Fernando Alonso, Oscar Piastri… How Alpine found itself in such a sauce with its drivers

What’s good for Netflix with F1 is that it delivers bedtime stories to him in a set of unused hangars without him having to lift a finger. The latest? The nameless Alpine riot that managed within a few hours to make himself crazy in the eyes of the world with the true-false nomination of Oscar Piastri to replace Fernando Alonso. With this question as a teaser: but how can the French team, 4th in the constructors’ world championship, end up in such a sauce?

The question stirred (and laughed) in the paddocks, and a little more, because Fernando Alonso chose Monday to leave the ship to join Aston Martin, which no one expected, not even his current boss. In the process, Alpine announced late Tuesday 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 is however sure of it (or not) on its Twitter account. After a press conference in which the director of the team, Omar Szafnauer, remained evasive about the identity of Fernando Alonso’s replacement, it surprised everyone a few minutes later that Oscar Piastri was announced as the 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. Doubts remain if we pay attention to the press release, which does not include any statement from the Australian. Only two hours before the refusal of the young driver, who is now legendary on Twitter with more than 367,000 likes, completely ridiculed the French team who thought they had control over their protégé.

“Without my agreement, Alpine F1 issued a press release this afternoon stating that I will drive for them next year. This is false and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not drive for Alpine next year. year”, felt Piastri.

Incompetent or unable to gamble?

How could a group of this size make such a mistake? Announcing a signing that doesn’t exist seems ludicrous, even for Ferrari strategists. It’s like a “Patrick Bruelien” gamble by Omar Szafnauer who knows very well that his protégé is wanted by competing teams, especially McLaren.

“We invested a lot in Oscar, especially to allow 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 are doing all this to prepare him and with the goal of him being a starter in the future. It is not for him to join another team. »

On arrival, the addition is salty for Alpine. Divorce with Oscar Piastri seems inevitable after this planetary humiliation that seems not only fun for F1 fans (cf. the tweet from Mercedes above)… And he now has to find a new driver to join Ocon next year. Rumors of Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo are already swirling. “I don’t think it will be a problem if Daniel is back,” Szafnauer expected on Tuesday. Hope that this time that the principal has heard about that possibility.

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