Oscar Piastri had ‘full access to everything at Alpine, including next year’s plans’

Michelle Foster
Oscar Piastri putting on his fireproofs. Monaco May 2022

Alpine reserve driver Oscar Piastri putting on his fireproofs. Monaco May 2022

Still smarting over Oscar Piastri’s decision to join McLaren, Laurent Rossi says Alpine gave the driver “everything” and hid “nothing” about their 2023 plans.

Alpine are having a hard time getting over what they see as Piastri’s defection to McLaren.

Signing him as a junior driver, the team gave him a reserve role for this year’s championship with an eye to putting him in the car – one day.

That day was not originally going to be in 2023, Alpine expecting to re-sign Fernando Alonso as Esteban Ocon’s team-mate.

But when that fell apart, the double former World Champion taking Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin seat, the team announced Piastri only for him to publicly decline as he had already signed a contract with McLaren.

Taking it to Formula 1’s Contract Recognition Board, Alpine were informed they had only had a term sheet with the driver, not a contract, and his deal with McLaren was valid.

Rossi is still hurt as he says Alpine had fully included Piastri in their 2023 plans.

“It is sad because he was one of the family having been with us for almost four years,” the CEO told the Italian edition of Motorsport.com.

“We gave him everything, we had him do something like 3,500 laps this year. He was the F1 driver who did the most kilometres in the year, more than the regular drivers.

“He had full access to everything related to the company, including plans for next year.

“He was developing the car together with the two drivers, so there was nothing hidden.

“Our intention was very clear – it was to make him a future driver, but he decided to use this as an opportunity to have a better contract.”

Alpine have previously stated they were speaking with Williams about a 2023 drive for the Australian, but it was by no means a done deal.

Alpine reserve driver Oscar Piastri looking very serious as he watches the track action. Austria July 2022

It had been reported Alpine had missed a deadline to lock in Piastri for the 2023 season, the team said to have missed the midnight July 31 date given they only learned of Alonso’s departure on  August 1.

Rossi said that is not true.

“No, we never missed the deadline,” he said. “That is completely false.

“Our mistake was to leave the door open in the contract, and it was a mistake of naivety because we didn’t think he would leave – nobody has ever done it before.

“Let’s think about [Max] Verstappen, [George] Russell or [Charles] Leclerc, all of them have gone from a lesser team first.

“Oscar didn’t want to go to Williams because I guess he felt better than that team. It’s a bit presumptuous, to be honest. Russell was at Williams for three years and that doesn’t make him an inferior driver today.”

Following the CRB ruling, Alpine said they would consider releasing Piastri early but have since decided against it.

McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl revealed: “They [Alpine] are still planning to keep going with the programme, as far as I understand, with Oscar until the end of the season. Therefore, there’s no news really.”

Read more: F1 2023 driver line-up: Who is confirmed for next season’s grid?