FIA hearing over the contract dispute of Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri between Alpine and McLaren got underway on Monday.
During the summer break before the Belgian Grand Prix, Alpine racing team announced that the Australian driver would take the seat vacated by the transfer of two-time world champion Fernando Alonso to Aston Martin as the Spaniard was roped in to replace Sebastian Vettel.
But, Piastri, posted on his social media handle that there was no contract between the team and himself and that he would not be racing for the French team in the upcoming year.
Piastri’s manager and former F1 racer Mark Webber believes that his client has a contract in place with the McLaren racing team for the forthcoming campaign.
There is no specific timeline on the final call that will be taken by the contract recognition board of the FIA, but, a decision in the later part of the week is expected.
McLaren negotiated a buyout with current driver Daniel Ricciardo, who had a year remaining on his contract with the team and will be looking to pair Piastri alongside Brit Lando Norris who has outperformed his Australian teammate since the beginning of the season.
Alpine racing team principal Otmar Szafnauer, who informed the driver of the team’s plans during Piastri’s time at the team’s simulator, blasted Pistri’s lack of integrity as the Australian had not mentioned anything regarding his involvement with McLaren during discussions.
Alpine had laid out a massive training program for Piastri who has been associated with the team for four long seasons.
The relationship between the team and the F2 champion seems to have deteriorated since the aforementioned incident and despite the French team being advocates of the Australian’s racing potential and talent, it might lead to an awkward scenario if the FIA’s ruling goes in Alpine’s favour.
In the event that Pisatri does leave for McLaren, one way or another, to fill the void left by compatriot Ricciardo, a report suggests that AlphaTauri racer Pierre Gasly has been cited as the replacement.
Gasly, who had eyes for a spot with AlphaTauri’s parent team Red Bull, seems like he’d have to wait a long time as both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have committed their future to the Austrian constructor and hence might be on the move to a different team altogether.
There is no clarity about Ricciardo’s future as of yet, but, some sources do not rule out a return to Alpine for the Australian.