May 24 (GMM) Alpine will “find a solution” to its three-driver dilemma ahead of the 2023 season.
That is the news from Luca de Meo, who is CEO of Renault – the owner of the works Alpine team in Formula 1.
It is now an open secret that two-time world champion Alonso, 40, may not stay with the Enstone team beyond the end of his currently expiring contract.
He has already been linked with Aston Martin, in a move that would open up Alonso’s Alpine race seat to reigning Formula 2 champion and team reserve Oscar Piastri.
Esteban Ocon is already under contract for 2023.
“We love Fernando very much,” de Meo told the Spanish broadcaster DAZN.
“We are going to have to find a solution for everyone, because we also have Esteban and Oscar, who are very good,” he said. “We want to protect our drivers and seek an ideal solution for everyone.
“I think the work that Fernando has done and is doing is incredible.”
According to Alonso’s friend and former colleague Pedro de la Rosa, de Meo’s comments are actually a disappointing sign that Alpine is moving on.
“I was surprised,” he is quoted by Diario Sport newspaper. “The question, for me, is whether Fernando would like to continue, not the other way around.
“The plan plan in Formula 1 is the medium-long term, otherwise there are no results. The way for ‘El Plan’ to work is by having Fernando on the team for several years.”
As far as de Meo is concerned, however, having three top drivers to consider is a luxury for Alpine.
“We combined the experience of Alonso with the youth of Ocon and now Piastri enters,” he said. “It is a challenge to find a position for the three of them.
“The solution will not be 100 percent pleasant for all three of them, but we believe that we have to give each one of them an opportunity.”
According to most insiders, the most likely scenario is that Alonso will leave Alpine, with Australian youngster Piastri joining Ocon at Alpine from 2023.
“We have to protect the three drivers,” de Meo said, “and also the one that they say is a super-talent in Piastri.
“Fernando is 41 years old and Piastri is 21. The moment of change will come, but Fernando is a legend and we so cannot treat him as if he was just another Alpine employee.”
Luca de Meo also denied suggestions Alpine has effectively stalled in Formula 1, despite earlier grand plans for wins and the title within several years.
“Nobody knows when you are going to be champion,” he insisted. “You have to see the progression.
“Three years to set up a competitive team is normal. We saw that with everyone, including Red Bull or Mercedes, that it takes a while.”