Alpine is fighting for Oscar Piastri, who prefers to drive for McLaren. If necessary, the French racing team wants to bring its young driver to court. And have the costs for expensive Formula 1 tests repaid.
What will become of Oscar Piastri? The Formula 2 and Formula 3 champion refuses to drive for Alpine next year. Instead, the Australian wants to join McLaren – of all people, the team that Alpine is fighting for fourth place in the world championship. That alone hurts the French national racing team.
But Piastri bores the thorn particularly deep into the French soul because Alpine paid for a large part of his training. Because the Enstone-based racing team sends him around the world to test drive a Formula 1 car at various racetracks. That eats up millions. Nevertheless, Piastri does not seem to feel obliged to show gratitude or loyalty.
Alpine wants compensation if necessary
You have to be careful with a judgment because only the parties involved know the details. So Alpine, Piastri and probably McLaren. And it's precisely these small details that are at stake in this case, which has built up to become the transfer saga of the year. Alpine insists they have a valid contract with their 21-year-old youngster, which includes a loan to another team. Piastri apparently refused to be deported to Williams. He and his management seem confident they have found a loophole through which he could join McLaren. Maybe there is simply no binding contract.
The case could end up in court. Alpine prepares for a standoff in front of the judges. "It is more than 90 percent likely that we will go to the Supreme Court," quoted the Reuters news agency as Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer. In England, that's the High Court. In the worst case, his racing team wants to force Piastri to pay back the millions that have been invested in him.
According to the Reuters report, Szafnauer has already visited the so-called "Formula One Contract Recognition Board" - CRB for short. This department deals with the contracts within the premier class. "Should the CRB say to Piastri that his license is only valid for Alpine and he replies that he will never drive for us and instead will take a year off, we will have to go to the High Court to seek compensation."
Millions for F1 tests
For the test drives, Alpine provides its youngster with a car from the previous year. Piastri should use it to prepare for Formula 1. The V6 turbo engine alone with the associated electric machines costs around 1.75 million euros. There are also costs for parts wear, maintenance, route rental, travel, hotels, mechanics, engineers. That's millions that Alpine is putting into Piastri. You don't want to pay that to end up seeing him in a McLaren.
"We haven't sat down with the accountants yet and calculated everything down to the cent. We would have to do that in a court case," says the team leader. In this chaos, Szafnauer will not be able to afford a summer vacation. The alleged contract that Alpine is talking about was drawn up last November. Before his time.
Szafnauer only took over the position of team boss in February of this year. The rest of Alpine's management has gone into hiding. Szafnauer should and must fix it. With all the disputes, a future together with Piastri is becoming increasingly unlikely - even if Alpine were right. The tablecloth between the team and the driver appears to have been cut.