Alpine boss Ottmar Schaffnauer has been shocked by Aussie Oscar Piastre’s departure from the squad.
Piastieri sent the F1 world into a spin last week when he turned down the Alpine seat vacated by Fernando Alonso amid reports that Daniel Ricciardo would replace him at McLaren.
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For a man who has yet to drive in F1 and doesn’t gel well with Szafnauer, Piastri blames him for bailing out a team he has invested heavily in.
“I expected more loyalty from Oscar,” the Alpine group principal told the Spanish publication. The secret.
“I started in Formula 1 in 1989 and I have never seen anything like this. And it’s not about Formula 1, it’s about honesty as a person.
“It can happen in ice hockey or soccer, it doesn’t matter. But you don’t do that. He signed a paper, a document saying he would do something different.
“For me, the way I was raised, I don’t need to sign a piece of paper and have someone tell me, ‘You’re lying because you signed this.’ To me, if you say, ‘Hey help me, I’ll help you tomorrow,’ there’s no way I’m going to go back on my word. no way.”
Piastre has been part of Alpine’s development program for several years and has won three successive titles in a stellar rookie career, culminating in last year’s Formula 2 win.
He has driven the Alpine F1 car on several occasions this year at various circuits as part of the team’s testing programme.
As Alpine’s reserve driver, filling the seat vacated by Alonso seems like a logical step, but the Piastre snub doesn’t sit well with Szafnauer.
“The team that looked after him, took him to the world championship and most importantly got him ready in a Formula 1 car last year (he should drive with the team). He knows the circuits,” he said.
“(From Alpine to Piastre) you’ve done everything I’ve asked of you and now if you do it, I promise you I’ll do it. I don’t need a piece of paper that says, ‘With one paragraph, I can get out of here.’
The fact that we have invested literally millions and millions of Euros in developing it must have some credibility. So I don’t understand either, so ask him.”
Despite reports that F1’s contract recognition board has confirmed Piastri’s deal with McLaren, Szafnauer said Alpine will play hardball to keep the 21-year-old.
“We have a contract with Piastre, signed in November, we spoke to our lawyers and they told us that this is a binding contract, so part of that contract allows us to put Oscar in one of the cars in 2023. That’s why he gave us the press release,” he said.
There is also an option for 2024 and the possibility that we could ‘loan’ the driver to another team. We want Fernando with us for one more year and then an Oscar ‘loan’ for 2023.
“I have said in all the press conferences that Piastri will be in Formula 1 in 2023 and because I know that if Fernando had stayed he could have been in our car or on loan in another car.
But Alonso, for whatever reason – and I think I know the reasons, even if you ask him – goes to Aston Martin. So, we started to finalize the agreement with Piastiri, and instead of giving it away, we decided to put it in our car. Hence the statement.
As for Ricciardo, Alpine is open to returning the 33-year-old, formerly known as Renault, to the team where he spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
And if that’s not the case, there are a few other teams he could end up with, a mega $21 million dollar if McLaren actually cuts Ricciardo.