Alpine’s Fernando Alonso has indicated that an over-emphasis from the team on reserve driver Oscar Piastri is ultimately what led to contract negotiations breaking down.
The Spaniard returned to the pinnacle of motorsport last season with the team that helped him win two world championships in 2005 and 2006, having left McLaren at the end of 2018.
Alonso scored his 98th career podium in Qatar having played a key role in Esteban Ocon securing the Enstone team’s first win since their days as Lotus in 2013.
He was contracted at the French side until the end of this year, and wanted a new deal that would see him continue for the next few years.
Alpine, however, only wanted to offer him one more due to his age, and they were also keen to get Piastri on board in the coming years.
Set on a future with Ocon and Piastri in their team, 41-year-old Alonso did not feature in team principal Otmar Szafnauer’s plans, so the double world champion looked elsewhere.
Sebastian Vettel’s impending retirement opened the door at Aston Martin, so Alonso signed with billionaire owner Lawrence Stroll.
Piastri was being kept waiting on his future while Alpine were waiting to see if Alonso would re-sign, so he too became impatient, and he has reportedly signed with McLaren to replace Daniel Ricciardo.
Alonso revealed that he and Alpine had started negotiations over a new contract at the start of the season, but little progress was made due to their focus on Piastri.
“The first discussions were in Australia in March, nothing happened,” he said.
“They were worried about Piastri, his place, Piastri’s future – Piastri, Piastri, Piastri.
“Then Sebastian ended his career and everything changed.”
The 32-time race winner did not appreciate his age being scrutinised despite his exceptional performances.
“It seems quite strange to me that I am judged every year on what my passport says is my birthday, the other teams think differently and trust my abilities,” added Alonso.
“It felt like the right decision to go to Aston because they really seemed to want me and appreciated the performance I had done in the last two years, I haven’t experienced that in maybe the last year and a half.”
Alpine and Piastri have headed to the contract recognition board this week to resolve their contractual dispute, as Szafnauer wants compensation from the 21-year-old for the time and money that has been invested in his career, only for him, in the team’s eyes, to break contract.