Alpine may have lost a huge Formula 1 figure with the departure of Fernando Alonso, but Otmar Szafnauer says there are no effects being felt.
Alonso was part of an intense Formula 1 ‘silly season’ in 2022, triggered by Sebastian Vettel’s announcement that he would retire at the end of the season, the Aston Martin seat that he would vacate ultimately filled by Alonso.
In his place the Alpine team has recruited Pierre Gasly, and though he alongside Esteban Ocon forms a wildly talented all-French line-up, it cannot be ignored that Alpine has lost the services of a multi-time World Champion, the most experienced F1 driver of all time, and someone in Alonso who is considered to still be operating as one of the very best on the grid.
But all that being said, Szafnauer is adamant that Alonso’s exit has not left a “hole” at Alpine.
“What I liked is the fact we had Fernando last year, very experienced, the most experienced racing driver in Formula 1, but I don’t see a hole or a lack of anything in the feedback we’ve been getting from our two drivers,” Szafnauer told media personnel, including PlanetF1.com.
“I think the feedback and the direction that we’re getting from the pair we have now is as good as we had last year.”
Jacques Villeneuve thinks Fernando Alonso is a “huge loss”
While Alpine are seemingly very happy with their Gasly-Ocon pairing, and are not reeling in any way from Alonso’s absence, 1997 World Champion Villeneuve cannot help but see Alonso’s exit as a blow for the Alpine team.
He also questioned the decision from Alpine to go with an all-French driver line-up.
“I think that Alpine will be very sad to not have Alonso anymore,” Villeneuve told PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher in an exclusive interview.
“That’s a huge loss. He was really pushing the team forward. And by doing that, he was helping Esteban as well be competitive and so on.
“Now, you have two French guys in a French team in an international sport. I don’t see the point.”
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Just how much Alpine do, or do not miss the presence of Alonso will determined over the F1 2023 season ahead, which kicks-off at the weekend with Round 1 in Bahrain.
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher