Short a driver for next season and determined to get Pierre Gasly, Otmar Szafnauer says Red Bull were “true to their word” throughout their negotiations.
Losing Fernando Alonso to Aston Martin as Formula 1 headed off for its summer break in August, Alpine were quick to promote reserve driver Oscar Piastri only for the Australian to turn them down.
Having already signed with McLaren, that went to F1’s Contract Recognition Board who ruled Piastri is a McLaren driver from 2023 onwards.
That sent Alpine into a bit of a spin with the team going from three drivers to just one but, having laid out their criteria for Esteban Ocon’s team-mate, Szafnauer put Gasly on his short list.
The only problem, he was a contracted AlphaTauri driver for 2023.
Entering negotiations with Red Bull and AlphaTauri for his release, the two parties eventually confirmed Gasly’s move on Saturday at the Suzuka circuit.
“Well, there are a few elements to all that, but what I can tell you is that it was really straightforward working with Franz [Tost], Helmut [Marko] and Christian [Horner] in securing Pierre’s future,” he said as per Motorsport.com.
“They were very correct and true to their word and did exactly what they said they were going to do, and it was a pleasure working with them.”
Szafnauer is happy to know Alpine’s 2023 line up, just over two months after it fell apart, is finally secure.
“It’s great going forward,” he said. “This is for next year. So we still have this year to focus on, which we need to do, we need to do a good job.
“But it’s good to know that next year is sorted and we can get on with this year, and also prepare for next.”
Pierre Gasly has signed a multi-year deal to join Alpine in 2023 #F1
"I know the strengths of Alpine having raced against them over the past couple of years and, clearly, their progress and ambition is very impressive.”https://t.co/AXL9Nn78Ns
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) October 8, 2022
As for why Alpine set their sights on Gasly, Szafnauer says the 26-year-old Frenchman ticked all their boxes.
“As everyone knows, we had a seat available after or around the summer break,” he said, “and then we started looking around as to who would be a best fit, and we had some criteria to work to.
“The three things we wanted were naturally speed, a fast driver, one with experience, and also youth at the same time.
“And adding all three things up there aren’t many people that have all that and Pierre definitely does.
“We thought he was a great fit for us. So we put him on our shortlist, and then went about getting it done.”
The team boss then had a little dig at both Alonso and Piastri, adamant Gasly has something both of them are missing.
“He’s got youth, experience and speed,” he said, “and that’s difficult to say for a lot of drivers that are still within F1, even.
“Even the other two that you mentioned [Alonso and Piastri] didn’t have those things. So we’re fortunate to secure Pierre, and look forward to working with him.”
Gasly arrives at the team as a grand prix winner, P1 at the 2020 Italian Grand Prix.