Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer says the team are likely to go to the high court in a bid to potentially seek millions in compensation if their reserve driver Oscar Piastri refuses to race for them in 2023.
The Enstone-based team announced the 2021 Formula 2 champion as a replacement for the outgoing double F1 world champion Fernando Alonso. However the 21-year-old denied it and explicitly said via twitter last week that “I will not be driving for Alpine next year”.
McLaren are duelling with Alpine for fourth in the Constructors' championship. They have reportedly told their current driver Daniel Ricciardo he is being dropped at the end of the current campaign in favour of Piastri.
Ricciardo is looking for a $21 million pay-out if McLaren were terminate his contract early at the end of the 2022 season, according to Speedcafe.
Szafnauer said to Reuters that Alpine were prepared for a legal battle after Formula 1’s traditional summer break.
"Going to the High Court is over 90% certain that's what we'll do," he added.
The 57-year-old also said he contacted the sport’s Contract Recognition Board (CRB) but warned that it won’t have the same power as the High Court.
"If the CRB says 'your licence 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," said Szafnauer.
Alpine have invested heavily in Piastri’s development supporting him through the Australian’s FIA F2 and FIA F3 title-winning campaigns in 2020 and 2021.
Piastri has also tested a Formula 1 car on multiple occasions on test days but is yet to drive in a Free Practice session.
Szafnauer confirmed Alpine haven’t discussed the fine details of the teams finances with accountants but that will happen if they go to court.
"We haven't sat down with the accountants to figure out everything we've spent. We will have to do that if we go to the High Court.”