Alpine CEO, Laurent Rossi, has affirmed that he has no intention of making a hasty decision over the team’s driver line-up heading into next season.
Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon started the year as Alpine’s full-time drivers, with Oscar Piastri in behind as a test and reserve having won the Formula 2 title.
Alonso was out of contract at the end of this season, so team principal, Otmar Szafnauer, was trying to negotiate a new deal that would keep the Spaniard around for another season.
The double world champion wanted another two years, but Szafnauer was only willing to offer him one, partly due to his age, and partly because Piastri was waiting in the wings for his shot.
Were a two-year deal offered, it was possible that Piastri would not have a full-time seat until at least 2025, but the French team wanted to keep him in their programme in the meantime anyway.
Alpine could not decide who they wanted going forward, and both drivers eventually became disenfranchised with the situation, so they have decided to leave.
Alonso will join Aston Martin to replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel in 2023, while Piastri is set to race for McLaren alongside Lando Norris, in place of Daniel Ricciardo.
This leaves the Enstone-based crew in need of a driver, and they have 14 drivers on their shortlist, including Ricciardo, who left the team at the end of the 2020 season following just two seasons with them.
Nyck de Vries is another, as well as Haas’ Mick Schumacher, who has not yet signed a new deal with the American team.
But Alpine’s main priority is understood to be Pierre Gasly, who they would have to pry from the hands of Red Bull.
This will not be an easy task, as the Austrian team would need to find a replacement to put in the AlphaTauri car alongside Yuki Tsunoda, and because there is no set clause in Gasly’s contract, Red Bull hold all the cards in buyout negotiations.
Alpine will not bundle into a decision though, instead choosing to analyse all of their options.
“We’ll take our time, [because] we don’t want to make a mistake,” said Rossi.
“There is no rush and we are in a comfortable situation. In all modesty, we have the hottest seat in the paddock at the moment.
“We are the fourth team on the grid, so people are waiting for us before to make a decision.”
Rossi then confirmed that the 14-driver list had been whittled down to six.
“We chose 14 drivers, as Otmar previously announced, now we are down to six,” he added.
“Some are not yet completely free to make a switch and others may not quite fit in the picture.
“By the end of September we should have a good idea on who we want to sign.”
By Rossi’s forecast, Alpine could finalise their plans for next year in the next three days.