Antonio Giovinazzi has reportedly been added to the pool of drivers who will take part in Alpine’s private test at the Hungaroring.
Alpine have been left in a situation which they perhaps did not expect when it comes to their driver situation for 2023.
First Fernando Alonso announced that he would switch to Aston Martin, and when Alpine tried to confirm that Oscar Piastri would step up from his reserve role to replace him, the Aussie instead denied that this would be the case. He is off to McLaren instead.
This then has left Alpine with a vacancy that they must fill, with Motorsport.com reporting that the French manufacturer will be conducting a private test at the Hungaroring, host of the Hungarian Grand Prix, with their 2021 challenger before Formula 1 returns to action for the Singapore GP from 30 September – 2 October.
The drivers rumoured to be appearing in the test are Alpine junior Jack Doohan, Nyck de Vries and AlphaTauri-linked Colton Herta, with Giovinazzi now said to have been added to the fold.
Giovinazzi, the former Alfa Romeo driver who contested FP1 for Haas at Monza, has made it clear that he wants to be a part of the grid in 2023.
Motorsport.com report that the test is seen as an opportunity to get Herta behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car in a bid to aid his pursuit of a superlicence, as he currently falls short of the 40 points required.
Alpine are not interested in signing Herta, but the reported belief is that by helping him towards achieving a superlicence – Red Bull’s goal as they are looking to assign Herta to AlphaTauri – then it opens the door for Alpine to pick up their apparent prime target Pierre Gasly.
Experience is what Alpine are after
Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi would explain that Alpine are not interested in a rookie driver, (sorry, Jack Doohan) but instead want to bring in a driver who has experience and can be hoovering up points from the start.
“We need to find a driver that’s capable of scoring big points right away,” Rossi told Motosport.com.
“This basically leads us towards a more senior driver if you will, but at the same that is capable to grow with us. So those are the criteria we use at the moment.
“Otmar [Szafnauer, team principal] is leading the process, seeing all of the drivers, discussing with them, assessing options, assessing them here, potentially assessing them in tests. So, I guess it’s going to be a process that is going to last a little bit.
“We want to make the right decision and there’s no hurry.”
Who else could join the Alpine test?
Even if the ultimate aim is to push Herta over the line for his superlicence so that they can snare Gasly, Alpine would put themselves in a promising position regardless of what the outcome is on that front, as they would have a pool of data on experienced racers to pick from as a Gasly alternative.
This test really would offer Alpine the best of both worlds, but who else could we realistically see take part?
Nico Hulkenberg and Mick Schumacher are also being linked with that Alpine vacancy for 2023 with Szafnauer recently confirmed that he is speaking to the pair of “German drivers” – but reports are beginning to circulate that Schumacher is not being considered for the test despite being Esteban Ocon’s preferred choice as team-mate.
Hulkenberg, who drove for the Enstone team when they were known as Renault and is also believed to be on Haas’ radar, has 181 race starts under his belt so far in Formula 1, so certainly ticks the box for experience. He also knows how to pick up points on a consistent basis.
With Felipe Drugovich now signed-up at Aston Martin, that suggests Hulkenberg will lose his reserve driver role with the Silverstone squad after 2022, freeing him up for Alpine’s consideration.
Don’t be surprised to see Daniel Ricciardo take part either, the Aussie set to leave McLaren at the end of 2022 and currently without any racing commitments beyond this season.
Even 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve tested Alpine’s 2021 car after the Italian GP, though that came about through his relationship with broadcaster Canal+, so we can probably rule him out of making a sensational return!