AUGUST 10, 2022
Briatore handwriting all over Piastri saga
Flavio Briatore's "handwriting" is all over the Oscar Piastri affair.
That is the sensational claim of former F1 driver Christian Danner, after Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer admitted some "sharing of information" could indeed have taken place.
The rumour is that Piastri's manager Mark Webber, Aston Martin defector Fernando Alonso and Briatore himself - who was instrumental in both former F1 drivers' careers - put their heads together to engineer Piastri's shock signing by McLaren.
The latest reports suggest the Contract Recognition Board has already approved the McLaren deal, with Piastri's other contract being only with Alpine's driver academy - not the Enstone based F1 team itself.
Szafnauer is furious with 21-year-old Piastri.
"The way I grew up, if I sign something, no one needs to say 'you're lying, because you signed this'. There's no way I would go back on my word," he told El Confidencial.
"I don't need a piece of paper so I can say 'Look at this clause, I can get out of it now'," he charged.
As far as Danner is concerned, "This whole situation has Briatore's handwriting all over it".
"It's classic Flavio," he told Austria's motorsport-magazin.com. "There's probably a Piastri contract that Flavio has skimmed over. I'd say there was definitely a clause."
Danner says it's a clear sign that Briatore sees in Australian Piastri a level of potential on par with Alonso and Michael Schumacher.
"If he believes in someone, he definitely has the foresight to plan in a positive sense. Ruthlessly too, which is logically the case in this business," he said.
"I can imagine Piastri freeing himself from Alpine's grip so he can drive for McLaren for two years and then be free for the big one. That's definitely Briatore's signature," added Danner.
He also thinks Piastri will not be fazed about the level of intrigue surrounding his Formula 1 debut, with Szafnauer already furious about the disloyalty.
"He knows what's coming," Danner said.
"He wants to win and nothing else. The rest doesn't interest him at all. And this Webber-Briatore combination is probably ideal for such people."