Lewis Hamilton’s Ferrari move could open the F1 door for Alpine hopeful

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton arrives at Suzuka.

Lewis Hamilton arrives in the paddock at the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix.

As Formula 1’s musical chairs play out, Jack Doohan is hoping Esteban Ocon will get Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes seat as that could open the door for him to secure an Alpine drive.

Last week Hamilton sent Formula 1’s silly season into a spin as the Briton announced this year would be his last with Mercedes.

Moving to Ferrari in a multi-year deal, Mercedes are now in the hunt for a new driver with Ocon said to be among those in the running.

Esteban Ocon to Mercedes, Jack Doohan at Alpine?

The Frenchman is a former Mercedes junior, who filled the role of the team’s reserve driver in 2019 after losing his Racing Point seat to Lance Stroll, before cutting ties with the team at the end of 2019 in order to move to Alpine (then competing under the Renault banner).

Ocon – whose current contract is due to expire at the end of this season along with team-mate Pierre Gasly – still has “strong links with Mercedes”, as he pointed out at the launch of Alpine’s A524 earlier this week.

“I’m still a Merc junior driver,” he said. “This has always been [the case], even if I’m not that junior anymore. I’m still contracted with them at some stage. So, it is how it is. We will see.

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“At the moment, I’m totally dedicated to Alpine. That’s my focus. I need to do a good job on track as always.

“Every year is a crucial year in F1 because it doesn’t matter if you have a contract or not. If you don’t perform, you can be out. That’s how it is.

“If you do a strong job there will be always talks, rumours and good things for you. As long as we talk about you, it means that what you do on track is good.”

Ocon, though, isn’t the only driver relishing in his Mercedes rumours. So too is Alpine reserve driver Doohan.

This season the Aussie will focus entirely on his Alpine commitments after opting not to continue in Formula 2, where he was classified fourth in the standings last season.

With his full focus on Alpine, his father and motorcycle legend Mick Doohan is hoping that as the musical chairs play out Doohan will find himself landing an Alpine race seat.

“I believe that he’ll end up in a position somewhere next year, but at this point in time, there’s still a bit of work to be done, so he can’t give up the dream or the goal of trying to reach that seat,” he told 9News.

“I believe he is ready, and he believes he is ready, and I think the team believes he is ready… the only thing is there are no seats.”

Ocon is by no means the only driver rumoured to be in line for Hamilton’s seat – in fact, he’s not even the favourite amongst F1 pundits.

Those are Carlos Sainz, which would be a straight swap with Hamilton, and Fernando Alonso, who is out of contract with Aston Martin at the end of this season.

Sebastian Vettel’s name has also been mentioned a few times since the news of Hamilton’s Ferrari switch emerged.

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