Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer has blasted Aussie Oscar Piastri following his shock destruction from the team.
Piastri sent the F1 world into a spin last week when he rejected Alpine’s seat vacated by Fernando Alonso, amid shock reports he is replacing Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren.
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It was a bold move for a man who is yet to drive in F1 and clearly didn’t sit well with Szafnauer, who slammed Piastri for bailing out on the team that had invested so much in him.
“I expected more loyalty from Oscar than he is showing,” the Alpine team principal told Spanish publication El Confidencial.
“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.
“It could happen in ice hockey or soccer, it doesn’t matter. But you don’t do that. He signed a piece of paper, a document, saying he would do something different.
“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.”
Piastri had been part of Alpine’s development program for several years and won three consecutive title across a stellar junior career, culminating in last year’s Formula 2 triumph.
He has driven Alpine’s F1 car on numerous occasions on different circuits this year as part of the team’s testing program.
As Alpine’s reserve driver, filling the seat left by Alonso seemed like the logical move, but Piastri’s snub doesn’t sit well with Szafnauer.
“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.
“You did everything I asked you to do (from Alpine to Piastri) and now I promise you that if you do this, I will do this. I don’t need a piece of paper where it says, ‘With a clause, I can get out of here’.
“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.”
Despite reports F1’s Contract Recognition Board has already validated Piastri’s agreement with McLaren, Szafnauer said Alpine will play hardball in a bid to hold on to the 21-year-old.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“I have always said in all my press conferences that Piastri would be in Formula 1 in 2023 and it is because I knew he could be in our car or in another car, on loan, if Fernando had stayed.
“But Alonso, for whatever reason – and I think I know the reasons, although you should ask him – he goes to Aston Martin. So, we started to finalize the agreement with Piastri, and instead of giving him away, we decided to put him in our car. Hence, the statement.”
As for Ricciardo, Alpine is open to the 33-year-old returning to the team, formerly known as Renault, where he spent too seasons in 2019 and 2020.
And if that doesn’t eventuate, there are a few other teams where he could end up, while a mega $21 million payout beckons if McLaren does indeed cut Ricciardo loose.