Fernando Alonso rubbishes speculation that he was part of a conspiracy aimed at allowing Oscar Piastri to break free of his Alpine contract and join McLaren.
It was the Spaniard's shock announcement of his move to Aston Martin in 2023 which triggered the row which dominated the summer break, and should be resolved this week following Monday's meeting of the Contract Recognition Board.
When Alonso announced his departure for Aston Martin, Alpine reacted by confirming Piastri as Esteban Ocon's teammate for next year, only for the Australian to categorically state that he would not be driving for the French team.
With Piastri managed by countryman Mark Webber, who was managed throughout his racing career by Flavio Briatore, who also manages Alonso, there was speculation that the Spaniard deliberately delayed his decision until Alpine's option on the F2 champion had run out and that the whole operation had been orchestrated by the former Benetton and Renault boss.
Asked if there had been a conspiracy, Alonso was adamant: "No, not at all...
"I read that in the first days, and honestly, it was quite sad, and annoying to read that, you know, conspiracy, because, I mean, I make this decision, I explain why.
"From some months I've been chatting with the team about extending the contract, that nothing officially arrive, and nothing officially happened and Aston called me after Sebastian retired.
"If Sebastian probably continue, this will not happen, they move to Aston. So, I mean, they were very clear and very easy decisions from my side.
"What happened after and what is happening, as I said, with Oscar, whatever, is completely, you know, not my thing. I will be completely aside.
"Oscar is an incredible talent for any team and for Alpine. I've been working with him for now two years and I wish him the best, and also the best for Alpine, because it's going to be my team this year but they're going to be my team always on my heart, as I said before, because we achieved things that were unthinkable when we started the relationship, and I went back to the sport also thanks to Alpine, so I only wish the best for them.
"And those comments that I read, they were sad to read. Bar of any of these negotiations, you know, I've been doing my things always and Flavio's coming to some races, but as you may know, with other deals that he has with Stefano and Formula 1 and Paddock Club and things, but not related to me."
Meanwhile, Otmar Szafnauer insists there never was a deadline for Piastri in the first place.
"I rarely like to talk about details of driver contracts," said the American, "but two things I can say: One, there was no 'by the 31st of July you have to do some things or therefore you can get out'. There's none of. That 31st of July deadline that I read all the time is fictitious. It's not in the contract that he signed and the term of the contract is through 2024 with an option at the end of '23. So I'll just say those things, but there's a lot more in it but like I said, I don't really like to talk about specifics."
Meanwhile, though much was made of the fact that Piastri wasn't quoted in the Alpine press release in which he was named as Ocon's teammate, Szafnauer insists that the Australian was fully aware the announcement was to be made.
"I told Oscar, before the announcement was made - he happened to be in the simulator - so I went and found him and he smiled and was thankful so we made the release very quickly."
Seemingly, a further release, either from Alpine or McLaren, will be issued in the coming days.