SEPTEMBER 26, 2022
Alpine undecided over Piastri legal action
Alpine is looking into whether to pursue legal action against Oscar Piastri.
The Renault-owned team questioned the 21-year-old Australian's integrity after he shunned the Alpine development program and even the prospect of a 2023 race seat with the team in favour of a contract with McLaren.
However, Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi makes clear that he is not angry with McLaren.
"Zak Brown and Andreas Seidl have a responsibility to their team to deliver the best possible performance," he told Auto Motor und Sport.
"We don't agree with what happened, but I can't criticise them for trying to sign the best driver pairing. We don't hold it against McLaren."
The original plan was that Alpine would sign up Fernando Alonso for another year or two and place Australian Piastri at Williams for the time being.
Alonso, though, jumped ship to Aston Martin.
"Since the start of the season we were working on finding him (Piastri) a cockpit for the next two years and we reached an agreement with Williams in Miami," said Rossi.
But with the contract recognition board siding with Piastri and McLaren, Alpine is now looking into whether to pursue the young driver for the costs of their driver development efforts.
"We're checking on that right now," said Rossi. "In the end it is a decision of Otmar and the lawyers.
"For us, it's all about finding a driver and making the car a second faster. But Piastri's behaviour set a dangerous precedent for our sport."
Rossi also defended Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer, amid suggestions he is most directly responsible for the loss of both Alonso and Piastri.
"Otmar is the clear leader of the team and a lot has changed for the better since he's been there," he said. "Bringing him on board was one of our best decisions."
Alpine's clear favourite for the vacant 2023 race seat is Frenchman Pierre Gasly, but that is contingent on Red Bull releasing him from his contract.
Rossi said Alpine does not necessarily need another French driver to accompany Esteban Ocon next year.
"That might be a feature once we've arrived at our destination, but in Spain we sell relatively few cars. We have Fernando because he is one of the best drivers in the world," he said.
Finally, Rossi said he isn't sure if Piastri will be released from his duties early so he can get started at McLaren.
"Otmar will clarify that in conversation with Piastri, McLaren and our lawyers," he said. "Nothing has been decided yet. We will do what is best for us and not for others."