How Benetton paying $591,000 for Michael Schumacher in 1991 is affecting Oscar Piastri in 2022

Tanish Chachra
|Published 20/08/2022

Benetton paying $591,000 for Michael Schumacher led to the formation of an FIA body that will now look into Oscar Piastri’s contract with Alpine.

The 2022 season drama has just started, with summer break always full of drivers changing seats. The tensions in F1 flared when Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement, which will enforce at the end of the 2022 season.

It followed Fernando Alonso being announced as the German’s replacement for the 2023 season. Now, Alpine had a void to fill, and they announced Oscar Piastri, their reserve driver for 2022, as the replacement for Alonso.

But it soon turned chaotic when Piastri said he would not be driving with Alpine next year. Thus, it meant that surely the Australian was plotting a move to another team.

Soon, it came out that Piastri was indeed in talks with McLaren. Reportedly, the Woking-based team wanted to remove Daniel Ricciardo from their setup, but it will come at a cost as the 33-year-old is asking for a $21 million compensation to nullify his contract.

On the other hand, Alpine is seeking recovery from its investments in Piastri. Alpine has even threatened to go to court. But FIA President tweeted that the dispute will be settled within the realms of F1 by FIA’s Driver Contract Recognition Board (CRB) instead of going to court.

Also read: Charles Leclerc denies 14-year-drought is adding pressure on him in 2022

Why is Michael Schumacher relevant here?

It’s known that in 1991, Schumacher appeared for Jordan. He gave an impressive qualifying performance ending at P7. His race was cut short despite running P5 due to a clutch failure.

Thus, seeing Schumacher’s performance, Benetton wanted to sign him for 1992. But the events soon fast-tracked to the next week’s race in Monza.

Signing Schumacher wasn’t the biggest deal for Benetton. The contract with Jordan didn’t stand up in court, and Eddie Jordan lost the biggest F1 prospect ever.

But for Benetton, ousting their then-current driver Roberto Moreno was a problem. Moreno had a valid contract with the team and only got out of the way when he accepted compensation of almost $591,000.

Schumacher then made his debut for Benetton at Monza after impressing the team in the prior test. Meanwhile, Moreno joined Jordan. This 1991 chaos led to FIA forming CRB, which will now examine Piastri’s issues.

Also read: Charles Leclerc denies 14-year-drought is adding pressure on him in 2022

Share this article
About the author
Tanish Chachra

Tanish Chachra

Tanish Chachra is the Motorsport editor at The SportsRush. He saw his first race when F1 visited India in 2011, and since then, his romance with the sport has been seasonal until he took up this role in 2020. Reigniting F1's coverage on this site, Tanish has fallen in love with the sport all over again. He loves Kimi Raikkonen and sees a future world champion in Oscar Piastri. Away from us, he loves to snuggle inside his books.

Read more from Tanish Chachra