Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has discussed where the team stands with reserve driver Oscar Piastri as they prepare to face the FIA’s Contracts Recognition Board on Monday to clarify their young driver’s status for 2023.
After Fernando Alonso made the shocking announcement to leave Alpine, Alpine announced reserve driver Piastri as the Spaniard’s replacement for 2023 for Alpine next year.”
As Alpine and Piastri prepare to appear before the FIA Contracts Recognition Board (CRB) to clarify the situation, Szafnauer was asked if he was confident the ruling would be in his team’s favour.
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“Very. I’ve seen both sides of the argument and we’re confident Oscar signed with us in November and there are certain things that have to be in the contract and I’m confident they’re in there,” said Szafnauer.
“I rarely like to talk about details of driver contracts, but two things I can say: one, there was no ‘by July 31 you have to do some things or therefore you can move on’ – there is none of that. That July 31st deadline that I read all the time is fictitious, it’s not in the contract he signed.
“And the contract term is until 2024 with an option at the end of ’23. So I’ll just say those things, but there’s a lot more in it. Like I said, I don’t really like getting into details. to talk,” explained the Alpine boss.
Alpine raised concerns when they issued a press release confirming Piastri is a full-time driver for 2023 without a statement from the driver himself – concern Szafnauer explained on Friday.
“I told Oscar before the announcement was made, he happened to be in the simulator so I went and found him, he smiled and was grateful, so we made the release very quickly.
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“Things happen very quickly … and we also reacted quickly and didn’t want to go back and forth with his management, so we released the release.”
Asked when he found out that Piastri would contest Alpine’s press release, Szafnauer replied: “So, we heard through social media.”
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Szafnauer insisted relations with Alpine’s reserve driver did not “falter” despite the contract being submitted to an ombudsman on Monday, adding that the situation reminded him of Jenson Button’s attempt to leave BAR Honda for Williams in the middle of the season. the 2000s, when Szafnauer himself was Honda Racing Development Vice President.
“[Oscar] is back in Enstone, he’s driving our simulator, helping set up the car, and we continue to prepare Oscar in no different way than in the past. The relationship has not wavered and we continue.
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“I think going to the CRB is the logical next step if you think you have a contract, a valid contract, with a driver and he has signed something else.
“This has happened in the past. I happened to be there when it happened to Jenson Button when he signed for Williams, but BAR Honda rightly took their option… Jenson really wanted to go to Williams; BAR won at the CRB and then had a great relationship with Jenson culminating in a World Championship. Although that was the year after Honda left, but it was basically the same team. ”