Alpine F1 has finally responded to Oscar Piastri’s refusal to race for it in 2023, which certainly means the Australian has made a tight commitment to another team, McLaren F1 in this case.
So far, the spokesperson has only reacted by noting that the team considered it right in regards to Piastre’s tenure.
Alpine F1 director Otmar Szafnauer has finally taken a long secret in the affair, to El Confidencial, returning first and foremost to the sudden announcement of Fernando Alonso to join a rival team without warning his superiors.
“It was the first time I’ve encountered something like this, that’s for sure. Although I’m not entirely surprised, because I’ve encountered other situations and stories on both sides, from the pilots’ side and the teams’ side. But, in my case, I’ve never experienced anything like this before.”
“The Piranha Club in action? I think this capitalism is at its best. Nothing is certain until his signature… We had many conversations with Fernando, we wanted him to stay, and obviously he also had his own conversations with Aston Martin… They were details of The knots they were putting on the table interest him more than some of the details he had to discuss with us.
Handling Alonso for integrity
Szafnauer does not hesitate to engage with Alonso regarding honoring commitments, even those made orally, while the two men were discussing. Did he feel betrayed or disappointed on Monday morning, 10 a.m., the time of the public announcement?
“Like I said before, a little of both. I can’t be naive enough not to know the rules of the game in Formula 1, I’ve been through many stories. But personally I think I’m a man of integrity and if I stick to something, I’ll do my best to make it happen.”
“I keep my promise, it’s the way I was brought up, what my dad passed on to me. I did it with Sebastian Vettel, with Julian Jacobi – who managed Ayrton Senna and now Sergio Perez – with Anthony Hamilton when he played Paul di Resta… But ok, I understood that not everyone does things the same way.”
“Alonso told me on Sunday evening that he was going to a Greek island on a boat, I think he mentioned it, but not for me to accompany him. I called him several times in the morning and I couldn’t reach him. That’s what he said to me, that it would be difficult to locate, which is why he said That. Regarding Piastri’s statement, as soon as we heard about Fernando with Aston Martin, as we were working with him for the next year and saw that Alonso’s continuity was not possible, we took out the press release.”
“We have a contract with Piastre.”
Alpine F1 had three excellent drivers on July 31, and two more on August 1, including one who wants to leave. But Szafnauer is still hopeful that he will be able to keep Pastry next year, although that will have to be shown before lawyers.
“It’s not final yet. We have a contract with Piastri, which he signed in November, we spoke with our lawyer and they told us it’s a binding contract, so part of that contract allows us to put an Oscar in one of the cars in 2023 and that’s why we issued the press release.”
“There is also an option for 2024 and the possibility of ‘loaning’ the driver to another team. We wanted Fernando to be with us for another year and then loan from Oscar for 2023. I’ve always said it in all my press conferences, that Piastri will be in Formula 1 in 2023 and that’s because I was I know he could be in our car or in another car, on loan, if Fernando stays.
“But Alonso, for some reason – and I think I know the reasons, although you should ask him – is going to Aston Martin. So we started to close the deal with the Piastri, and instead of loaning him, we decided to put it in our car. Hence the statement.”
Szafnauer “doesn’t understand” Piastri
But Oscar Piastre said he did not want to race in the Alps. Why is he looking for a team other than the team that paid the price for his entire career until Formula 1?
“I think it’s a question for Piastri, because I don’t understand either. I’m relatively new to the team. The direction we’ve got from Luca de Meo is great, the support he gives us is great, Laurent Rossi’s team, my line manager and CEO of Alpine, has saved a great deal maker.” For the brand, including the Formula 1 team…it’s all great and we’ve shared it with the pilots.”
“Luca de Meo has a great vision, he’s revitalized the brand. The cars and their profits fund the team, and it’s a great marketing tool for the brand. The strategic plan is very good and Piastre knows it, even better than McLaren. We are ahead of them in the championship and we hope to be ahead of them in the the end “.
“The future of the team? We have a big budget and people with a lot of experience. I just arrived, I know the areas to strengthen, the technical team, we are hiring people in the areas we need to improve and we implement new tools.”
“In our future, in the 100 race plan we’re all working on, I think there’s room for Bistre as well. And we supported him. There has to be some loyalty to the fact that we actually invested millions and millions of euros to prepare it, so I don’t understand either, you have to ask him.”
Albin wanted Alonso’s salary hike
Safnauer says he knows the reasons for Alonso’s departure. According to him, it is already a contract length issue, and the Hungarian explains why he is not sure if he will extend the Spaniard for two years for age reasons.
