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Alpine CEO on new drivers: 'We are not a charity'

Alpine CEO on new drivers: 'We are not a charity'

26-09-2022 12:50 Last update: 15:15
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In the wake of the Oscar Piastri saga, which saw the Alpine team lose both Piastri and Fernando Alonso in one fell swoop, the team is forced to rethink how they set up the organisation. In an interview with AMuS, CEO Laurent Rossi takes a critical look at the Alpine Academy, the training programme for new drivers.

That Alpine is not happy with the events surrounding Oscar Piastri's departure should be obvious. After a tumultuous few weeks, the FIA contract committee finally decided that the Australian could move to McLaren after all. This left a bitter taste in Alpine's mouth, as they had a long-term plan with Piastri.

Back in 2020, Piastri had been linked to Alpine through their Alpine Academy. This year, he was confirmed as a reserve driver behind Alonso and Esteban Ocon. The plan was to promote Piastri as soon as a seat became available, but Piastri apparently could not wait for that. For Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi, this is the sign that something needs to change in the structure and rules surrounding the training programme.

Rossi wants to gain more control over the drivers in the Alpine Academy.

Part of Rossi's plans is the management of the drivers in their training route. Piastri, for example, was represented by former Formula 1 driver Mark Webber. If it were up to Rossi, Alpine would take on the management of the drivers themselves in their academy, and no longer allow external managers. In his opinion, they are now training drivers for other teams too quickly, instead of these drivers staying within the Alpine team. He also hinted that in the future he would like to have contracts where drivers commit to one permanent team for a longer period of time.

Rossi also thinks a possible rule change should be looked at to avoid situations like this in the future. Team bosses Christian Horner and Toto Wolff had also said they did not think it was a good situation, and Rossi sees this as confirmation that something needs to change in the rules.

"Maybe we should do it like in football, where it happens time and again that small clubs train players, and once they are good, they are bought away by the big ones. We could consider a three-year period before a driver is allowed to change teams." In any case, it is clear that Rossi will not let something like this happen again. "We have to avoid training drivers for others. We are not a charity."

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