Sky F1 reporter Craig Slater rubbished talk of Fernando Alonso replacing Sergio Perez at Red Bull or calling it quits as a Formula 1 driver.
For a time it seemed as though the F1 2023 ‘silly season’ concluded as one of the quietest the series has seen, though recent events have threatened to create a fresh spark.
While Red Bull has continued to shut down rumours that the out-of-form Perez could be replaced ahead of F1 2024, the rumour mill had been going wild to suggest otherwise.
Fernando Alonso not joining Red Bull to partner Max Verstappen
While the common rumour has been that Daniel Ricciardo is in-line to step up from AlphaTauri to Red Bull to replace Perez, a wilder claim began doing the rounds on social media suggesting that Alonso was Red Bull-bound, frustrated by the alarming decline in performance from Aston Martin in his first season with the team.
However, PlanetF1.com understands from sources within Red Bull that any and all driver-related rumours regarding the line-up for 2024 are wide of the mark, with Slater also shutting down the rumours linking Alonso to Red Bull.
“Can we get rid of the elephant in the room, which is Fernando Alonso potentially going to Red Bull next year to partner Max Verstappen,” Slater said on the Sky F1 podcast.
“My understanding is that that is a non-starter, that is not going to happen.
“As much as they admire Alonso at Red Bull and what he can do, he is not above [Daniel] Ricciardo, as far as I understand it, as an option to drive for that team next year.
“This is not coming officially from the team or anything like that, but it’s been out there on the internet, but that is not going to happen, as I understand that.
“From what I can gather, some senior well-placed people have told me that maybe Alonso’s management have been doing their due diligence again and have been assessing are there any other potentially better options for him next year?
“And perhaps that has been inflated into a he’s going to take Perez’s seat, rather than Ricciardo is. But I have it on pretty good authority, there’s no chance of that.”
Fernando Alonso not retiring either
It has certainly been a rough second-half to F1 2023 for Alonso, who after five podium finishes in the opening six rounds of the campaign, was talking about winning a race before the season was out.
Instead, what started as Aston Martin losing ground versus Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren in the development war, has spiralled to the point where Aston Martin now appear to be closer to the back of the grid than the front, despite upgrades introduced at the US Grand Prix.
However, Slater does not believe this is pushing the 42-year-old Alonso towards F1 retirement, while he also shut down speculation that Aston Martin team owner Lawrence Stroll is considering selling up.
“The other question though, is is he going to retire Alonso?” Slater added. “Is he so pessimistic about Aston next year that he might not carry on?
“As far as I understand it, the appetite for Aston Martin to continue with Alonso is still pretty strong too, nor do I understand that there’s any prospect of Lawrence Stroll selling up and quitting either, which has been a popular line of online exploration.
“So I think most likely he will continue with Aston Martin next year. I think that looks like, as far as I can ascertain at this point, what’s going to go on there.”
Having been in the conversation to deny Sergio Perez the runner-up spot in the Drivers’ Championship, Alonso has now dropped to fifth. Mercedes’ George Russell in P8 is only 32 points behind with three rounds of F1 2023 still to go.