“You have to ask him, but for Alonso, the long-term commitment to the team was very important. A two-year contract, even if it’s a plus one. I think one of the keys to Fernando was a contract extension. He rode at a very high level and I told him that if he continues at that level We’ll go next year for sure, and we’d be crazy not to.
“But, like anyone in life, there comes a time when age affects your psychic abilities, your eyes, your brain, your muscles, your nervous system… they regress. Schumacher, 42, was beaten up by Rosberg. At 38, It wouldn’t happen. It happens to all of us, footballers, snooker players, cricketers – I live in England, when I lived in America I knew nothing of the sport.”
“The main thing is how you judge the trajectory of the ball, how it bounces, how the racket moves a few centimeters … At a certain age, players are still good, but they can’t do it when they were younger. For this reason, we and Fernando thought that it was a general, Plus a year, plus a year. But he wanted guarantees of more time.”
There have also been rumors of disagreements over Alonso’s salary to pay, but Szafnauer maintains that Alpine did the best it could: “I don’t know how much they are going to pay him at Aston Martin, to be honest I don’t know. What I do know is that we gave him more money than we are paying now, and that makes sense.”
“It’s a number that initially tried to negotiate, like everyone else, but in the end we came to a formal agreement. But I don’t know, I heard rumors that they were going to make a very high offer. I don’t know if that was a deciding factor, ask him.”
“Every driver knows what was going on”
Everything looks like a big mess from the outside: the relaunch of the Alpine / Renault project, with the double world champion at the time and everything flying away … including a potentially promising alternative, which the team bet on for the long term.
“I didn’t expect it. When Piastri, for example, signed the contract with Alpine in November, he was there and knew nothing. I always saw Laurent Rossi trying to do better for the drivers. With contracts, with Fernando, who wanted to continue, With Oscar, who wanted a seat in 2023…and Rossi gave his consent, Laurent worked hard to find that seat for next year.”
“At Alpine, we were trying to do what was best for both drivers, not trying to play with either of them, and being transparent with them. Every driver knew what was going on. Unfortunately, Alonso signed with Aston Martin and I understand why. But with Piastri, no. “
Szafnauer expected ‘more loyalty’ from Piastri
Wasn’t there a little bit of naivety and complicity between Alonso, Pestre, Mark Webber and Flavio Briatore, the people who are related and close?
“Are you saying they might have shared information with each other? Look, I have no record of that, but this is Formula 1 and maybe in a few years someone will say they have proof of sharing information, I wouldn’t be surprised. I always tell everyone that it’s in Formula 1. You have to act as if everyone knows everything. And that there are no secrets in these things.” When you ask someone not to say anything, they act as everyone knows. And that’s how I’ve steered my boat in Formula 1 for 25 years. And if information sharing is produced, you shouldn’t be surprised.”
“However, I was expecting more loyalty from Piastri. He has to have that with this team that took care of him, that took him this far and, above all, last year he put in Formula 1 so he’s ready, so he knows the track. I expected more loyalty from Oscar than he showed. I started in 1989 in Formula 1 and I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“And it’s not about Formula 1, it’s about integrity as a human being. It can happen in ice hockey or in football, whatever. But it’s not Formula 1. He signed a paper, a document, saying he’d do something different. I, if I said ‘help me,’ I’ll help you tomorrow, ‘No way will you take your word back. Absolutely not.’
Many pilots show their interest
Without Piastre and without Alonso .. what will be the future of the Alps? Everything indicates that Daniel Ricciardo can return to the team, two years after his departure. Szafnauer is still dependent on Piastri but knows he has to prepare for his absence. The good news is that there is no shortage of potential candidates.
“Alonso va chez Aston Martin. Nous avions un contrat avec Piastri et nous devons comprendre où cela nous mène légallement. Nous croyons, et c’est pourquoi nous avons publié cette déclaration, à nous con avons unignu un contra contra. étudier où cela nous mène. The remaining.”
“No wonder so many people call me, but of those fourteen, four will remain on the shortlist. And among them is Biastr.”
And if he leaves Piastri, will Alpine F1 turn against the driver? Financial compensation for everything that was invested over the years?
“First of all, let’s see where we are legally with Oscar. We have a contract that says we have to support him in his career up to Formula 1 by investing a lot of money. But above all, we must take into account that “last year We put one seat on the track for him and he’s done 3,500km. We’ve run seven independent tests with it and it doesn’t come cheap. The cost of just one engine is 1,750,000. The mechanics, the team that ran these tests, the flights and the flights… We’ve spent lots and lots of money on Piastri to prepare it for the future, and if that future isn’t with us, it’s logical and fair to ask for compensation.”