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Oscar Piastri has blamed a “lack of clarity” over his future at Alpine for his decision to move to McLaren for the 2023 season. The ugly saga was finally settled this week, when the FIA ruled that the young Australian was free to switch teams at the end of 2022, despite Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer publicly claiming to the contrary.
Indeed, things have turned ugly ever since it became clear that Piastri had reached a deal with McLaren, following their decision to release Daniel Ricciardo early from his contract. Alpine had initially ‘confirmed’ the highly rated Australian as their replacement for the departing Fernando Alonso.
However, the former Formula 2 and Formula 3 champion brutally denied that notion in a dramatic Twitter post, and later claimed his team had missed the cut-off point to trigger a contract clause to keep him for 2023. He’ll remain a reserve driver for Szafnauer’s team for the remainder of this campaign, and has vowed to remain professional despite the inevitable tension.
But speaking to the official F1 website, the 21-year-old has fired a shot at Alpine bosses, whilst also lauding Zab Brown’s team for their offer. And he claims he has made the best decision for his future.
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“The lack of clarity around my future, and ultimately a breakdown in trust, I felt the very attractive offer of McLaren and the positive dealings with them thus far were all reasons why I felt McLaren was where I was best off for the future.”
However, there is likely to be increased scrutiny on the Melbourne man when he lines up for his maiden F1 Grand Prix next year, given the furore that has preceded his move. And the divisive episode has led to one former world champion questioning if he can be trusted to behave with integrity in future.
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“This one is fun to watch because it just surprised everyone,” Jacques Villeneuve told Reuters. “To start like that with that kind of pressure is not easy. It brings your name into question that whenever a team or sponsor will sign a deal with you there will always be this question, umm how will we be treated?”
However, the Melbourne man has also received high-profile support from other F1 legends, with Ralf Schumacher berating Szafnauer and co for their behaviour during the divisive episode: “When you have such a jewel, it’s criminal to let him go. If you’re then unable to get the contracts right yourself, you can’t blame the young man,” he said.
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