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"I expected more loyalty from Piastri," says Szafnauer

NEWS STORY
11/08/2022

"It's not about Formula 1, it's about integrity as a human being," says Alpine boss, Otmar Szafnauer who admits that in his thirty-plus years in F1 he has never experienced anything like the current situation.

While F1 is now in its mandatory summer break, having shutdown for two weeks until ramping up again in preparation for the Belgian Grand Prix, a number of teams will be kept working throughout... those being the teams of lawyers working on behalf of the various parties caught up in the Oscar Piastri saga.

Speaking to Spain's, El Confidencial, Szafnauer insists that Alpine's contract with the Australian is binding, though in all honesty his obvious disgust at how the youngster has handled the situation would appear to rule out any possibility of the parties working together.

"We have a contract with Piastri, which he signed in November," says the American. "We have spoken to our lawyers and they have told us that this is a binding contract.

"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 adds, referring to last Tuesday's announcement that was quickly denied by the driver.

"There is also an option for 2024," he continues, "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," he insists, "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, is going to Aston Martin.

"So, we started to finalise the agreement with Piastri, and instead of giving him away, we decided to put him in our car. Hence, the statement."

Of course, the very fact that the press release didn't include a quote from the Australian suggested that there was more to it all than appeared... though few expected Piastri to react as swiftly and defiantly.

Asked why Piastri appears to have chosen McLaren over Alpine, Szafnauer's response is pretty much the same as that to Alonso's sudden change of heart.

"I think it's a question for Piastri," he says, "because I don't understand it either.

"In our future, in that hundred-race plan we are all working on, I think there is also room for Piastri," he continues.

"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.

"I expected more loyalty from Piastri," he insists. "He should have it with the team that has taken care of him, that has taken him to the world championship and, above all, that has during the last year 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.

"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.

"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'."

With an eye on those millions of euros invested in the youngster, Szafnauer doesn't rule out the possibility of Alpine demanding financial compensation.

"We have to take into account that last year we put him in a single-seater and he did 3,500 kilometres," he says. "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."

Nonetheless, Daniel Ricciardo aside, Szafnauer insists that there is no lack of drivers keen to sit in the second car alongside Esteban Ocon.

"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."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 11/08/2022 17:20

"I have to agree with Szafnauer. Piastri has been ill advised and has shown poor form to those who got him to where he is.

Piastri could've easily waited a day and talked to Szafnauer along with his management. Even if the outcome is the same. "

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2. Posted by kenji, 11/08/2022 0:30

"I somehow think that a lot of issues have been overlooked in this saga. Upon reflection, the major problem is put down to the non performance being attributed to Ricciardo...however that non performance needs to be re evaluated IMO. What I now see emerging is the fact that McLaren have failed to supply Ricciardo a winning car. Not even their 'golden child' can notch up one win let alone multiples. Ricciardo has been made out to be the villain to mask the McLaren inadequacies and all their 'hustle' can't hide that fact. Ricciardos failure to match Norris's point tally is used as a metric to demonise their driver when IMO McLaren should shoulder the major blame. Maybe Daniel can lodge a countersuit against McLaren for non performance in that they have given him a car that has no hope of winning [under most conditions ] and ruined his reputation!!!"

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3. Posted by Scenic, 10/08/2022 10:26

"Being an elderly Aussie sometime club racer in the UK in the 60's and 70's, I'm disgraced by Piastri and his manager now setting the dishonesty benchmark for future Antipodean aspiring F1 drivers.
"

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4. Posted by ARL, 09/08/2022 20:26

"Probably a waste of 1s and 0s to reminisce about Stirling driving on a handshake with Rob Walker or Jackie Stewart driving for Ken Tyrrell on the same basis, anyway where would the corporate lawyers earn their ill-gotten gains from generating 100 page agreements with built-in holes (to gain even more ill-gotten gains from arguing over)?

If Alpine were so keen to hang on to Piastri then it would appear foolish to alledgedly have a date half way through the year by which they needed to confirm that they would be renewing his contract for next year, and then let the date pass with no extension or confirmation - which is suggested as the grounds for Piastri heading elsewhere. It would appear doubly foolish to have the same date for confirming Alonso for next year, particularly if Szafnauer also chose that date to try to play hard ball with Alonso over whether the next contract was for one or more years.

Bit tough that Vettel just happened to open another door when Szafnauer was looking the wrong way. Ironic that Vettel jumping ship from Red Bull, because Ricciardo was making life difficult for him, apparently led to Alonso getting levered out from Ferrari - and headed to McLaren. Doubtless Fernando is hoping that he is not heading for another dud courtesy of Seb........

