Exclusive: CRB decision details Alpine's failures in handling Piastri contract |  RacingNews365

Exclusive: CRB decision details Alpine’s failures in handling Piastri contract | RacingNews365

The Contract Recognition Board decision in the Oscar Piastri McLaren v Alpine case detailed how numerous failings on the part of the latter led Piastri to seek a Formula 1 racing seat elsewhere.

The unanimous CRB decision was announced on Friday, confirming McLaren’s claim to the 2021 Formula 2 champion on a two-year deal with partner Lando Norris from the 2023 campaign.

Alpine has accepted the decision and will not appeal the decision after losing a driver, it has spent time and resources developing an F1 racing seat.

However, as RacingNews365 wrote in August, Piastri had never signed a document with Alpine for a 2023 F1 racing seat, which was confirmed by the CRB decision.

Two contracts for Piastri

In the decision, arbitrators Ian Hunter QC, Stefano Azzali, Professor Klaus Peter Berger and Matthieu de Boisseson all found that Alpine had separate contracts for Piastri for his duties as a reserve driver in 2022 and a potential race seat in 23, but frustrating repeated delays. his manager, Mark Webber.

Alpine believed that a 2022/23 “term sheet” dated November 2021 constituted a “valid contract between Piastri and Alpine for the purposes of a racing driver role in the 2023 and 2024 F1 seasons”, includes RacingNews365.com .

However, this was only the “planned” starting point for negotiations, with the Piastri camp being told by Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi that the contracts would be exchanged within 10 working days of November 15, 2021.

This delay came and went, with Webber becoming frustrated that Alpine was not sending the documents, telling Director of Legal Affairs Benedicte Mercer that “there are so many times [I] can tell Mr. Piastri and his father that ‘it’s coming'”.

In response to this, Mercer said she was “the bottleneck” due to a lack of legal resources within the team.

After nothing happened in January, Mercer wrote to Webber in February 2022 stating that she felt like, “I’m in the spin cycle of a washing machine” and that “things should calm down post-launch – which means I can pick things up properly where I left off on Oscar’s contract.”

In March 2022, days before the Bahrain Grand Prix season opener, Piastri did not have a contract with Alpine – neither for his 2022 reserve driver duties nor for a racing seat.

The reserve driver draft was sent to the Piastri camp on March 4, with Alpine hoping to send out the F1 racing seat contract the following week.

												© XPBimages

© XPBimages

Alpine forces Piastri away

That standby agreement was filed with the CRB on March 14, but included no extension beyond December 31 for a potential race seat with Alpine.

Piastri received that contract through his lawyers on March 15, with Mercer saying it was “an emergency measure” with the season starting just four days later, and no reserve driver deal. in place.

Without a contract in place, Piastri could not obtain a super license for his reserve position, which Mercer was aware of.

With no other option, she was forced to treat the November 2021 term sheet as a binding contract, adding the words “Legally Binding Terms” to the document. This sentence was not present on the original document sent to Piastri the previous year.

The CRB concluded that “whether Ms. Mercer genuinely believed the term sheet was legally binding, that is not for us to say.”

On May 19, Alpine sent a document to Piastri titled “Oscar Piastri Proposal 2023/2026”, detailing its F1 plans over a four-year period.

The ‘roadmap’ called for a season at Williams in 2023 with the intention of staying there in 2024, but with a break clause from the Alpine side to recall him for the second season, to be activated by July 31, 2023.

From 2025, Piastri was to be at Alpine full-time, meaning he potentially would have had to wait until then to make his racing debut with the Enstone-based team.

Such a wait was intolerable for the Piastri camp, who then decided to explore options away from Alpine for a 2023 F1 racing seat.

On June 3, Piastri signed a “conduct agreement” with McLaren – dependent on the rights to Piastri’s services, with the other companies “no longer in effect”.

Piastri signed his McLaren racing contract on July 4 – the day after the British GP – effective January 1, 2023 – the day after Piastri’s reserve driver contract with Alpine for 2022 expires and he becomes an agent free.

The McLaren contract is considered “valid and binding” while Alpine has never signed anything with Piastri after 2022.

Alpine will pay the legal costs

The CRB also ruled that Alpine was responsible for the legal costs of all parties involved in the case, including McLaren, Piastri himself and board members.

The team are to pay £229,965.00 to McLaren, £120,086.14 to Piastri, with referees’ fees ranging from £34,000 to £74,400.

An additional £16,000 must be paid to cover CRB interest, meaning Alpine is liable for a total of £530 GBP 467.14 in legal fees, in addition to its own costs.

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