The ‘ silly season ‘ started in the most entertaining way possible, and that is that the withdrawal of Sebastian Vettel caused a series of movements that has affected a large part of the Formula 1 grid. The departure of the German from Aston Martin left a gap in the Silverstone team, but the British team did not take long to announce a replacement, who would be none other than the two-time world champion, Fernando Alonso.
Everything could seem normal, a pilot who leaves the category and is replaced by another, but the strange thing about the situation is that the Oviedo was very close to signing the renewal with Alpine, or at least that is what the French boss assured , Otmar Szafnauer , and it is that he explained that they expected to make the official announcement at the next Belgian Grand Prix.
After learning about this radical change of opinion in the Spanish driver, those at Enstone responded immediately by confirming that Oscar Piastri , the young man from the academy who was rumored to be on loan at Williams during 2023 to finally arrive at Alpine later, he would be the one to take his seat.
However, the Australian was in charge of denying hours later that he was the one who would get behind the wheel of the French car, generating an entire legal battle between the French team and McLaren, with whom, in principle, he also has an agreement to replace Daniel Ricciardo . In case of going to Woking, his compatriot should look for a place, and the possibility of returning to the Enstone team opens up, although nothing is guaranteed yet.
Szafnauer spoke about everything that happened, who in an interview with El Confidencial gave details about the progress of Fernando Alonso, who had been his trusted driver until the relationship was broken in Hungary.
When asked if he had experienced something like this before during his time in motorsport’s top flight, he said: “It’s the first time I’ve experienced something like this, for sure. Although I’m not surprised, because I’ve been in other situations and stories since the both sides, from that of the driver and that of the teams, but, in my case, I had never experienced anything like that”.
“Nothing is certain until it is signed. We talked a lot with Fernando [Alonso], we wanted him to stay, and he also had conversations with Aston Martin, so it was the most attractive details of the contract that they offered him that he had to discuss with us,” the Alpine boss continued.
The director of the French team acknowledges that he is not disappointed with what happened with Alonso since he has been in the category for many years and knew what could happen: “I cannot be so naive as not to know the rules of the game of Formula 1 I have lived many stories, but I think I am a man of integrity, and that if I commit to something, I will do everything possible to make it happen”.
On what was going to be the Asturian’s replacement, Oscar Piastri , revealed that they had a contract signed in November until 2023, with the possibility of a transfer to another team, but his decision not to drive for Alpine is something he does not understand after they financed his entire sports career in lower categories.
However, he still holds out hope for the Australian to be his driver: “This is not final yet, it still has to be decided. We have a contract that he signed in November, we have spoken with our lawyers and they have told us that it is binding, so that agreement allows us to upload it in one of our cars in 2023”.
“That is the reason why we released the statement,” Szafnauer said. “There is also a possibility for 2024, and the option for us to ‘loan’ the driver to another team.
“I expected more loyalty from Piastri, he should have it with that team that has taken care of him, that has taken him to Formula 1 and, above all, that during the last year has put him in a car so that he was ready and knew the circuits “, confessed the American director, who does not care about the number of pilots he has available on the market.
“Alonso is going to Aston Martin. We had a contract with Piastri and we must see where it takes us legally, we are going to spend some time investigating it, and if it is not in the car, which I think it will be, with Fernando out. I have about fourteen phone calls from drivers who are interested, because the Alpine seat is the most valuable one left.”