Piastri: No extra pressure after Alpine F1 exit controversy

McLaren Formula 1 rookie Oscar Piastri insists that his controversial exit from Alpine does not put any extra pressure on him ahead of his race debut in Bahrain.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren

Last summer, Piastri was at the centre of a tug-of-love between McLaren and Alpine, for whom he served as reserve driver and was previously a member of its junior programme.

After Fernando Alonso’s move to Aston Martin was announced, Piastri was initially named by Alpine as his replacement, but he quickly denied that was the case via social media as he had already signed a deal with McLaren.

The Contract Recognition Board subsequently agreed that he was free to drive for the Woking team.

Piastri received a lot of negative publicity at the time, with Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer questioning his loyalty and threatening to sue to recover the funds spent on the 2020 Formula 3 and 2021 Formula 2 champion’s junior career. 

“I don't think it adds any pressure from that aspect,” said Piastri when asked by Autosport if that was the case.

“Coming into F1 with the previous results I've had in junior categories, I think there's always going to be an element of expectation from that. And I think whilst the drama created a lot of attention, it has nothing to do with my driving.

PLUS: Why Piastri being "almost constantly a little unhappy" pre-F1 debut pleases McLaren

“The results are more of an area of expectation to come from, I guess. So I don't think that specifically adds anything.

“I'm just trying to get back up to speed, and obviously, there'll be a bit of rust having not raced for a year, and just trying to get myself back up to speed.

“There are some things without racing that you just can't keep training. That's why I'm looking forward to getting back out on track.”

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL35M

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL35M

Photo by: McLaren

Piastri insisted that he was quickly able to put the fuss behind him and concentrate on preparations with his new team.

“Obviously it was an experience last year,” he said. “And yeah, I think once we went through the hearing and the results of that came out in our favour, it was just sorting out how the exit from Alpine would look.

“And then once that happened, after the season ended for the post-season test, it was fully focus with McLaren.

“So it was nice to get that post-season testing and now being able to embed myself in properly with the team, and I'm looking forward to starting my debut year with the team.”

PLUS: Why McLaren's 2023 may be a building year

Piastri also believes that the any negativity around the Alpine saga has now been forgotten.

“I think I'm going into the season pretty comfortable,” he said.

“Once all the facts came out and the full story came out, I think it became much more clear to most people. So that's not weighing on my mind.

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“I'm fully focused on being a McLaren man. I think time is a good healer for most things. 

"So I'm focused with where I am now, I've got a lot on my plate trying to prepare with McLaren. And that preparation has been going really well.”

Additional reporting by Jonathan Noble and Matt Kew

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