Alpine would look to prevent ‘loopholes’, like the one found in Oscar Piastri’s Alpine agreement, from occurring again in future driver contracts.
After the announcement in July that Sebastian Vettel would be retiring at the end of the season, Fernando Alonso elected to transfer from Alpine and sign for Aston Martin to replace his fellow World Champion.
This opened up a seat alongside Esteban Ocon, with Alpine planning to promote reserve driver Piastri to make his Grand Prix debut in 2023.
However, as the team had not offered him a concrete race drive with them, the 2021 Formula 2 champion looked elsewhere and signed with McLaren, publicly rejecting Alpine’s promotion on social media.
Szafnauer: We should have done things differently
As RacingNews365.com would later exclusively reveal in the Contract Recognition Board’s ruling, failures on Alpine’s side meant Piastri did not have a contract in place beyond his 2022 reserve driver roles – and so he was clear to replace compatriot Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren.
In the end, Alpine plumped for Pierre Gasly to replace Alonso in an all-French line-up, with Szafnauer admitting he’d have done things differently with Piastri.
“What transpired over the summer isn’t what we had planned back in December ,” Szafnauer explained to media, including RacingNews365.com.
“So, because it is not what we had planned, it’s safe to say we should have done things differently, so that the plan [to promote Piastri] would have actually come to fruition.
“In the future, if we do this again, we will take those learnings and make sue that the loopholes that were there to allow Oscar to get out of the contract we thought we had with him.
“It should be tighter, and maybe the timing should be different, so there are learnings [from it.]”
Alpine remain committed to driver programme
With the exception of Zhou Guanyu, who races for Alfa Romeo, and Piastri from the begin of 2023, the Alpine driver academy has been slow in offering opportunities to graduate to F1 when compared with the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams.
Despite the setback in losing Piastri, Szafnauer is firm that the team remains committed to its Academy, with Jack Doohan replacing Piastri as the next-in-line.
“Species that collaborate, survive. Species that are selfish, perish,” said Szafnauer when asked about what he learned about paddock politics during the saga.
“At the time, Laurent [Rossi] said that we’ve got to reconsider if we spend this money and drivers get to a certain spot and they want to go elsewhere.
“It was something we looked at but we’re definitely committed to the young driver programme and Alpine Academy.”