It is now a certainty, Oscar Piastri will start in Formula 1 next year under the colors of McLaren. For the time being, the Australian is still a reserve and development driver.Alpine, for whom he is working this weekend. A situation which could however not last, and about which the French team will decide next week.
"He is with us this weekend, he is working in the simulator and he will continue this weekend"confirms this Saturday in Zandvoort the director of Alpine, Otmar Szafnauer. "There are only two days left, today and tomorrow. And then, on Monday, we will meet with him and we will decide what happens next. We will decide on Monday, after. I don't want to think about it here because he doesn't there are no other considerations to be had."
After a hearing held earlier this week, the FIA Contract Recognition Board (CRB) ruled on Friday by validating the agreement between Oscar Piastri and McLaren for 2023 and 2024. Last weekend, Otmar Szafnauer said he was confident of Alpine's right in this case, but he also recognizes that the arguments brought by McLaren have changed his perception.
"Going there, I did not know all the arguments of the other party"he says. "Afterwards, it took four days, as everyone knows. There were good arguments on both sides. Coming out [du CRB], I thought it was about 50-50. As you know, in the end, they didn't decide in our favour. I would have accepted the outcome either way."
When at the beginning of the month Alpine announced the promotion of Oscar Piastri in the wake of the confirmed departure of Fernando Alonso pour Aston Martin, the controversy broke out. The Australian Pilot assures that he had informed the Enstone stable of his departure well in advance, but Alpine considered that the contractual elements were in his favour.
"At that time, we had discussions with Oscar and it felt like the contractual arrangements we had with him were valid, and we didn't need to go to the CRB. "justifies Otmar Szafnauer. "So that's the reason for our decision."
As for when Oscar Piastri was informed in Enstone at the beginning of August, after a session in the simulator, everyone is firmly sticking to their positions. The future McLaren driver described "a strange and frankly upsetting episode"which is however not described as such by the leader of Alpine.
"What I can say is repeat what I said before"insiste Otmar Szafnauer. "Oscar was in the simulator. When he finished his session, I went to tell him the news and congratulated him. He smiled and said thank you. Was there a group of people? I can tell you no, it was me and the simulator technician, who was in the same room, if you've ever seen a simulator, it's a pretty big room, as big as here [la salle de conférence de presse à Zandvoort]. We were three in this room. So it was not a group of people. It wasn't weird, he smiled and said thank you."