Red Bull’s Helmut Marko has dropped the biggest hint yet that Pierre Gasly is being lined up for a move to Alpine.
The French team are on the lookout for another driver after Fernando Alonso’s departure followed by Oscar Piastri’s move to McLaren.
Alpine took the Piastri contract saga to the sport’s Contract Recognition Board but they sided with McLaren, who quickly announced the young Australian will be joining Lando Norris at the team in 2023.
After the game of F1 musical chairs which started when Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement in July, an empty seat has been left alongside Esteban Ocon at Alpine.
A seemingly increasingly likely name to fill that vacancy is Ocon’s fellow countryman Gasly who, despite having a contract with Red Bull and AlphaTauri until the end of 2023, has been linked with a move to Alpine.
That speculation became a lot more credible when on the opening day of the Dutch Grand Prix weekend, Red Bull advisor Marko stated if certain conditions were met, the team would not stand in Gasly’s way – but reiterated those conditions had yet to be fulfilled.
“We have a valid contract for 2023, but in the meantime there are talks,” Marko told Sky Germany, as reported by Autosport.
“If our conditions are met, we wouldn’t stand in Gasly’s way. It would be a dream come true for him to drive in a French factory team.
“But not all the conditions have been met yet.”
"I mean, I'm still working on the final details of the contract…"
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) September 1, 2022
Considering Alpine are the only French team on the grid, this leaves little room for speculation in terms of who Marko was referring to.
Gasly himself hinted a deal was in the works when he was overheard telling George Russell and Carlos Sainz at the Belgian Grand Prix he was “still working on the final details of the contract”, but has since come out to deny that had anything to do with Formula 1.
If Gasly were to depart, that would leave an open seat at AlphaTauri – and Marko said the team already have a contingency plan should that situation arise.
“We’ve already thought about that but we don’t want to announce that yet,” the 79-year-old said.
“We have some people in the junior squad who have a superlicence. For the reserve driver, we would recruit someone from that.”
Marko also hinted at Red Bull’s interest in American Colton Herta, who ran a test with McLaren, but said it was a case of “wait and see” in that regard.
“He has already done a Formula 1 test, he was good,” said Marko. “I don’t want to get into details. Let’s wait and see how this develops.”