Formula 1 | Alpine F1: Rossi finally confides in the fiasco with Piastri and Alonso

Formula 1 |  Alpine F1: Rossi finally confides in the fiasco with Piastri and Alonso
Alpine F1: Rossi finally confides (...)

Laurent Rossi, the CEO of Alpine, has remained very silent since Fernando Alonso chose to join Aston Martin F1 and Oscar Piastri said no to the French team, which trained him, to commit to legal way, with McLaren.

The Frenchman finally spoke and delivered his feelings today in Monza, on behalf of the official F1 website.

“We wanted Fernando to continue with us as an endurance rider and/or in the Dakar. We talked about it at length last year. Why did we only offer him two years? option with Oscar. Fernando had a desire to drive longer in F1, which we couldn’t do, or we would have lost Oscar. It didn’t make sense to us. More than likely, we couldn’t either. follow the other conditions that were offered (by Aston Martin).”

“So with Fernando we would have loved to continue. He’s an incredible champion, he’ll go down as a legend of our brand – but it didn’t work out and that’s life. We’ll stay on good terms. He’s a exceptional champion, he is a gentleman, he continues to do a fantastic job for us despite signing for Aston Martin next year. We are sad to part ways but we are still a family. That’s life. That’s a blow to lose a champion, but it happens. Crazy transfer seasons, sometimes they move like that.”

Rossi found Piastri “disappointing”

On the other hand, Rossi admits: “For Oscar, it was not planned. Frankly, it’s disappointing.”

“We kept our commitment to Oscar very quickly, because we exercised our option on November 15, with a contractual document that bound us and placed him as a reservist. km of driving an F1 all year round, and we were going to find him a seat for 2023 and 2024.”

“That’s exactly what we did. We announced him as a reserve the next day. We very quickly came up with a training program and a 5000 km test programme, which started in February alongside Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, it was a serious training program. You drive alongside two F1 drivers, you learn from them.”

“He did 3700km before August. We would have easily gotten the 5000km. We gave him full access to the team, debriefings, technical meetings and he was with me most of the Sundays to follow. the race. Not only was he a reserve, but he would have been the most trained rookie ever. He knew how the team worked, how an F1 driver is supposed to work in the team. We have the impression of having kept our commitments and we have even gone beyond that.”

“We hired a person just to find a place for him [dans une autre équipe], because we wanted to do it right. At the end of April, we found him a place with Williams.”

An almost concrete agreement with Williams

Rossi therefore confirms that, very early on, Alpine F1 had an agreement to run Piastri elsewhere. But when it became clear to Piastri that Alonso would be in the Alpine for 2023 and possibly 2024, the Australian began weighing his options elsewhere on the grid – even though Alpine had the Williams seat on the table. Alpine then became aware that McLaren had made him an offer, the details of which were unclear to Rossi at the time.

“When the Williams opportunity was about to turn into a concrete deal, so much so that the molding of the bucket seats was planned, the management team at Piastri told us: ‘we have a possible opportunity at McLaren’. It was a little disappointing. We thought it was a little odd, as we expected a bit more fidelity considering all that we had invested. He didn’t say he was going to go , he said he had an opportunity.”

“Then we saw in July, the 6th I believe, that [Daniel] Ricciardo confirmed to stay at McLaren for the following year (but Piastri had signed with McLaren on the 4th, editor’s note). So we thought there had been interest, but there wouldn’t be a bucket. There may have been an opportunity at McLaren, but the door is closing, so Oscar is still in the running for us. That explains why we decided to promote it.”

“Othmar [Szafnauer] saw it, told him and we announced it. We never knew for sure that he had signed. He never told us. We still thought the Williams seat was great, a great opportunity to learn with a little less pressure – a very good team to learn from, very seasoned, able to develop talent like George Russell.”

“But we could understand that he was attracted by the prospect of a better sporting challenge. We felt that when we had the chance to offer him a seat, thanks to us, because there was no better option: Ricciardo had to stay.”

“We acted very logically, in line with our commitment to him. From our point of view, it’s a simple and very linear story. We were so committed. I don’t think we could have given a driver more, to be honest.”

“We offered him contracts” which he refused

Alpine F1 was therefore naïve on the contract side, which was confirmed by the CRB. Mistakes that will not be repeated, Rossi agrees. But it reveals other things, which precede all this.

“He never signed any contract that we offered him. We offered contracts several times. They were never signed. Probably because he already had McLaren in mind. We couldn’t. hold back because he hasn’t signed a contract with us. We expected more loyalty.”

“We made mistakes, we made legal technical mistakes. We left the door ajar by not forcing him to sign a contract so strict that he couldn’t get out of it. Why did we do that? is a bit of an oversight because we never would have thought that when you give someone so much, when you give them training, a role as a reserve, a seat in a partner team, they won’t take it after having been supported for so many years and won the championship because of your support.”

“Like Russell before him, who went to Williams before coming back to Mercedes, like Leclerc who went to Sauber before coming back to Ferrari, like Verstappen and like Vettel, who both raced for Toro Rosso before driving for Red Bull – they were all part of a junior team before moving up higher.”

“I’m a little surprised Oscar thought he was better or better than Williams. I can understand from a sporting perspective that McLaren might be more interesting based on pure on-track results than Williams, but we didn’t expect that after so much support, so much loyalty, they would use that backdoor to sign him and get a better contract for them. Those are not the values ​​we have.”

“That’s how I see history. Of course, we made mistakes, otherwise we wouldn’t be here to talk about the subject, but we feel that we have remained very true to our commitment, our values ​​and to our words to Oscar. But I would say that things happen for a reason. We don’t share the same outlook on things, and maybe not the same values, so maybe it’s better that way, to separate. “

Alpine F1 ‘will be careful’ before signing another driver

It remains to be seen who will have the second seat. Can Rossi confide in this subject? Does Pierre Gasly really have a chance? Where will Jack Doohan be promoted?

“We need someone who helps develop the team, who helps develop the car. We need a sufficiently experienced, efficient enough driver who will score points straight away and also take the team with him. These are criteria that we look at.”

“He has to fit into the 100 race plan to win. There will be tough times. I’m not a fool – I know we’re going to have some tough times. The idea is to keep progressing. We’re the fourth force on the grid and our seat is in high demand. We will take our time.”

“We don’t want to rush into the decision. It’s a process that Otmar leads, because he knows what’s best for the team. We take advice from our engineers. The driver is important, but the car is by far the most important.

“There are plenty of good drivers. Helmut Marko mentioned Pierre – why not? He is a very good driver, he would be a good candidate for us.”

“Jack is also in consideration. We believe in him, he has shown a lot of potential, especially lately – he responds at the right time. He is a great person, he is fast, his father is also a champion that I I look up to and someone I look up to. They’re great guys. He’s in our plans. One way or another, we’ll try to get him into an F1 at some point. But again, we’ll be careful this time.”

“As for the timing, we will see what the landscape is by the end of September. We will have more clarity on all the options. By then I guess we will make a choice.”

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