According to Italian media, Alpine may be making moves to sign a driver who is coming up to contract negotiation time with his current team.
Rumours have recently emerged that Charles Leclerc has signed a new deal with Ferrari, although this contract extension is yet to be confirmed by the Scuderia or the Monegasque.
Leclerc is under contract until the end of 2024, with his new deal rumoured as being a “2+3”, meaning two years confirmed, with an option on his services for a further three years after that. With such a long-term deal in place, Italian media have speculated his teammate Carlos Sainz will be looking elsewhere…
Could Carlos Sainz be off to Alpine?
Sainz, whose deal with Ferrari expires at the conclusion of 2024, is reported by Italian media to have asked the Scuderia for the same conditions as Leclerc.
According to Funo Analisi Tecnica, negotiations are ongoing, with Sainz’s motorsport veteran father Carlos Snr. helping to sound out alternative possibilities on the grid should Ferrari not work out.
One of these options, according to the report, is Alpine. Both Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly have to re-negotiate their contracts during 2024 and, with the team going through a revolutionary period with changes in top-level staff, one or both drivers may end up being replaced – leaving a potential door open for Sainz.
“The French team has every intention of “maturing” and, to do so, they may have identified a driver as fast, reliable, and with as much desire to find his own dimension as the Madrileno [Sainz],” claims the report.
“A space that in Ferrari, on its precise conditions (equal treatment) – with Leclerc present – he is unlikely to ever have.”
Is Mattia Binotto a target for Alpine?
Adding further fuel to the possibility is the suggestion that Mattia Binotto could be the target of the Renault Group to take over from the ousted Otmar Szafnauer.
With Alpine replacing the now-departed Szafnauer with an interim boss in the form of Alpine vice-president of motorsport Bruno Famin, a long-term strategy is needed – and Binotto fits the bill as a free agent with copious experience of leading a team – whether it be departmental or in its entirety.
Sainz was signed by Binotto to Ferrari back in 2020, linking up with Binotto from 2021.
“If the scenario just described were to take shape, [Sainz] could find an old friend of his,” claims the report.
“A bespectacled engineer who has always supported him by believing in his abilities. Yes, we are talking about Mr. ‘We must understand’ who perhaps, wandering among his wine estates, has matured the desire to get back into the game.
“And why not, perhaps even with a companion like Carlos? A partnership that has already been verified and is partly functional, combining the aforementioned desire for redemption.”
But Famin has downplayed the possibility of rushing to sign Binotto, despite their current lack of a long-term leader.
“We are not at that stage,” he said.
“I’m going to, with all my direct reports, assess what the situation is. Think about what are the priorities set in stone to consolidate and we will define if we need a new structure or not and when that will be done.”