Otmar Szafnauer believes Alpine have learned their lessons from the Oscar Piastri contract saga that ended with their highly prized junior jumping ship to McLaren.
Alpine enter 2023 with an all-French lineup through Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, but only after they were snubbed twice by, first by Piastri and then Fernando Alonso.
Szafnauer was furious with Piastri and at the time accused the Australian of lacking integrity, and Alpine fired their legal director in November 2022 following the fiasco.
“Species that cooperate survive. Species that are selfish become extinct,” Szafnauer told the press. “In the future, we will treasure these lessons and make sure that we eliminate the loopholes that allowed Oscar to get out of the contract we thought we had with him.”
Alpine had planned to get Piastri a seat in another team for 2023, such as Williams, then move Alonso to their sports cars programme for 2024 and promote Piastri to the team to replace him.
However, Alonso moved to Aston Martin and Piastri had a loophole in his contract that meant he could sign with McLaren instead, much to the chagrin of Szafnauer.
“What happened in the summer was not what we had planned in December 2021,” Szafnauer said. “We can say that we should have done things differently so that the plan to promote Oscar would actually have been realised.
Who’s left in the Alpine Academy?
The Renault Academy was relaunched when the constructor returned to F1 in 2016, but it’s so far failed to deliver a driver to F1 for the Enstone team.
Jack Aitken, Christian Lungaard and Zhou Guanyu were all highly rated prospects that slipped the net, but Piastri was the crown jewel. He won an unprecedented triple of Formula Renault Eurocup, F3 and F2 in three successive seasons, and was expected to be the face of Alpine in F1 for the second half of the 2020s.
Jack Doohan, who finished sixth in his debut F2 campaign in 2022, is the closest to an F1 seat right now. He’s competing alongside Victor Martins in F2 in 2023.
But Martins could be the next star – he’s also won Formula Renault Eurocup and F3, and lines up with the experienced ART GP team for F2.
Brazilian Caio Collet and Brit Olli Caldwell are also in the academy but trail behind Martins and Doohan in the pecking order currently.