Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has revealed that he had reached an agreement with Fernando Alonso, before the Spaniard decided to take Aston Martin up on their offer.
Alonso had been negotiating a new contract that would see him remain at the French side beyond the end of this season, but Alpine were only willing to offer him a one plus one deal that would include an option after the first season.
This was down to his age, and Szafnauer alluded to the fact that a driver’s reactions and strength naturally decrease as they head into their forties.
The Romanian-American also reckons that money was a factor; he had already settled on a price for Alonso to stay with his team.
But after Sebastian Vettel’s retirement, it is very possible that Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll was willing to put up more money to acquire the 41-year-old’s services.
“I don’t know how much they are going to pay him at Aston Martin, to be honest. I don’t know,” Szafnauer told El Confidencial.
“What I do know is that we offered him more money than we pay him now, which is logical.
“It was the figure that he tried to negotiate at the beginning, as everyone does, but in the end we reached an agreement.
“But I don’t know, I’ve heard rumours that they made him a very high offer. I don’t know if it was a decisive factor – ask him.”
Szafnauer started working with the Aston Martin team all the way back in 2009 when it was known as Force India, and departed at the start of this year.
He was therefore privy to a lot of negotiations, and he suspects that Stroll always had a contract drawn up for the double world champion – all Alonso had to do was say the word.
“Taking into account that I was at Aston Martin last year and all the years I have been in Formula 1, I can say that Fernando had conversations last year – or two years ago, really,” explained Szafnauer.
“Yes, it sounds like that may be possible, likely even.”
Oscar Piastri has denied that he has been promoted to Alpine for next year, as he appears to have made alternative arrangements with another team having grown tired of waiting to see where he future was depending on Alonso’s negotiations.
The Spaniard never told Szafnauer that he was leaving Alpine; the 57-year-old only found out via a press release from Aston Martin, so the relationship between the pair will naturally have taken a hit.
However, this does not mean that the 32-time race winner will be replaced before the end of the season by whomever does end up being promoted to Alonso’s position next year.
“Not at all, Why?” said Szafnauer when asked if that was a possibility.
“He is a great driver, he’s one of the best assets we have, and with Esteban Ocon that is what could help us to beat McLaren.”
Szafnauer also called Piastri’s “loyalty” into question after the Australian snubbed his promotion.