McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer’s running commentary on the Oscar Piastri Formula 1 contract saga has made him look “a bit silly”.
McLaren secured Piastri’s services for 2023 and beyond after F1’s contract recognition board [CRB] ruled in its favour, despite Alpine claiming it already had an agreement with Piastri in place.
Prior to the CRB hearing, Szafnauer had been very vocal on the matter, believing Alpine had a strong case to prove Piastri had an obligation to race for the team.
On the other side, McLaren remained tight-lipped on the case before a verdict was reached, which Brown said was a deliberate approach given the attention the saga had drawn.
“Before the CRB ruling, they didn’t know what they didn’t know and we kept our mouths shut deliberately,” said Brown, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“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.”
McLaren announced Piastri as part of its 2023 driver line-up once the CRB ruled his contract with the team was his only valid deal for next year, allowing him to take Daniel Ricciardo’s vacant seat.
It marked the second contract saga McLaren has found itself in the middle of this year after both it and Chip Ganassi argued they had a deal signed with Alex Palou in Indycar.
This was resolved on Wednesday when Palou announced he would remain at Chip Ganassi for 2023 but that he had also agreed to some F1 test outings with McLaren.
While Brown was clear the Palou dispute had no influence on its decision to stay quiet during Piastri’s case, he acknowledged both matters hadn’t gone down well with some fans.
“It was very noisy, but we haven’t really commented on anything over here [in IndyCar] either,” said Brown.
“It’s best to let things play out, and we can give a little colour afterwards. If you look at Otmar’s comments, he was giving a play-by-play on the CRB and how confident they were, and now I think he looks a little silly.
“So I think that’s why it’s best to keep our mouths shut and comment on it afterwards when there’s something concrete to say.”