Otmar Szafnauer – Alpine’s team principal – believes that Pierre Gasly could prove a better addition to the team than Oscar Piastri would have been.
This statement comes after months of uncertainty surrounding Piastri’s future, with Alpine fighting to secure the 21-year-old’s services for 2023.
Alpine prematurely announced Piastri’s ‘promotion’ from the academy to the main team, which warranted a public rejection of this claim by Piastri on social media.
The Australian clarified that he already agreed to a contract with another team for the 2023 season, with reports revealing that this agreement was with McLaren.
Piastri’s contractual situation eventually went to the CRB [Contract Recognition Board]which ruled in McLaren’s favor and upheld the contract between the two parties.
Despite losing out on Piastri’s services, Szafnauer told the media in Abu Dhabi that Alpine is pleased with the outcome:
“I’m happy that our driver paired with Esteban [Ocon] and Pierre [Gasly] is better than it would have been if we had won the case.
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The Alpine boss outlined the assets that Gasly brings to the team, highlighting the positives of the Frenchman’s arrival:
“[Gasly is] more experienced, still young and – time will tell – but I think faster…
“I’m happy with our driver pairing, but ask me that next year at this point, and I’ll answer for you.”
Szafnauer would never admit publicly that Pierre Gasly is a downgrade on Oscar Piastri, so it is unsurprising that he is praising the team’s new signing.
However, it is difficult for Szafnauer to depict Alpine as the victors in this situation, considering they spent significant resources trying to keep Piastri in the team.
Alpine was willing to fight for the 21-year-old’s position even though he publicly rejected the team’s advances, indicating how valuable the team perceived him.
In any case, Alpine has the opportunity to put this nightmarish transfer saga in the past by progressing up the field next season.