Tobi Gruner, journalist for Auto Motor und Sport, believes that Aston Martin knew they were close to signing Fernando Alonso going into the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend.
Sebastian Vettel has been considering his future in Formula 1 for several months now, and the British team were keen to keep him around, so they were initially happy to wait for his decision.
However, Alonso is also out of contract with Alpine at the end of this season, and there was no guarantee that he would re-sign.
The French team have been trying to make a decision as to whom they want to partner Esteban Ocon next year – Alonso or reserve driver Oscar Piastri.
The dilemma for them was that they were waiting for a seat to open up elsewhere so that they could loan Piastri out next season, so they did not renew Alonso in case they could not find an alternative option for the Formula 2 champion.
However, they waited too long; Piastri became tired of waiting to see if he will get a drive next year, so he has gone looking to other teams for a potential opening in 2023.
In the meantime, Alonso was not pleased with the one plus one deal reportedly being offered to him by Alpine, as well as their use of him as a transitional period until they could get Piastri in the car.
In the end, the Enstone-based side could not decide which driver they wanted, so both of them became disgruntled at being used, and neither of them, it appears, will be racing for Alpine next season.
Due to the 41-year-old’s search for another drive, aware that his team were just waiting to swap him out for Piastri, Alonso started negotiations with Aston Martin.
Gruner revealed that this is why Vettel made his decision right before the summer break, because Alonso had all but tied up his deal by the end of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend.
“That’s why Aston Martin recently approached Vettel with a request to make a decision about his future before the summer break,” he explained.
“Team owner Lawrence Stroll met with Alonso in the Aston Martin motorhome in Hungary on Saturday, where the new contract was apparently sealed.”
There may yet be a legal battle involving Piastri and Alpine, with the French team clearly feeling that they have a contractual agreement for him to race with them next year.
Piastri is thought to be wanting a move to McLaren instead, leaving Alpine searching for a new driver as they look to replace the departing Alonso.