Grand prix

Piastri F1 contract saga made Szafnauer look ‘silly’

F1’s Contract Recognition Board ruled earlier this month that McLaren had won their battle against Alpine for the services of Piastri, who will replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren next season. 

Ahead of the CRB hearing, Szafnauer expressed confidence in Alpine’s claim they had an agreement in place with Piastri to be promoted from the role of reserve and make his F1 debut with the French manufacturer in 2023

The Alpine chief accused Piastri of a lack of “integrity” over the young Australian’s refusal to drive for the team next year. 

In contrast, McLaren’s hierarchy refrained from commenting until a verdict was reached. 

“It was very noisy, but we really haven’t commented on anything. I think it was better just to let things play out and give a little bit of colour afterwards,” Brown told NBC Sports. 

“If you look at all of the comments by Otmar he was giving a little play-by-play of the CRB and how confident they were, and now I think he looks a little silly.

“That’s why it’s best to keep your mouth shut, and we can talk about it after the fact when there’s something concrete to say.”

Brown said McLaren were confident the CRB would rule in their favour and so did not feel the need to comment publicly on the matter. 

“Before the CRB ruling, they didn’t know what they didn’t know and we kept our mouths shut deliberately,” he explained. 

“Now that ruling has come out and some of the detail, I think it’s clear what happened there.

“So we recognised there was a lot of noise, but we knew the truth would come out eventually and we could ride it out, as opposed to giving a running commentary.

“At the time we were not oblivious to the noise and some of the direct message notes I got from fans. But now we’re very comfortable that the CRB ruling has come out, and that’s very clear there.”

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