Brown slams Szafnauer’s ‘inaccurate and unfair’ Piastri comments

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Zak Brown has labelled Otmar Szafnauer’s comments about Oscar Piastri in the wake of a dispute over his services as “inaccurate and unfair”. The row erupted when Alpine named Piastri – who had been serving as their reserve driver – as part of their 2023 line-up following Fernando Alonso’s exit for Aston Martin, only for Piastri to later deny that he had signed for Alpine. Piastri had agreed a deal to race at McLaren as Daniel Ricciardo’s replacement and the case was taken to the Contract Recognition Board, with the verdict going in McLaren’s favour. It was then confirmed in September that Piastri would join Lando Norris at the Woking-based squad next season. Following the controversy, Alpine boss Szafnauer said that he had “expected more loyalty” from Piastri , and suggested that there had been a lack of “integrity”, something that Brown takes issue with. Brown criticises Szafnauer’s remarks “I’ve been very impressed with [Piastri], how he conducted himself over the summer,” Brown told media, including RacingNews365.com . “I thought Otmar’s comments towards Oscar were very unfair and not accurate, especially having sat through the CRB and now I know exactly what happened. “I think we need to remember they were trying to sign Fernando Alonso, and it’s kind of this, ‘Oh, this seat is yours, we announced you.’ “Well, that’s only because Fernando caught you by surprise, so he was going to have to sit out another year or go to a team further down the grid, and I think he served his duty, sitting out a year. “Ultimately, Toto [Wolff] released [Esteban] Ocon. At some point… you hold them, you invest in them, but if you can’t give them [something] and it just doesn’t work out, you can’t hold someone back. “So the way Otmar called his integrity into question, I thought was very inaccurate and unfair, especially coming from Otmar.” Piastri a ‘future star’, says Brown Brown was not only impressed by Piastri’s handling of the contract dispute but has also voiced his high expectations for the Australian’s future. “He was very mature through the whole process which, for a 21-year-old, with having all that pressure and spotlight, he was not frazzled, [he] kept his head down,” Brown added. “We’ve now had him in our TPC [Testing Previous Car] car, he did an excellent job. “I think he’s going to be a future star. I think what’s important is he’s not raced for a year; we don’t have a lot of testing. I wish there was more pre-season testing, not just for Oscar, just in general, because he’s effectively going to get a day and a half, which is not a lot. “I think he’s going to be competitive and push Lando. We just need to give him time to bore into the team. He’s a very serious individual, and he’s ready to go.” Piastri made his McLaren debut at the post-season test day in Abu Dhabi following the 2022 season finale.

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