Fernando Alonso says he would be open to taking a seat at a front-running team next season – even if it meant going up against an established ‘number one’ driver.
Alonso’s contract with Alpine expires at the end of this season and talks are due to begin over his future with the team from July, with reserve driver and Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri waiting in the wings for an opportunity next year.
The two-time former World Champion has made no secret of the fact he wants to continue in Formula 1 beyond the end of this year and is still searching for a third title which has eluded him for the past 16 years.
“I think so,” Alonso told Sky F1 when asked if a third World Championship is within his capabilities. “That’s why I keep racing, you know?
“There is still always the hope that one year you will have the package and you will have the, you know, all things together to fight for the championship. I still feel competitive and I’m fast.”
The Alpine A522 is unlikely to yield World Championship success for him this season though, despite being in contention for pole position in Australia and looking in the battle in the midfield.
Alonso admitted only Red Bull and Ferrari are contesting wins though, despite Formula 1’s new range of cars having been brought in with the intention of closing up the pack.
Red Bull would be his only plausible destination at the front of the grid if he should leave Alpine, given both Ferrari and Mercedes drivers are contracted on multi-year deals as it stands – with only Sergio Perez’s Red Bull deal up for renewal in 2022.
Although Max Verstappen is widely seen as top dog within Red Bull, given the opportunity Alonso would not say ‘no’ to the chance of driving a top car again – even if it meant going up against another ‘alpha’ presence of the sport.
“Yeah, sure,” he confirmed when asked if he would take on the challenge. “I think at the end of the day there are not many number one, two drivers in any team right now.
“All the teams need both drivers to work together and to improve the car, especially with the new regulations.
“You still learn every lap you do and you have to work towards a better car, a better package. So let’s see what are the possibilities into the next few years.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was quick to shut down any thoughts of Alonso heading to his team, however, quickly bursting the bubble on an Alonso-Verstappen partnership in 2023.
“That’s news to me!” he exclaimed on Sky F1 when presented with the rumour during Friday practice in Miami.
“We are very happy with the drivers we’ve got here. Fernando’s a great driver, it’s fantastic he’s still in Formula 1 and given the plus 40 [age], he’s something to aspire to – but he doesn’t fit part of our plans.”