1997 world champion, Jacques Villeneuve, has suggested that Alpine sign Jack Doohan from Formula 2, rather than look outside of their talent pool.
Alpine came into the 2022 season with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon as their first-team drivers, while F2 champion, Oscar Piastri, has been serving as their reserve.
Alonso, at 41 years of age, was offered a one-plus-one deal so that team principal, Otmar Szafnauer, could review him at the end of next year before continuing their partnership.
The Romanian-American also had Piastri’s future to think about, and it was possible that the Australian might not have been in the Alpine seat until the beginning of 2025.
Alpine were also struggling to make headway loaning the 21-year-old out, and they needed to keep him as part of their system in case Alonso departed.
In the end, both drivers felt like they were being played, so Alonso decided to sign with Aston Martin, and Piastri headed to Woking to agree a deal with McLaren.
Alpine took the case to the contract recognition board (CRB) to protest the Aussie’s signature with Zak Brown’s team, but the deal Piastri signed was deemed to be legal.
Having initially had three drivers, Alpine have ended up only with Esteban Ocon, so they need to sign another driver to partner the 25-year-old.
One of their options is Daniel Ricciardo, whom Piastri will be replacing, but it is looking increasingly likely that they will pursue AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.
The Frenchman is contracted to Red Bull until the end of next year though, so Alpine would need to buy him out of it, and since there is no clause, the Austrian side hold all the cards in those negotiations.
However, Doohan, the son of motorcycle legend Mick, has won four races in F2 this year, and he is part of the Alpine junior academy.
In 2017, Renault signed Carlos Sainz on loan from Red Bull, and the Spaniard too came with a racing background due to the legendary career of rally driver and father, Carlos Sainz Sr.
The professional “mindset,” as well as the fact that Alpine will want to avoid a repeat of the mess they have found themselves in this year, leads Villeneuve to opine that Doohan would be a good fit for the Enstone squad in 2023.
“Why not take a chance with Doohan? Instead of spending a year preparing him like they did with Piastri, just put him in the deep end and see what happens,” he told F1 TV.
“Doohan comes with a good background – like Sainz, that really gets the right mindset to be at the top level and survive under pressure.”
Due to the frosty relationship between Gasly and Ocon, and the money required to obtain the 26-year-old, Villeneuve feels there is little point in trying to sign the race winner.
“That’s a strange one, they already have a French driver,” he explained.
“The two don’t get along, so don’t put them together, and he’s under contract and you have to move mountains to get him, so it doesn’t make sense.
“And Gasly hasn’t had a very good season in general.”
The 51-year-old also suggested that Ricciardo, whom Piastri will be replacing next season, is not on Szafnauer’s list of priorities.