McLaren’s search for a driver to replace Daniel Ricciardo on its Formula 1 team has been turbulent, to say the least. The British team sought to sign the reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou from Chip Ganassi Racing. Unbeknownst to McLaren, Ganassi has an option in Palou’s contract to retain his services in 2023. The dispute led to Ganassi filing a civil suit against Palou. Meanwhile, McLaren has moved on to another target, the Alpine F1 team’s reserve driver Oscar Piastri. Now, the Alpine F1 Team is planning to file a lawsuit against its apparently McLaren-bound reserve driver.
According to Reuters, Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer is all but certain that the team will seek compensation in the High Court of Justice in London if Piastri refuses to race for Alpine next season. The French manufacturer’s factory team announced last week that the 21-year-old Australian would replace the departing Fernando Alonso next season. The crux of the potential legal action is that Piastri bluntly stated on social media that he will not drive for Alpine next year.
Alpine has contacted the FIA’s in-house Contract Recognition Board to resolve the dispute of whether Piastri is contractually tied to the team or not. However, the Australian could still choose not to compete in F1 at all in 2023. Szafnauer told Reuters, “Going to the High Court is over 90-percent certain that’s what we’ll do. If the CRB says ‘your license is only valid at Alpine’, and then he [Piastri] says ‘that’s great but I’m never driving for them, I’ll just sit out a year’, then you’ve got to go to the High Court for compensation.”
From Alpine’s point of view, the team would obviously like to be compensated for the millions of dollars spent preparing Piastri for Formula 1. Alpine has subsidized the expenses of his junior single-seater career as well as organized an extensive slate of tests in the team’s F1 cars used in previous seasons. If Oscar Piastri doesn’t race for Alpine in 2023, it is rumored that the team will attempt to sign Daniel Ricciardo to return to the seat he left to join McLaren.