Oscar Piastri not feeling added pressure from Alpine switch fallout

Sam Cooper
McLaren driver Oscar Piastri at Abu Dhabi testing. Yas Marina, November 2022.

McLaren's Oscar Piastri at Abu Dhabi testing. Yas Marina, November 2022.

Oscar Piastri says he does not feel any added pressure despite the nature of his departure from former team Alpine.

The young Australian, who is now weeks away from his F1 debut, became the author of a viral tweet last summer when he announced he would not be racing for Alpine as originally thought.

Piastri was one of the many dominoes to fall in a typical ‘silly season’ period which was triggered by Sebastian Vettel’s retirement and a spot opening up at the German’s now former team Aston Martin.

Another World Champion, Fernando Alonso, agreed to take Vettel’s place which left Alpine scrambling to secure their 2023 line-up.

They announced in the morning that Piastri, who had been part of the Renault Academy since January 2020, would be stepping up from a reserve driver role to partner Esteban Ocon but Piastri took to Twitter the same day to reveal that was not the case.

“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,” Piastri 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’s future was eventually decided in front of the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board, who ruled that the Australian was within his rights to make the switch to McLaren and now as he enters his rookie F1 season, and following some choice comments from the Alpine hierarchy, it would appear the 21-year-old has extra pressure on his shoulders.

He disagrees though, believing that the results of his junior career had already put a considerable amount of expectation on him.

“I don’t think so, no,” Piastri replied when asked by PlanetF1.com if the Alpine issue had made him feel any more pressure.

“I think for me, my objectives and sort of goals for myself haven’t haven’t changed in any way. I think, regardless of how that ended last year, I think there’s probably an outside expectation with the junior career that I’ve had as well .

“So I think there’s a bit of expectation from a few angles, but I don’t think that [the Alpine fallout] adds to it.”

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Since Piastri left Alpine, some higher-ups at the French squad have not been backward in speaking out about what they thought of the matter. Both team principal Otmar Szafnaur and CEO Laurent Rossi have criticised Piastri for what they perceived to be a lack of loyalty.

His new boss, Zak Brown, believes Piastri has been shown to be loyal and did as he was in his rights to do.

“I spent my first part of getting to know him obviously through the middle of last year,” Brown told media including PlanetF1.com.

“And I thought the way he conducted himself in light of what were inappropriate and inaccurate accusations around his loyalty, which [it] is now proven he was fully within his right to look after his career and sign with McLaren, that would be a lot of pressure to put on a young driver.

“I thought the way he carried himself [last summer], what we’ve seen is that’s how he carries himself in his kind of day to day business. Very focused, very inquisitive, very calm.”