McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl says criticism of Oscar Piastri was “inappropriate and unfair” in the wake of the Australian’s decision to turn his back on Alpine.
Piastri has been confirmed as Daniel Ricciardo’s replacement at the Woking-based team, but only after a tug-of-war with Alpine, which claimed he had the 21-year-old under contract.
Piastri was heavily criticized for what was perceived as a lack of loyalty to Alpine, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff saying the case set a bad precedent, while Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer questioned Piastri’s integrity.
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The Contract Review Board (CRB) ultimately ruled in McLaren’s favour, exposing the shambolic situation at Alpine, which totally mismanaged Piastri’s contract situation.
Seidl says confirmation that Piastri was a free agent when he signed the McLaren deal puts the Australian in the clear.
“It’s good in the end the facts are out, and it’s good that you guys have seen the verdict as well,” he said, per Motorsport.com.
“Therefore, everyone can read this and make up their own conclusion, which is a pretty clear case, and also corrects some of the judgments that have been inappropriate and unfair regarding Oscar.
“Now our focus is simply to finish the season together with Daniel, and then we look forward to get going with Oscar, who is a huge talent, and has a lot of potential.
“At the same time, we know there’s a lot of work ahead of us together with him going into his first season of F1, but we are looking forward to that.”
Ricciardo was dumped by McLaren in favor of Piastri, despite having another year to run on his contract. He confirmed that he spoke about the situation with Piastri’s manager, fellow Australian Mark Webber, at the recent Dutch Grand Prix, noting that there’s no hard feelings between the pair.
“We obviously hadn’t seen each other in person (since it all started),” Ricciardo said.
“I feel he didn’t need to, but he felt like he wanted to, in a way, apologise and try to just see how I’m doing.
“Obviously I know how this sport is. It’s nothing personal to me. And he wanted to make sure that I knew that and understood that. And just to make sure that I felt okay.
“He feels really bad, obviously, [in] how it’s gone down and obviously how things have been put out there in the media. So yeah, it was obviously nice to speak to him.”
Ricciardo also revealed he’d called Piastri to make ensure the younger driver didn’t feel uneasy about replacing a fellow Australian.
“I’ve also spoken to Oscar, to be honest, and just made sure that there’s no bad feelings there. I understand how this works,” Ricciardo explained.
“He’s trying to make it, he’s trying to get into Formula 1. And this moment should be also really big for him. I don’t want to make it a bad situation for him.
“That’s that: it’s nothing personal. So that’s all the conversation was. And I truly do wish him well. I want him to have a good run in Formula 1.
“If there’s no communication, you never know what someone’s feeling or thinking. Obviously he’s a lot younger than me. I don’t know how he feels: if he’s nervous to reach out and see how I’m doing.
“Also, I wanted to make sure that it was clear that I understand his position. And absolutely no hard feelings.
“So that was good. I think it made him feel better. And yeah, I think the last thing he wanted was to have some weird tension between a few of the only Australians in this sport. So I’m glad that we’ve done that.”
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