Alpine team boss Bruno Famin said contract talks with Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon began before the Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari bombshell, but decisions remain pending.
While the grid remained remarkably stable between the end of 2023 and F1 2024, with not one driver change, ‘silly season’ has come early thanks to the shock announcement that Hamilton will move to Ferrari from 2025.
That means Mercedes suddenly has a prime seat up for grabs, with team boss Toto Wolff confirming to media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher that any driver from a rookie to an experienced F1 star could become Hamilton’s replacement at this stage.
Alpine were already scouting F1 driver market
Alpine houses two potential options in Gasly and former Mercedes junior Ocon, who both are out of contract as it stands come the end of the season.
Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com’s Sam Cooper at the Alpine A524 launch, Famin said the team did not wait until Hamilton to Ferrari to start assessing their driver options, though Gasly and Ocon remain potential Mercedes targets as no decision has yet been taken.
“We have not waited for Hamilton going to Ferrari to talk to our drivers,” said Famin. “We’re talking currently to our drivers.
“I’m very happy of the relationship we have with them, with the communication we have with them, and with the job they’re doing – we are happy with our drivers.
“We of course have a look on the drivers market. We have also our academy and this is our duty to see what is going on, and to know what is going on.
“We are on that, but there is no decision at all yet, our priority is much more focused in developing the car and the team, and we are confident with our drivers.
“They know what we think, they know also how Formula 1 works. There is no duplicity, and that’s why it’s important to talk regularly to each other, to put everything on the table.
“Again, I think we’re happy with them. I understand, let’s wait for the first race and the performance of the car, but I understand they are happy with the team, then let’s talk a bit later about that.”
Alpine also now has former Haas racer and Mercedes reserve Mick Schumacher in their ranks, having signed him for their World Endurance Championship Hypercar assault.
That led to Famin responding “Mick as well!” when pressed on whether Ocon’s past Mercedes links could make him a contender to move to Brackley, Famin confirming he does not know whether there is any chance of that.
“I don’t know if he has a potential opportunity, ask Toto,” said Famin. “I don’t know if he’s on the list to be honest, let’s see. Let’s talk about that later.”
Pre-season testing is now fast approaching, the three-day test between February 21-23 preceding the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on March 2.