Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has called out Oscar Piastri’s integrity ahead of a crucial meeting over the Australian Formula One hopeful’s contract status.
The 21-year-old looks set to drive for McLaren next year after the British team negotiated a buyout with Australian race winner Daniel Ricciardo.
But Piastri’s contract dispute with Alpine is still rumbling in the background and could come to a head this week.
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Alpine will head into arbitration with the sport’s Contract Recognition Board on Monday hopeful of vindication over Piastri and his manager, Australian F1 great Mark Webber.
The pair secretly completed a deal with McLaren when Alpine believed they had Piastri under contract for 2023 and beyond.
“He’s a promising young driver,” Szafnauer said at the Belgian Grand Prix on Friday.
“He hasn’t driven in F1 yet. And my wish for Oscar was that he had a bit more integrity.
“He signed a piece of paper as well back in November and we’ve done everything on our end of the bargain to prepare him for F1.
“And his end of the bargain was to either drive for us, or take a seat where we would place him for the next three years.
“And I just wish Oscar would have remembered what he signed in November and what he signed up to.”
The situation exploded at the start of August when Alpine, reeling from the shock defection of Fernando Alonso to Aston Martin, announced Piastri had been promoted to a race seat for 2023.
Piastri subsequently set fire to that idea, and with it his relationship with the team.
“I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine F1 have put out a press release late this afternoon that I am driving for them next year,” he tweeted.
“This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year.”
Piastri had long been expected to join backmarkers Williams, owing to Alonso re-signing with Alpine, but rumours began to swirl of another deal when those announcements never came to pass.
He and Webber were understood to have grown frustrated by the prospect of serving out an apprenticeship with the team on track to claim a fourth last-place finish in the last five years.
Ricciardo became the odd man out when it emerged McLaren were the mystery team behind Piastri’s salvo.
The Australian veteran could now land on his feet at Alpine, the constructor known as Renault when he raced for them in 2019 and 2020.
“The team speak very highly of Daniel and his time here,” Szafnauer said.
“We haven’t had those strategic (contract) discussions yet, but everybody I ask, the engineering team, they really speak highly of his skill as a driver and as a team motivator.”
Piastri’s radio silence
Ricciardo, meanwhile, said he is open to a return to Alpine to fill the vacancy left by Piastri.
The 33-year-old also revealed he had not spoken to the young driver or Webber in recent months.
“I don’t think there’s been a reason for him to reach out,” Ricciardo said at Spa.
“I’m sure they’re going through their stuff as well. I’ve been trying to sort my stuff out.”
Despite Piastri helping to push him out of McLaren, Ricciardo said he will hold no grudge against him.
“I honestly still don’t know what the future holds for Oscar,” he said, noting McLaren are yet to publicly acknowledge their Piastri contract.
“Obviously Mark’s doing his job for Oscar, I don’t take any of that personal.
“Assuming Oscar, I think, is kind of guaranteed a spot on the grid next year somewhere, I will support him, and I will support a fellow Aussie.”