a reserve driver and their loyalty towards him could not be questioned. He was allowed to share reserve driver duties with Mercedes and McLaren.
Stating the team’s loyalty towards Piastri, Szafnauer said:
“Our loyalty to Oscar was… we had something called the Heads of Terms and we delivered everything above and beyond what we said we're going to do, including 3500 km in last year's car, making him our reserve driver. When McLaren and Mercedes asked if we could share him as a reserve, because they didn't have one, we allowed him to do that. We paid him. That's our loyalty to Oscar.”
Alpine chief believes team image is defined by performance and not the silly season drama
Szafnauer believes Alpine’s team reputation remains unaffected after losing both Oscar Piastri and Fernando Alonso to rival teams in a dramatic manner. The French outfit’s team principal feels the team’s image is defined by their on-track performance and not the off-track saga. Outlining the team’s ambitious goal of winning world championships again, the American-Romanian team chief believes the Enstone squad has the ability to get competitive in the top three of the grid again.
Downplaying the effects of the driver line-up saga, Szafnauer said:
“I think the image of Alpine is based on what happens on track and how we perform. And that's what we're focused on now. We'll do the best we can. Not for just this year, but to continue to improve the team. We're on a recruiting drive. We're spending money on tools. We understand what It takes to compete amongst the Top Three."
Alpine has been criticized for the Piastri fiasco and has been questioned for leveraging one driver against the other in a negotiation. The reason for the CRB’s harsh ruling against the team was the lack of clarity and legal binding in Piastri’s contract which cost the Australian his reputation. The F2 champion has also opened up about his lack of trust and clarity in the Enstone squad after a long-drawn complicated contract issue.