Alpine is prepared for a legal battle: Team’s principal Otmar Szafnauer on contractual feud with Oscar Piastri

Alpine named highly-rated Piastri last week as replacement for double world champion Fernando Alonso in their 2023 lineup but the 21-year-old immediately ruled out the possibilities.

Aakash SrivastavaAuthor

Updated - 09 August 2022 02:20 PM

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The tussle between Renault-owned Alpine and its reserve driver Oscar Piastri is getting intense every day as fresh reports have suggested that the motorsports company might seek millions in compensation at the high court if their Australian reserve driver refuses to race for them next season. Alpine named highly-rated Piastri last week as a replacement for double world champion Fernando Alonso in their 2023 lineup but the 21-year-old immediately ruled out the possibilities and claimed that he will not continue with the Alpine next season.

McLaren who are fighting Alpine for fourth in the championship, have reportedly told Daniel Ricciardo he is being dropped for Piastri. Formula One team’s principal Otmar Szafnauer has recently claimed that all the incidents in Paris indicated that Alpine were prepared for a legal battle once the sport's August break was over. "Going to the high court is over 90 per cent certain that's what we will do," he told Reuters on Monday. The American further informed that he contracted recognition board (CRB) last week but that avenue might not be sufficient.

"If the CRB says you license is only valid at Alpine,' and Piastri decides to sit out but not race for Alpine, then you have to go to the high court for compensation," said Szafnauer. Reportedly Alpine has invested heavily in preparing for F1, with independent tests and thousands of kilometers in last year's car including one at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. "We haven't sat down with the accountants to figure out everything we have spent. We will have to do that if we go to the high court," added Szafnauer.

He further claimed that Piastri had signed heads of terms agreement with Alpine in November last year which set out the path to a 2023 race debut. The deal included the possibility of being loaned to another team for a year, the legal argument will likely revolve around potential loopholes.

Piastri had looked set for a year at tail-enders Williams before Alonso, shocked everyone with their sudden announcement of joining Aston Martin, and sent the driver market into a spin. Szafnauer said he understood Alonso’s reasoning, with the money and length of contract likely key factors for the 41-year-old Spaniard.

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