Formula 1

F1’s biggest feud takes another twist: Alpine threaten High Court action over Piastri deal

An infamous F1 villain has been named in connection with the ongoing Oscar Piastri contract saga at Alpine. Piastri’s future is uncertain following Fernando Alonso’s announcement that he will leave Alpine for Aston Martin next season. Alpine quickly announced that long-time junior prospect Piastri would replace Alonso in 2023, only for Piastri to publicly reject their statement. Alpine believes Piastri’s contract with them will force him to race for them next year, despite the fact that the young Australian has also signed a deal to replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren. According to Auto Hebdo of France, F1’s Contract Recognition Board this week determined that Piastri’s Alpine and McLaren contracts are both valid. Alpine is now threatening to sue Piastri and McLaren for compensation for their massive investment in Piastri’s years of training – and Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer’s audacious claims don’t stop there. On Kayo, you can watch every practice, qualifying, and race of the 2022 FIA Formula One World ChampionshipTM live. Are you new to Kayo? Begin your free trial today > ‘I expected more loyalty… it’s about integrity,’ says Alpine boss as he brutally sprays Piastri. Fernando Alonso (left) and Nelson Piquet Jr (right) pose with team boss Flavio Briatore (center) ahead of the 2008 Formula One season… a year that would end in dramatic controversy. News Limited is the source. “We’re more than 90% certain we’ll go to the High Court,” Szafnauer told Reuters. “If the CRB (Contract Recognition Board) says, ‘Your license is only valid at Alpine,’ and he (Piastri) says, ‘That’s great, but I’ll never drive for them, I’ll just sit out a year,’ you have to go to the High Court for compensation.” The Alpine manager also suggested that Piastri’s manager Mark Webber, Alonso, and his manager Flavio Briatore were involved. Alpine’s big Piastri admission as Aussie rising star’s F1 standoff takes another twist: Pit Talk Costly Dan snub won’t change team’s grim reality; giant tops ‘wildest dreams’: F1 report card Daniel Ricciardo seeking eye-watering payout as ugly McLaren exit nears Briatore is one of the most controversial figures in F1, due to his renegade management of the Enstone squad now known as Alpine, having spent years overseeing the team in its former guises as Benetton and Renault. He also managed Mark Webber at one point and remains close to his former charge, while he continues to manage Alonso. “Look, I have no record of it, but this is Formula 1 and maybe in a couple of years someone says that they have evidence of shared information, I would not be surprised,” Szafnauer said. “I always tell everyone that in Formula 1 you have to act as if everyone knows everything. That there are no secrets in these things. When you ask someone not to say anything, they act like everyone knows.“ That’s how I’ve run my business in Formula 1 for 25 years. And if this (information sharing) has happened, you should not be surprised.” Mark Webber and his then-manager Flavio Briatore at the Australian GP in 2007. Source: News Corp Australia Christian Danner, a German F1 driver from the late-1980s who is now a pundit in his native country, also declared Piastri’s actions bear Briatore’s trademark. “It’s classic Flavio. There was certainly a (Alpine) contract for Piastri that Flavio has skimmed over … there was definitely a clause,” Danner told Motorsport Magazin. “When he believes in someone, he has the foresight to plan in a positive sense – and not just ruthlessly, which is logically the case in this business.“ I could imagine Piastri (using Briatore) to free himself from Alpine’s grip, so that he can hopefully drive for McLaren for the next two years and then be free for a big deal.“ That definitely has Briatore’s signature. “It can all go wrong, of course, but if it works out, then he (Briatore) has done everything right.” Ricciardo set to be replaced by Piastri | 00:32 72-year-old Briatore’s Renault team was charged with race fixing in 2008 at the Singapore Grand Prix, after their driver Nelson Piquet Jr. claimed he had been ordered to deliberately crash his car. Teammate Fernando Alonso had just pitted, and the resulting safety car helped him go on to win the race. Briatore and Renault engineering chief Pat Symonds were both indefinitely banned from all elite motorsport categories before a French court later overruled the ruling. It wasn’t the only Briatore scandal, with his Benetton team in 1991 remarkably sacking driver Roberto Moreno in order to sign Michael Schumacher after his debut race. Moreno successfully appealed to a court – which found his contract was valid – but was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to leave the team and allow Schumacher to join. The young Schumacher would subsequently win his maiden title at the Benetton franchise.