What’s good for Netflix with F1 is that it delivers bedtime stories to her on a set in disused hangars without her having to lift a finger. The latest? The nameless mess at Alpine who managed in the space of a few hours to make a fool of himself in the eyes of the world with the real-false nomination of Oscar Piastri to replace Fernando Alonso. With this question as a teaser: but how could the French team, 4th in the constructors’ world championship, end up in such a sauce?
The question agitates (and laughs) the paddocks, and a little more, since Fernando Alonso chose Monday to leave the ship to join Aston Martin, without anyone expecting it, not even his current employer. In the process, Alpine announced Tuesday at the end of the afternoon Oscar Piastri as the second driver, alongside Esteban Ocon. Before the young Australian immediately denied any agreement with the French manufacturer.
The blue-white-red team was however sure of it (or not) on its Twitter account. After a press conference during which the team’s director, Omar Szafnauer, remained very evasive concerning the identity of Fernando Alonso’s replacement, it was to everyone’s surprise a few minutes later that Oscar Piastri was announced in as a future driver for the 2023 season.
Appointed reserve driver this season, the young Australian F2 champion has been part of the Alpine family since 2019. Doubt remains when we pay attention to the press release, which does not include any statement from the Australian. It only took two hours before the denial of the young driver, now legendary on Twitter with more than 367,000 likes, totally ridiculing the French team who thought they had control over their protege.
“Without my agreement, Alpine F1 issued a press release at the end of the afternoon indicating that I will be driving for them next year. This is false and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year”, stings Piastri.
Incompetence or missed gamble?
How can a team of this stature make such a mistake? Announcing a signature that does not exist seems lunar, even for the strategists at Ferrari. It looks more like a “Patrick Bruelien” gamble by Omar Szafnauer who is well aware that his protege is being courted by competing teams, in particular McLaren.
“We have invested a lot in Oscar, notably allowing him to do several thousand kilometers with last year’s car,” Szafnauer said during his press conference. It’s a financial investment, but also an emotional one, and not all teams do that with their academy riders. We did all this to prepare him and with the objective of making him a starter in the future. Not for him to join another team. »
On arrival, the addition is salty for Alpine. The divorce with Oscar Piastri seems inevitable after this planetary humiliation which does not seem to amuse only F1 fans (cf. the tweet from Mercedes above)… And he now has to find a new driver to accompany Ocon next year. The Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo rumors are already swirling. “I don’t think it would be a problem if Daniel was back,” Szafnauer anticipated on Tuesday. Hoping this time that the principal has been sounded out about this possibility.