Alpine confirm their commitment to Academy after talk of axing programme

Thomas Maher
Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer. Austria July 2022.

Otmar Szafnauer surveys the grid in front of the Alpine of Esteban Ocon. Austria July 2022.

Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer has said the Alpine Academy will remain in place for 2023, after discussions over its future were held.

The Alpine Academy came under scrutiny in the latter half of the 2022 season, due to the embarrassing controversy Alpine found themselves embroiled in due to Oscar Piastri.

The Australian, who will race with McLaren in 2023, had been an Alpine Academy driver, carrying out private testing with the team before being announced as Fernando Alonso’s replacement for next season.

However, Piastri quickly distanced himself from Alpine’s announcement and denied a deal had been reached. The reason for his disagreement quickly became clear – he had signed a deal to race with McLaren.

The matter ended up having to go before F1’s Contract Recognition Board, who sided with McLaren, with the CRB revealing Piastri had never had a valid contract with Alpine for 2023.

The situation made Alpine look somewhat disorganised in the administration of their Academy contracts, with Szafnauer revealing that discussions had been held with Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi over whether to continue the junior driver programme.

“At the time, you look at everything,” Szafnauer said, as quoted by the Mirror.

“I think Laurent said that we’ve got to reconsider that if we spend this money and get drivers to a certain spot and they want to go elsewhere, should we really be doing this? That was something we looked at, but we definitely continue to be committed to the young driver programme and to the Alpine Academy.”

At the forefront of the Academy is Australian racer Jack Doohan, who tested with Alpine in Abu Dhabi. Szafnauer confirmed his plans for 2023.

“Next year, he’ll be in F2  again,” he said.

“So he’ll be part of the Alpine family going forward, but his focus for next year will be to win the F2 championship.”

Doohan will have to face fellow Alpine Academy member Victor Martins, who steps up to F2 after winning the F3 title, while Olli Caldwell and Caio Collet are the other two drivers currently on Alpine’s books – there could yet be changes made to their roster ahead of the 2023 season.

Read More: Otmar Szafnauer – Ocon and Gasly a better Alpine pairing than Ocon and Piastri