Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi has admitted that the team made some “legal technical mistakes” in the handling of Oscar Piastri.
Piastri’s eventual move to McLaren was the story of the summer with both his new and current team fighting over who had the legally binding contract.
The case was taken to the Contract Recognition Board who sided with McLaren, allowing the Woking-based team to finally announce the young Australian as their replacement for Daniel Ricciardo.
Rossi said that the team excepted more “loyalty” from the 21-year-old and said they made mistakes in the handling of his contract as a result.
“He never signed any contracts we put to him,” Rossi told F1.com. “We put contracts forward many times. They were never signed. We could not retain him because he didn’t sign a contract with us. We were expecting more loyalty.
“We made some mistakes, we made some legal technical mistakes,” he says. “We left the door ajar by not forcing him in with a contract that is so tight he couldn’t move.
In the aftermath, Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer accused Piastri of a “lack of integrity” and Rossi said that they “never thought” he would move after the support they had given him.
“Why did we do that? It’s a bit of an oversight because we never thought that when you give so much to someone, when you give them training, a reserve role, a seat in a partner team, he will not take it after being supported for so many years and winning the championship through your support.
We have signed 2021 F2 champion @OscarPiastri.
Oscar joins Lando to form our exciting F1 driver line-up from 2023. 👊
Full story. ⬇️
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) September 2, 2022
“Like George [Russell] before him, who went to Williams before returning to Mercedes, like Charles [Leclerc] who went to Sauber before returning to Ferrari, like Max [Verstappen] and like Sebastian [Vettel, who both raced for Toro Rosso before driving for Red Bull] – they all did a ‘junior’ team before moving up.
“I’m a bit surprised that Oscar thought that first, he was better than Williams. I can understand from a sporting perspective McLaren might be more interesting based on pure on-track results than Williams, but we didn’t expect that after so much support, so much loyalty, they would use that back door to shop around and get what felt like a better contract for them.
“Those are not the values we exhibited.
“This is how I see the story. Of course, we made mistakes, otherwise we wouldn’t be here talking about the topic, but we feel we stayed very true to our commitment, to our values and to our words to Oscar.
“But I would say things happen for a reason. We’re not sharing the same conceptions of things, and perhaps not sharing the same values, so it’s perhaps better this way, to be parting ways.”
While it remains to be seen how Piastri performs in the McLaren car given his arrival into the sport, both Alpine and McLaren are locked in a battle for P4 in this year’s Constructors’ Championship with the French team just 18 points ahead.