A virtual meeting of the Contract Recognition Board on Monday is set to decide the Formula 1 future of Oscar Piastri.
The Alpine and McLaren teams are both vying for the Australian’s services in 2023. The Concorde Agreement requires them to abide by the CRB’s decision and not take any further legal action to change that ruling.
The CRB, which was formed in the aftermath of Michael Schumacher’s departure from Jordan and Benetton, and Roberto Moreno’s subsequent dismissal from the latter, usually operates quietly in the background, only making headlines when a high-profile dispute arises.
It is mentioned in Appendix 5 of the FIA Sporting Regulations, but that section is blank, with the note “reserved for the exclusive use of competitors entered in the FIA Formula One World Championship.”
Two of the most famous CRB cases saw a driver’s original team win, and the outfit hoping to poach him lose. That happened when David Coulthard tried to leave Williams for McLaren in 1995, and when Jenson Button wanted to move from BAR to Williams a decade later.
If Alpine wins the CRB case, it does not guarantee that Piastri will race for the Enstone team in 2023.
Given the animosity surrounding his attempts to join McLaren, it’s clear that the relationship has deteriorated to the point where forcing him to drive makes little sense for either party.
In that case, Alpine would be free to set its own price and sell him to McLaren.
Alpine could, in theory, entertain interest from other teams looking to hire Piastri or trade him for someone with a contract elsewhere, such as Pierre Gasly.
If McLaren is not able to land Piastri, either via the CRB decision or a subsequent deal with Alpine, it will have to find someone else to replace Daniel Ricciardo.
If Alpine loses, there is a chance that legal action will be taken, though not to pursue its claim on his services.
Otmar Szafnauer, the team’s manager, has stated that Alpine would consider filing a lawsuit to recoup the funds spent on his test programmes and so on.