The Alpine Formula 1 team is adamant that its contract with Oscar Piastri for 2023 is legally watertight, despite the Australian insisting he will not drive for the Enstone team.
In the wake of Fernando Alonso’s shock decision to sign for Aston Martin for next year, the Alpine squad moved quickly to take up a contract that it believes it has with its reserve driver Piastri.
It announced the deal on Tuesday afternoon, the day after it discovered that Alonso would be leaving at the end of the campaign.
However, a few hours after Alpine’s announcement, Piastri took to social media to insist that he had not signed anything with the team and would not be racing for it in 2023.
“I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine F1 have put out a press release late this afternoon that I am driving for them next year,” Piastri wrote.
“This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year.”
It is understood that his comments come in the wake of a push that Piastri and his management have made to secure a seat at McLaren for next year.
There have been suggestions that the youngster may even have a pre-contract in place with McLaren which meant that if options lapsed at Alpine, then he would commit to joining the Woking-based squad.
It is widely understood that as part of his long-term deal with Alpine, it needed to guarantee Piastri an F1 race seat for 2023 by a certain date if he was to stay under contract.
Key to the matter now will be whether such a date came in to play and there was a window where Alpine’s rights lapsed.
But despite Piastri’s statement and his clear belief that he will not be racing for it in 2023, it is understood that Alpine is adamant it is on firm legal grounds with its contract.
It means that, if there does end up being a dispute between Piastri and another team, then it could need to be settled by Formula 1’s Contracts Recognition Board.
The body made up of independent lawyers will then read through the terms of the contracts that Piastri has and determine who has rights to him for next year.
Speaking ahead of the Piastri announcement on Tuesday, team principal Otmar Szafnauer said he had no doubts that Alpine had the right to his services for next year.
“We do have the right to take him,” he said. “We have priority."