If Alpine spent millions developing a driver, and then failed to keep him tied down for the forseeable future, well there's a phrase used round here,"Hell mend them".

I don't see any court having sympathy for a team wanting a refund of typical F1 development funds from an out of contract driver. I'm sure lawyers will have a field day deciding how much of the costs were spent on the driver and how much on training other staff. "

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5. Posted by Endre, 09/08/2022 14:56 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 09/08/2022 15:44)

"More rumors today; according to one site: Piastri never actually held an F1 contract with Alpine. ... it is claimed the contract signed was between Piastri and Alpine's Driver Academy, rather than the F1 team. Therefore, the contract was never registered with Formula 1's Contract Recognition Board (CRB). Meanwhile, McLaren are said to have lodged their Piastri contract with the CRB, with no issues being raised.

This really is like a soap opera."

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6. Posted by didaho, 09/08/2022 7:16

"'We have a contract with Piastri, which he signed in November'...'Part of that contract allows us to put Oscar in one of our cars in 2023'
Quite a strange way to put refer to a driver's normal yearly contract no?"

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7. Posted by kenji, 09/08/2022 0:36

"I have seen reports that CRB have ruled in favour of Piastri and that he is clear to leave Alpine. None of the major F1 sites have run that story? Why would that be? Likewise, if Ricciardo has a valid contract, and it appears that he certainly does, then refuses to walk what happens then? Do McLaren piut him in the car or does he sit it out and McLaren have to pay him and another driver to sub? The same scenario exists for Alpine as well. Both teams pay out salaries for their contracted drivers as well as subs!!! That will be costly and crazy to boot. A bunfight for the bewigged...."

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8. Posted by Editor, 08/08/2022 22:43 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 09/08/2022 15:44)

"According to Reuters tonight...

The American said he contacted Formula One's Contract Recognition Board (CRB) last week but that avenue might not be sufficient.

"If the CRB says 'your licence is only valid at Alpine', and then he (Piastri) says 'that's great but I'm never driving for them, I'll just sit out a year', then you've got to go to the High Court for compensation," said Szafnauer."

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9. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 08/08/2022 21:13

"Mind you, given Alonso's track record of moving to the right team at the wrong moment, and vice versa, maybe the '23 Alpine will be an absolute rocketship......"

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10. Posted by ChickenFarmerF1, 08/08/2022 20:31

"@Roli - only Danny Ric knows for sure (if even he does). But I'd say either Alpine or outside of F1 are the only realistic options. There's no other available seat that would be worth his talents in F1. He could do Indy with McLaren I suppose.

One comment I saw earlier from someone else was to take a year or two sabbatical in another series (WEC, Formula E, etc) and then try to come back with Andretti's team, if that ever happens. That might make the most sense if Alpine doesn't take him back."

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11. Posted by Roli, 08/08/2022 19:18

"Sounds to me that Piastri has been led by someone else (prob Zak). Its almost like the Schumaker saga. Where to now for Ricciardo ?"

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12. Posted by Mad Matt, 08/08/2022 18:27

"Good point ChickenFarmer... the reality is nobody (outside of the teams and drivers) knows what's gone on so we can't really judge.

Perhaps the rumours Endre has heard are correct and both drivers are acting fairly... or perhaps they're both acting like scum... we don't know.

Even if Oscar Piastri is wrong about the contract, it could be that he's acting on the wrong advice of someone else.... who knows?

I suspect we'll find out fairly soon though, well at least part of the story :-)"

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13. Posted by ChickenFarmerF1, 08/08/2022 16:45

"@Endre - presumably if the CRB had issued such a ruling Pitpass would have reported on it? They intentionally stay away from rumor and other pulp, so until I see it here, or some official publication I'll remain skeptical anything of the sort has actually happened. I'm only seeing pretty unofficial reports on the CRB.

Otherwise, I'm with you on the rest of the topic."

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14. Posted by Endre, 08/08/2022 15:43 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 09/08/2022 15:44)

"The CRB has already ruled on August 6 and this is what they found: "Alpine claim on Piastri ruled ‘amateurish’ "
From another article: "FIA’s contract recognition board are said to have today ruled Piastri’s new contract with McLaren is valid and surpass his previous deal with ALPINE."

The only entity here with no loyalty and integrity is Alpine. They were giving Alonso the run around and in the meantime expected Piastri to just sit on the sideline not racing, wasting valuable year(s) of his career. This behavior lines up nicely with the toxic environment inside Alpine as reported by many sources."

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15. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 08/08/2022 15:24

"Neither driver (Alonso and Piastri) come out of this well. I assume the CRB will rule on it all eventually over Piastri. But he hasn't been well advised.....not a good way to start - if, indeed, he does."

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