Formula 1 journalist Joe Saward reports that Fernando Alonso has agreed a new deal that keeps him at Alpine for another two seasons.
The Spaniard has picked up right where he left off since he returned to the pinnacle of motorsport at 39 years of age last year, scoring points on 23 occasions with an Alpine team that is climbing up the order.
The French side sit fourth in the Constructors’ Championship after overtaking McLaren at the French Grand Prix last weekend.
Alonso leads team-mate Esteban Ocon 7-5 in the qualifying battle after 12 rounds of the 2022 season, so there were question marks as to why no announcement had been made as to an extension.
The 40-year-old’s contract expires at the end of this year, and there is a possibility that he could be tempted by Aston Martin following the announcement of Sebastian Vettel’s retirement, but he may already have put pen to paper on a new contract at Enstone.
Saward revealed that, despite Alpine buying back Genii Capital’s shares ahead of this season, they are now looking to sell those shares to a more profitable partner.
This is of course a suggestion that they need more money, which serves as an indication as to why they have not secured a new deal for Alonso yet – the double world champion wants money.
“Money is important at Alpine and thus negotiating a new deal with Fernando Alonso has been quite complex as the Spaniard has ideas of his own worth which are, how shall we say, impressive,” wrote Saward in his blog.
“However the threat of the team signing up a talented youngster called Oscar Piastri was obviously helpful in the negotiations.”
Saward indicated that there is a two-year deal on the table, with an option available to Alonso after the first season.
“Anyway, the word is that Fernando now has a new two-year deal (perhaps one plus one) and this will be announced after August 1 when an option date will pass,” he continued.
Saward indicated that there is a reluctance on Oscar Piatri’s part to join Williams next year, as the British side have been uncompetitive this season and are showing few signs at the moment of becoming a team capable of consistently scoring points.
“This, of course, means that the team will have to release Oscar Piastri unless it can convince him to join Williams for a year or two,” he explained.
“However it seems that Oscar is more interested in an offer from McLaren that would require him ceasing to be part of the Alpine Academy.”
This means that any move Piastri might make to join McLaren would not be a loan move from Alpine.
Much like the Carlos Sainz situation when he flew the Red Bull nest in 2019 having been on loan at Renault, Piastri would become a McLaren affiliated driver only.
However, Daniel Ricciardo has a contract until the end of next season at the Woking-based side, so the chances of Piastri working his way in there are low, especially given the competition.
Colton Herta and Patricio O’Ward are both being taught the F1 ropes by McLaren, and they seem to be the next in line for when things open up – Herta in particular, so it hard to see how Piastri would find an open door to the inn.
If the young Australian is playing hard ball, he needs to be careful, because Williams will give Nicholas Latifi’s seat to someone else if Piastri turns it down.
Logan Sargeant has won two races in Formula 2 this year, and has established himself as a title contender as part of the Williams junior programme.
He tested with Williams back in December, and he is someone who members of the paddock will be taking a lot more seriously, along with Alfa Romeo development driver Theo Pourchaire and championship leader Felipe Drugovich who, somehow, is not affiliated with an F1 team yet.
“Williams, in the meantime, appears to be focussing on Logan Sargent,” said Saward.
“The 21-year-old Florida driver has come good in F2 in recent weeks and has won feature races in Silverstone and Red Bull Ring.
“He is the best rookie in the series this year and currently third behind the more experienced Felipe Drugovich and Theo Pourchaire.”
Piastri’s countryman, Jack Doohan, won the Silverstone sprint race with Virtuoso earlier this year in F2, and is also a member of the Alpine academy so, if the reigning champion does leave, they still have a very capable replacement at hand.
Alonso, meanwhile, may end up heading back to endurance racing, but not with Toyota this time.
“If Piastri does decide to leave Alpine, it still has Jack Doohan and Victor Martins on the books for the future, while Alonso could transition into the Alpine LMDh (Le Mans Daytona Hypercar) team in the longer term,” stated Saward.
With Vettel set to retire at the end of this season, Saward also suggested that Haas’ Mick Schumacher is the most likely candidate to replace the four-time champion.