- Alpine responsible for all legal costs, including owing UK£120k to Piastri
- CRB upholds McLaren claim that Piastri will drive for them next season
The Alpine Formula One team have been ordered to pay legal costs totalling approximately UK£530,467 (US$609,498) to McLaren Racing and Oscar Piastri by the Contract Recognition Board (CRB), according to RacingNews365.com.
The CRB’s unanimous ruling upheld McLaren’s claim that Piastri will drive for them alongside Lando Norris from next season. Both teams believed they had valid contracts for the Australian from 2023.
Alpine is responsible for all legal costs, including paying a reported UK£229,965 (US$264,226) to McLaren and UK£120,086 (US$137,977) to Piastri, with the arbitrators’ fees ranging from UK£34,000 (US$39,065) to UK£74,400 (US$85,484).
RacingNews365.com adds that an additional UK£16,000 (US$18,383) is required to cover the CRB interests, resulting in total costs of UK£530,467 on top of Alpine’s own costs.
Alpine purportedly believed a 2022/23 ‘terms sheet’ dated November 2021 constituted a valid race contract between the team and Piastri for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.
However, RacingNews365.com states that this was only the ‘intended’ starting point of negotiations, with Alpine chief executive Laurent Rossi telling Piastri’s camp that contracts would be exchanged within ten business days of 15th November 2021.
When the deadline for those was missed, Mark Webber, Piastri’s manager, became frustrated with the process and began conversations with McLaren.
Piastri did have a reserve driver contract lodged with the CRB on 14th March 2022, but this did not feature any extension beyond 31st December for a potential race seat with Alpine.
Instead, Alpine intended for the 21-year-old to head to Williams for next season and potentially 2024. The ‘road map’ also included a break clause allowing Alpine to recall him for the second season, which needed to be activated by 31st July 2023. Piastri may have had to wait until 2025 to drive for Alpine.
That proved unacceptable for Piastri, prompting the Australian to sign a deal with McLaren on 4th July 2022, which kicks in on 1st January 2023 – the day after his reserve deal with Alpine expires and he becomes a free agent.
This brings to a close a particularly messy period for Alpine, which have now lost two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso and 2021 Formula Two champion Piastri. Hierarchical failings appear to be the root cause, with the two drivers pointing out poor communication within the team.
Alpine’s complaints that they have been cheated out of the investments made into Piastri’s junior career perhaps ring hollow considering they were planning on making him wait until potentially 2025 to even drive for them.
Notably, Piastri will be the third former Alpine junior driver to make his debut for a different team in just four years, with Jack Aitken driving one race for Williams in 2020 and Zhou Guanyu going to Alfa Romeo in 2022. Piastri leaving for pastures new is the latest bitter pill for the French outfit to swallow.