Alpine are in no rush to decide on who will replace Fernando Alonso as Esteban Ocon’s new teammate for the 2023 F1 season.
The French manufacturer have unexpectedly been left with a vacated seat to fill for 2023 in the wake of Alonso’s shock switch to Aston Martin for next season, a move which was confirmed at the start of August.
Alpine announced their reserve driver Oscar Piastri would be promoted but the 2021 F2 champion denied he had signed to race for the team, who went on to lose a contract battle with McLaren for his services.
Speaking in an interview with the official F1 website, Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi stressed the team will take their time over a decision.
“We don’t want to rush into the decision,” said Rossi. “It’s a process Otmar [Szafnauer, Alpine team principal] is leading, as he knows what is best for the team.
“We take input from our engineers. The driver is important, but the car is the most important by far.”
Szafnauer previously revealed Alpine have a shortlist of 14 drivers they are considering to fill the seat.
AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly is understood to be Alpine’s preferred choice, but the move hinges on whether Colton Herta can secure a superlicence to race in F1.
Red Bull is willing to release Gasly from his contract to join Alpine if they can replace the Frenchman with IndyCar frontrunner Herta at AlphaTauri.
Herta is being lined up for a private test with Alpine at the Hungaroring in the coming weeks at the request of Red Bull.
Alpine are also set to evaluate Nyck de Vries at the test. The 27-year-old Dutchman starred on his F1 debut with Williams at the Italian Grand Prix as part of a last-minute call-up to replace Alex Albon, who was ruled out with appendicitis.
After de Vries comprehensively out-performed teammate Nicholas Latifi on his way to scoring points with a superb drive to ninth, Williams are facing competition from Alpine to sign the 2020-2021 Formula E champion for next season.
Rossi also confirmed that F2 frontrunner Jack Doohan is under consideration for a 2023 Alpine F1 seat.
Alpine’s preference is to go for an experienced F1 driver to replace Alonso, but F2 race-winner Doohan, who is part of the Alpine Academy, is also in the frame.
The 19-year-old Australian, the son of motorcycle legend Mick Doohan, sits fourth in the F2 championship heading into the final round in Abu Dhabi after claiming three victories in his rookie campaign.
Daniel Ricciardo has also been linked with a potential return to Enstone following the early termination of his McLaren contract.
“We need someone who helps develop the team, who helps develop the car,” said Rossi. “We need a seasoned enough, effective enough driver who will score points right away and also take the team up with him. These are criteria we are looking at.
“There are plenty of good ones. [Red Bull Motorsport Adviser] Helmut [Marko] mentioned Pierre – why wouldn’t you? He’s a very good driver, he would be a good candidate for us.
“You mentioned Jack, he’s a consideration. Despite what we said about the Academy, we believe in him, he’s shown a lot potential, especially lately – talk about being present at the right moment.
“He’s a great person, he is fast, his father is also a champion I admire and a person I admire. They are great guys. He’s in our plans. One way or another we will try and put him in an F1 car at some point. But then again, once bitten, twice shy.”
Asked for a timeframe on when Alpine expects to make a final call, Rossi responded: “We will see what the landscape is by the end of September. We will have more clarity on all options. By then, I assume we will make a choice.”
Keyword: Alpine won’t rush F1 2023 driver decision as new names enter the running>