Zak Brown attacks Alpine over ‘unpleasant’ claims after Piastri battle
Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo at 2022 McLaren launch
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Zak Brown has accused Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer of making “unpleasant and inaccurate statements” months after the pair battled for Oscar Piastri. McLaren won an FIA Contract Recognition Board (CRB) hearing over the signing of the highly-rated rookie over the summer.
However, Szafnauer claimed Piastri lacked “integrity” by not choosing the French manufacturer. Alpine had announced Piastri had been promoted after Fernando Alonso announced his move to Aston Martin.
But Piastri turned down the opportunity in a social media post after it emerged he had signed a deal with McLaren. The CRB eventually decided his deal with Mclaren was the only valid contract, paving the way for Daniel Ricciardo’s exit.
Brown has also defended Piastri, stressing the former F2 champion was very focussed and determined.
Speaking to KTM Summer Grill, Brown explained: “I saw a lot of that through the turmoil over the summer. You know, he’s a 21-year-old and here you have a big OEM, was making accusations and taking you to court, and then you have to be a pretty tough character as a 21-year-old to be unfazed by that, and he was, and he kept his head down, and I think he’s going to let his driving do his talking.
“He didn’t get into a war of words, even though Otmar said some very unpleasant and inaccurate statements. You know, Oscar didn’t rise to that. So what I see is a very focused, determined, mature 21-year-old. That’s what I see out of the car, and in the car, we see the same thing and we see that he’s very fast.”
Szafnauer has suggested Piastri was told about his promotion to F1 in a private discussion after a simulator session. However, Piastri has questioned this, claiming it was a “bizarre” episode in front of some members of the team.
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Szafnauer had previously hinted Alpine were confident of holding onto their youngster before the case was lost. Brown then claimed Szafnauer looked “a little silly” after the outcome was delivered.
He added: “If you look at all of the comments by Otmar he was giving a little play-by-play of the CRB and how confident they were, and now I think he looks a little silly. That’s why it’s best to keep your mouth shut, and we can talk about it after the fact when there’s something concrete to say.”
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