Alpine’s inefficiency and indecisiveness with Oscar Piastri and his management in contractual negotiations cost them their reserve driver. In an exclusive by RacingNews365, it has been reported that the French outfit had nothing beyond a reserve driver’s contract with the Australian driver.
RacingNews365 reports that Oscar Piastri’s management, which included Mark Webber, kept waiting since November 2021 for a proper contract for both a reserve driver and an F1 driver. The F2 champion was promised a contract for a reserve role in 2022 and an F1 seat for 2023 in his contract, with a timeline given of 10 days to process the document.
RacingNews365 underlined the beginning of the Oscar Piastri contract saga in their report, saying:
“On November 15, 2021- Alpine raised an option in [Oscar] Piastri’s Alpine Academy contract, allowing the team to make him a test and reserve driver for 2022 and also hinting at a role as an F1 driver for 2023 and beyond. When the option was raised, some terms were drawn up, but Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi explicitly emphasized that these terms were only the starting point for further negotiations on the final, final terms of the contract.”
“In addition, the Australian and his management were promised a list within ten working days with the conditions that had to be met for an F1 seat before 2023. These conditions were to form the basis for further negotiations on the precise details of a contract between Piastri and the Alpine Academy. In other words: everything revolved around those conditions, which Alpine would send to Piastri within ten working days.”
After not hearing from Alpine for weeks, Oscar Piastri’s management was assured by an understaffed legal team from Enstone that they will have something in hand by March 2022. By then, a new season was ready to begin and the only terms that were offered were those for a reserve role and not a driving seat in 2023.
Highlighting the offer made to Oscar Piastri in March 2022, RacingNews365 reported:
“In March 2022, [Mark] Webber and associates only received a draft with the conditions for his role as reserve driver. There was no mention of his possible role as an F1 driver in 2023, which was still discussed in November. Ultimately, Alpine wanted to draw up two separate contracts. One for Piastri’s role as reserve driver and one for his possible future role as a full F1 driver. And so it took longer and longer. The F1 season started on March 18 and the CRB had to have and approve Piastri’s contract for that day. Otherwise, he couldn’t get a super license and not participate in 2022 if he needed to. In the rush to meet that deadline, Alpine focused on Piastri’s 2022 contract, i.e. the reserve driver contract.”
Why did Oscar Piastri decide to ditch Alpine for McLaren?
Due to delays by Alpine in offering Oscar Piastri the promised seat for 2023, coupled with Mark Webber’s persistence, which led to him having a 2022 reserve deal, there was a growing amount of frustration with the French team’s indecisiveness.
The 2022 terms of the contract, however, did not legally bind the Australian to Alpine. The F2 champion eventually signed with McLaren on July 4, and when the Enstone-based team announced him as a driver at the end of July 2022, he put out a statement on social media denying the drive.
RacingNews365 reported the ongoings of March 2022 saying:
“On March 14, the deal for 2022 was sent by Alpine to the CRB, while no final terms had been agreed in the meantime. Still, the Alpine attorney sent a registration form for Piastri to the CRB. That form only mentioned 2022 and the section of the form where the parties could share any information about renewal options was left blank. On March 15, Piastri received his contract via email from Alpine’s legal department, with chief executive, Director of Legal Affairs Benedicte Mercer, stating that this was an “emergency measure” as the season was about to start and there was no final agreement between the teams yet. two parties. So on March 18, the standings were as follows: Piastri was registered as a reserve driver for 2022, while a contract had not even been signed and the conditions had not yet been agreed. For the years after 2022 there was no contract at all, because this was not declared to the CRB.”
Eventually, when negotiations resumed later in the season in May, RacingNews365 reported an offer that was made to Oscar Piastri, saying:
“After all the hassle in March, there was silence for a while, after which Alpine reportedly made an F1 contract offer in May for the period 2023 to 2026. According to that offer, Piastri would first be kept at Williams on a rental basis for two years, in 2023 and 2024. He would then be allowed to stay with Alpine as an F1 driver in 2025 and 2026. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. After it had been quiet for more than half a year before a real contract proposal finally came, Piastri was not offered a seat at Alpine but a seat at Williams.”
The report further added:
“Behind Alpine’s back, he [Oscar Piastri] had already signed a contract with McLaren on July 4, where Daniel Ricciardo will leave the ship at the end of this year. However, Alpine was convinced that they had fulfilled certain conditions in their contract that would entitle them to the services of Piastri in 2023. Not so, the CRB ruled unanimously and harshly. The CRB’s unanimous verdict shows that Alpine has clearly missed the mark when it comes to Piastri’s contract.”
Despite the French team being certain that Oscar Piastri was bound to them legally in a contractual agreement, the CRB tribunal ruled otherwise. The final offer made by the French team wouldn’t assure the Australian a drive until 2025 with an interim offer to race at Williams or another team until then. He was left with no choice but to sign with McLaren, who were looking to replace Daniel Ricciardo.