Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has compared watching the Oscar Piastri drama involving McLaren and Alpine to a Statler and Waldorf skit.
Wolff said while he didn’t know all the details of Piastri’s contract, he believed junior academies needed to be “respected”, and the debacle was a bad look for the sport.
“I have bigger problems than enjoy to sit on the balcony like in The Muppet Show to watch the show pan out in front of my eyes,” he told Motorsport.com.
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“I think it’s important that junior programs are being respected. I think some of the kids should be wary on Twitter what they said about multinational organizations,” he said, referring to Piastri’s public rejection of the announcement. “But I have no insight into the contracts.”
“I believe in karma, I believe in integrity. But I’m not here to judge because as I said, I don’t know the legal situation.”
The Contract Recognition Board will tonight (AEST) meet in Geneva to make a ruling on the validity of contracts Piastri holds with McLaren and Alpine.
Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer is “very confident” the CRB – set up after Michael Schumacher left the Jordan team after one race in 1992 to race for the Benetton squad – would rule in favor of the French squad, while Piastri’s camp believe they will rule in McLaren’s.
McLaren themselves have barely commented throughout the saga.
Speaking to media at the Belgian grand prix, Szafnauer said Piastri signed some kind of contract last November, which the French team were confidant the CRB would find binding.
“I’ve seen both sides of the argument and we’re confident that Oscar signed with us back in November,” he said.
“There are certain things that need to be in the contract and I’m confident they’re in there.”
The dispute has ended up in front of the CRB after Piastri rejected an Alpine announcement he would be driving for the squad in 2023.
Szafnauer said the widely-reported July 31 deadline on Piastri’s contract was “fictitious”.
“It’s not in the contract that he signed – the term of the contract is through 2024 with an option at the end of 23.
“Back in November both sides agreed on a way forward all the way up until 24 but, like I said, on the team side to take up an option (for) 23.
“We definitely held up our end of the bargain.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said Piastri, who drove for the Red Bull-aligned Arden team in junior classes, probably owed Alpine some loyalty.
“If Renault and Alpine have invested into his junior career, it’s because you invest in youth because you’re investing in it for the future, and there has to be an element of loyalty within that,” he said.
“I don’t understand obviously contractually what’s going on there, but for him to be even in a position to think that he doesn’t have to drive for Alpine next year obviously shows there’s something not right.
“Hopefully he’ll get sorted. He’s another great young talent. He drove for the Arden team in Formula 4, Formula Renault, so I know him pretty well.
“He’s a great talent that should be on the grid. Probably there’s been a bit more mess around his debut than there should be.”
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