Fernando Alonso reveals disappointment with Alpine ‘conspiracy’

Fernando Alonso has signed with Aston Martin for the 2023 season.

Fernando Alonso has revealed that he felt as though he was a stop gap for Alpine while they were preparing Oscar Piastri for a drive in Formula 1.

The Spaniard returned to F1 with Alpine, the team with whom he won two titles in 2005 and 2006 under their Renault guise, last season.

He had taken a two-year sabbatical after leaving McLaren for the second time at the end of 2018, and he managed his 98th career podium in Qatar towards the end of 2021.

The Spaniard had come back with a two-year deal but, having proven, with 24 points finishes since his return, that he still has every bit of ability that took him to his championships, he was looking for a longer deal.

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Due to his age at 41 years old though, team principal Otmar Szafnauer was only willing to offer the 32-time race winner a one plus one deal.

This would entail one more season in 2023, with a review at the end of the year to see if he would be able to contest another campaign in 2024.

Another snag in the negotiations was Piastri; the reserve driver was the subject of loan talks between Alpine and other teams on the grid, but they did not want to lose the 21-year-old before they had tied Alonso to a new deal.

But because they reportedly wanted to get Piastri involved in 2024, they did jot want to offer the Spaniard a contract that went beyond next season, and that was the final straw.

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Alonso decided to jump ship and move to Aston Martin following the announcement of Sebastian Vettel’s retirement, and for him, it felt like a case of Alpine waiting to move him on for the arrival of Piastri.

“It was for sure, I’m trying to perform at my best and every weekend I try to give my best on track, we had an incredible journey these two years with the team and we were up a lot,” he told Sky Sports.

“It seems I have to be re-evaluated every year because my passport says whatever date of birth. 

“It was a little bit strange to me, other teams, they think differently, they trust in my abilities and I’m happy with that.”

Piastri is now expected to sign for McLaren after he too became impatient with Alpine, and he is set to replace Daniel Ricciardo, who has been dropped.

It was previously speculated that Alonso’s manager, Flavio Briatore, had conspired with Piastri’s manager, Mark Webber.

Reports suggested that the Italian had found some loopholes in Piastri’s contract that would allow him to leave Alpine for McLaren while Alonso headed to Aston Martin.

The former Ferrari driver has no time for these suggestions, insisting that he made his decision to leave on his own, and he has nothing to do with Piastri’s future.

“I read that in the first days and honestly it was quite sad and annoying to read that conspiracy,” explained Alonso.

“I made this decision, I explained why, because from some months that I had been chatting with the team about extending the contract but nothing happened and Aston called me after Sebastian retired. 

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“They were very clear and easy decisions from my side. What happened after and what is happening with Oscar is completely not my thing.”

Alonso revealed on Thursday that he had told every member of the Alpine board apart from Szafnauer of his decision to leave before he was announced as an Aston Martin driver.

The 41-year-old affirmed that the decision to sign with the British side had been made during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend after Vettel’s announcement, not before. 

“We started talking on that weekend briefly about the conditions I was expecting, about what they were expecting from me as well,” added Alonso.

“We met quite quickly on our expectations and fulfilled all our wishes and on Monday morning we signed and we decided to announce quite quickly before any leaks.”

Alpine are now searching for another driver to partner Esteban Ocon next season, with Ricciardo, Mick Schumacher, Yuki Tsunoda, Zhou Guanyu and Nicholas Latifi all available at the end of the season.