RACING

Piastri can’t leave us for McLaren F1 seat following shock Alonso exit

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Piastri won the Formula 2 title at the first attempt last year as an alpine junior but could not find a racing seat in the team in 2022 with Alonso and Esteban Ocon already lined up.

He instead signed a reserve contract with Alpine, but made it clear he wanted to race in 2023.

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Piastri and his manager Mark Webber are said to have agreed a deal to go to McLaren, as it emerged Alpine’s only choice was to place the youngster at Williams for a year.

Alpine’s plan was to keep Alonso one more season before taking on Piastri, but the Spaniard’s unexpected departure has moved the goalposts and the Alpine seat is available after all.

It is unclear for the year whether Piastri will continue the deal with McLaren or accept that he has an obligation to drive for Alpine.

“I’m not aware of any prior arrangements he has with McLaren, if at all,” Szafnauer said when asked by Autosport about Piastri’s intentions.

“But I hear the same rumors you do in the pit lane. But what I do know is that he has contractual obligations to us. And we do to him. And we have honored those obligations all the time. year.

“And these bonds last until 23, and maybe 24, if certain options are chosen.

“And our obligation to him this year was to be a reserve driver, to also put him in last year’s car for a significant amount of time. It’s not insignificant, in last year’s car, in preparation for a race next year.

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Oscar Piastri, Alpine A521

Photo by: Jerry André / Motorsport Images

“Also the FP1s, the simulation work, and we have fulfilled these obligations on both sides. So he played, we played.

“So we have a legal contract with him in the future for ’23. And if an option is taken, for ’24. So I don’t know what he did with McLaren. Like I said, I don’t am not aware of this.

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When asked if Piastri or his management had indicated he had no intention of racing for Alpine, Szafnauer replied: “Oscar and his side are considering their options, whatever that means.”

Szafnauer also indicated that he had had little contact with Webber since the Alonso news broke.

“It happened on Monday – it’s now Tuesday, his manager is in Australia, there’s a bit of a jet lag,” he said.

“But I tried to reach Mark and also wrote texts and emails to him. So give us some time.

“Oscar is our number one favorite candidate. And that’s what we’re going to do.

On Piastri’s apparent reluctance to be placed at Williams, Szafnauer said: “The contract terms, those details that we don’t like to divulge, but that was on the team’s side to say, not the driver’s side. .

“It’s true that every race car driver wants to drive for the best team possible.

Oscar Piastri, reserve driver, Alpine F1 Team

Oscar Piastri, reserve driver, Alpine F1 Team

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

“And if you’re faced with choices between a top of the midfield team and someone who’s not there, of course you’re going to choose the team that has the best potential going forward. So that was a consideration.

“But if you know if your choice is to drive in F1, or sit down another year, I imagine you’re going to choose to drive in F1.”

Szafnauer stressed that the situation is now different: “Now that Fernando has chosen to go to Aston, Oscar’s choice is not to be placed elsewhere, like Williams, as opposed to a midfield team of foreground.

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“Once that choice is your choice in front of you, I can relate to it. But otherwise, I can’t understand, you know what I mean?

“We now have to, as I said, move on, it only happened yesterday. It is now Tuesday. So we will sit down and progress our future driver rosters. And I imagine the choices are no different.

He added: “There should be no complications. If everyone sticks to the deals they signed just a few months ago, we should be able to move forward with the deals we have in place.

Szafnauer has made it clear that Alpine has spent a lot of money and resources preparing Piastri for F1, so they won’t let him go without a fight.

“It’s a significant investment,” he said. “It’s more than just a financial investment, it’s also an emotional investment, and preparing it for what we hope will be a successful career in F1.

“Not every F1 team does this for a successful academy driver, but we chose to do this to prepare him.

“And we only did that with the aim of racing him here in the future. We wouldn’t have done that, if the idea was to prepare him for one of our competitors.

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