Alpine lay out their criteria for Fernando Alonso’s replacement
Alpine have put Mick Schumacher and Nico Hulkenberg on their list of potential candidates for 2023, Otmar Szafnauer saying they want a driver with “experience and speed”.
That rules out the rookies with Formula 2 driver Jack Doohan recently linked to Fernando Alonso’s soon-to-be vacant seat.
It wasn’t that long ago Alpine believed they were spoilt for choice when it came to their 2023 driver line up with Alonso, Esteban Ocon and Oscar Piastri all wanting a seat.
But within the space of 72 hours the team went from three drivers to just one, suggestions that Alpine have been the makers of their own demise.
The team refused to offer Alonso want he wanted, a multi-year deal, which meant when Aston Martin made that offer he jumped ship.
The team believed they’d be okay, almost immediately announcing reserve driver Piastri as his replacement only for F1’s Contract Recognition Board to rule he’s a 2023 McLaren driver.
The team now needs to find a new team-mate for Ocon.
Having previously stated there’s a shortlist of some “14 drivers”, Szafnauer was asked specifically about Formula 1’s German drivers – Schumacher and Hulkenberg.
Schumacher is out of contract with Haas at the end of this season, the German also said to be cutting ties with Ferrari’s junior programme, while Hulkenberg is Aston Martin’s reserve driver after failing to rejoin the grid.
“We’re also talking to the German drivers. I get along well with both of them, both are extremely fast. But we have yet to make a decision,” the team boss told Sky Deutschland.
“In addition to Esteban, we need someone with experience and speed. Let’s say our list also includes the German drivers.”
That means no rookies are on his shortlist, Szafnauer ruling out a quick promotion for Alpine junior driver Doohan who spent this season competing in Formula 2.
Doohan had of late replaced Pierre Gasly as Alpine’s number one choice, at least when it came to Formula 1’s rumour mill with several publications linking him to Alonso’s seat while Gasly’s hopes of a move have faded.
With his current team AlphaTauri making it clear they want Colton Herta and only Colton Herta as his replacement, the IndyCar driver’s shortfall in superlicence points is the sticking point.
Alpine, though, are still keen on Gasly.
“Of course we have a list of candidates and Pierre is also on this list,” Szafnauer said. “All good drivers are on our list.”
“Herta’s superlicence is certainly also a decisive factor. But we have to wait for the decision of the FIA. The rules for the superlicence should also include exceptions in certain situations.”
1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve has urged Alpine to gamble on Doohan, believing the Aussie has the attributes needed to thrive in Formula 1.
“Why not take a chance with Doohan? Instead of spending a year preparing him like they did with Piastri, just put him in the deep end and see what happens,” he told F1 TV.
“Doohan comes with a good background – like Sainz, that really gets the right mindset to be at the top level and survive under pressure.”