In the wake of Aston Martin announcing it had signed Fernando Alonso for 2023 earlier this month, Alpine issued a statement saying reserve driver Piastri would step up to a race seat next year.
But the announcement was made without any quotes from Piastri, who later issued a statement on social media denying he had signed a contract or would race for Alpine next year. Piastri is understood to have a deal in place with McLaren, who confirmed Daniel Ricciardo’s exit earlier this week.
Speaking on Saturday at Spa about the Piastri announcement, Szafnauer claimed he went and told the reigning F2 champion about his promotion during a simulator run on the Monday after the Hungarian Grand Prix.
“I told Oscar before the announcement was made,” Szafnauer said.
“He happened to be in the simulator, so I went and found him, and he smiled and was thankful. We made the release very quickly.”
Szafnauer added the press release came without any quotes from Piastri because the team “reacted quickly and didn’t want to go back and forth with his management”.
Asked how he found out Piastri would not race for Alpine next year, Szafnauer replied: “We heard through social media.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal, Alpine F1
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images
F1’s Contract Recognition Board (CRB) is set to rule on the Piastri case on Monday. Szafnauer expressed confidence that Alpine’s contract would hold up, revealing an agreement was put in place as far back as last November.
“The term of the contract is through 2024 with an option at the end of ’23,” Szafnauer said. “I’ll just say those things, there’s a lot more in it. As I said, I don’t really like to talk about the specifics.”
Szafnauer felt it was disappointing that Piastri was not delivering on his “promise” to race for the team if offered the chance, but said their relationship “hasn’t wavered”.
Piastri is not on site with Alpine in Spa as originally planned, instead completing simulator duties back at the team’s Enstone factory.
Following the CRB ruling on Monday, Szafnauer said that Alpine would then evaluate its options and “start looking at who will fill the open seat” for 2023.
“The good news is we’ve got three races in a row now,” Szafnauer said.
“I think we should wait for Monday or Tuesday, and then thereafter look at our situation having good information to make those decisions.”