Alpine boss lands low blow to Fernando Alonso amidst bitter exit – “I keep my word, that’s what my father taught me”

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso recently announced that he will be racing for Aston Martin next year.

Seen as the final phase of ‘El Plan‘, Alonso surprised his current employers Alpine with the timing of his decision and team boss Otmar Szafnauer admitted that he only found out about it through social media.

The entire possibility of Alonso switching teams came from Sebastian Vettel’s decision to retire. But, it was later reported that the Spaniard had been in touch with Aston Martin far before that and may have even led to Vettel making a hasty decision.

Alpine’s fortunes have declined significantly in the past week, with reserve driver Oscar Piastri also turning his back on the team in a bid to take fellow countryman Daniel Ricciardo’s position at McLaren.

The team had even made a social media announcement regarding Piastri’s promotion, only for the rookie to respond by denying it altogether and stating categorically that he will not race for them.

Szafnauer was far from impressed with what he saw and was vocal in his criticism.

“I believe that I am a man of integrity and that if I commit to something, I will do everything I can to make it happen,” Szafnauer said.

“I keep my word, it’s the way I’ve grown up, that my father passed on to me.

“But hey, I’ve understood that not everyone does things the same way.”

Alonso may well have been tempted by a more lucrative contract offered by Aston Martin, but the main element of contention was believed to be the length of the deal initially offered by Alpine.

It was rumoured that Alpine had offered the 41-year-old an extension of only a solitary year.

Alonso was looking for a longer tenure and that’s where Aston Martin promptly met his demands.

What was Alpine offering Alonso?

Fernando Alonso. Credit:
Fernando Alonso. Credit:

However, Szafnauer has explained the details of the deal that was on the table for Alonso.

“A two-year contract, although it was one plus one. I think one of the keys for Fernando was the extension of the contract,” he said.

“He’s performing at a very high level and I told him that if he continued at that level, next year we would surely continue, we would be crazy not doing it. 

“But, as for everyone in life, there comes a time when age affects your psychological abilities, your eyes, your brain, your muscles, your nervous system.

“We offered him more money than we paid him now, which is logical. It was a figure that at the beginning he tried to negotiate, as everyone does, but in the end we reached an agreement, formally. 

“I’ve heard rumours that he’s been given a very high offer. I don’t know if it has been a decisive factor – ask him.”

With regard to Piastri, Szafnauer said that he could still feature for Alpine and that the deal with McLaren was far from settled.

“This is not final yet, it has yet to be decided,” he said.

Alpine has opted for legal help

Oscar Piastri. Credit:

He further argued that legal help has already been sought by Alpine to help with the situation.

“We have a contract with Piastri, which he signed in November, we have spoken to our lawyers,” he said.

“They have told us that this is a binding contract, so part of that contract allows us to ride Oscar in one of our cars in 2023, which is nothing more than the reason we issued the press release.

“There is also an option for 2024 and the possibility for us to ‘lend’ the driver to another team. We wanted Fernando with us for another year and then a ‘loan’ from Oscar for 2023.

“I have always said it in all my press conferences, that Piastri would be in Formula 1 in 2023 and it is because I knew he could be in our car or in another, on loan, if Fernando had stayed. 

“But Alonso, for whatever reason – and I think I know the reasons, although you should ask him – is going to Aston Martin.

“So, we started to finalise the agreement with Piastri, and instead of giving it up, we decided to put him in our car.

“The strategic plan is very good and Piastri knows it. Better even than McLaren’s. 

“We have supported him. There should be some loyalty to the fact that we have invested literally millions and millions of euros to prepare him. So I don’t understand it either, you should ask him.

“We had a contract with Piastri and we have to understand where it takes us legally. We believe, and that is why we issued the statement, that we have a binding contract. Let’s spend some time studying where this takes us. 

“And if Piastri isn’t in the car – which I think he’s going to be – because Fernando is out, I have 14 phone calls from drivers who are interested, because the Alpine seat is the most valuable one left.”

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