Alpine Formula 1 team boss Otmar Szafnauer looks “a little silly” after his failed bid to prove his team had a valid contract with Oscar Piastri for 2023, according to McLaren CEO Zak Brown.
Earlier this month the Contract Recognition Commission decided that current Alpine reserve driver Piastri will race for McLaren from 2023 after Alpine challenged the validity of Piastri’s contract with McLaren.
Exactly one month passed between Alpine’s announcement of Piastri as Fernando Alonso’s replacement for Aston Martin and the CRB’s decision that the team was not eligible to do so on September 12.
Throughout this month, Szafnauer has insisted that Alpine has a valid contract with Piastri for 2023 and even cited his former team BAR-Honda’s triumph over Williams when the two teams argued over Jenson. Button in the mid-2000s as proof of why Piastri could still race for Alpine following the team’s CRB victory.
Szafnauer has also repeatedly claimed that Piastri signed a deal last November that gave Alpine the right to run Piastri for the team next year.
Alpine ultimately lost the CRB case as it was found that the team was not entitled to Piastri’s services for 2023.
Alpine’s approach to speaking publicly about its confidence in the CRB win was in stark contrast to that taken by McLaren, who would not confirm that Piastri would replace Daniel Ricciardo even when the team announced it would part ways with Ricciardo. end of 2022.
“It was very loud, but we really didn’t comment on it. I think it was best to just let things play out and give some color afterwards,” McLaren CEO Brown, pictured below with Alpine’s Laurent Rossi, told NBC Sports.
“If you look at all of Otmar’s comments, he was giving a little insight into the CRB and his confidence, and now I think he looks a bit silly.
“That’s why it’s better to keep quiet, and we can talk about it after the fact when there’s something concrete to say.”
Brown said McLaren was happy with his approach in preparing for the CRB hearing, as he was confident the board would rule in his favor and the truth would be public.
“Before people saw the CRB decision, they didn’t know what they didn’t know, and we deliberately kept our mouths shut,” Brown explained.
“Now that this decision has been rendered in detail, it is clear what happened there. We recognized there was a lot of noise, but we knew the truth would eventually come out, and we just need to take it out rather than giving a running comment.
“So at the time, I was not oblivious to the noise and some of the direct message notes that I received from fans.
“But now we’re very comfortable that the CRB is out, and it’s very clear there, and I’m sure we’re going to fix that here shortly.”
Brown was speaking during the IndyCar Final at Laguna Seca, which could have been 2021 IndyCar champion Alex Palou’s last race before he joins McLaren in 2023.
That’s if another contract dispute with current Palou team Chip Ganassi Racing – a disagreement that has yet to be resolved – turns in McLaren’s favor.
Those talks are now in the second round of mediation — a second attempt at talks to avoid the case going to federal court.
“It worked really well in Formula 1. It was a one-day hearing,” Brown said, when asked if IndyCar needed its own CRB.
“[We] returned [the decision] in the same week. It was unanimous. The CRB has only been tested three times in its existence, and I think this is the first time of this situation in IndyCar.
“So, I don’t know if you need it because something is happening. Another may not happen for another 20 years, but CRB has worked well in Formula 1.”
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