Alpine will likely make a call on Fernando Alonso’s future with the team after the triple-header of F1 races at Spa, Zandvoort, and Monza later this summer, says team principal Otmar Szafnauer.
A couple of months ago, it had been reported that Alpine would choose between the two-time champion and the highly-rated reserve driver Oscar Piastri around the time of the British Grand Prix. However, Szafnauer now says that the timeframe for making that decision is still a little while away.
“If I said we’d make the Alonso decision around this time, I misspoke,” Szafnauer told Top Gear prior to qualifying at Silverstone. “What I meant to say was we’re going to start thinking about that decision about this time, and usually those decisions are made after the [summer] break.”
He added: “We are starting to think about that and we’ll probably decide… maybe even after the triple-header which is mid-September, which is normal for a lot of the teams.”
Alonso returned to F1 with Alpine at the beginning of 2021 having taken a two-year break away from the sport—most notably winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice in that time—and his second full-time stint has so far yielded a single podium finish in Qatar last season.
A third campaign with the French outfit would see him welcome his 42nd birthday as a full-time F1 driver: He’s already on course to break Kimi Raikkonen’s record for total race starts (349) later in 2022.
Alonso has impressed lately after a tricky start to the season, unexpectedly joining Max Verstappen on the front row of the grid at the Canadian GP after a masterful display in a treacherously wet qualifying session.
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Alpine’s other option is to promote reserve driver Piastri: The Aussie, 21, won the Formula 3 and Formula 2 junior categories in consecutive years in 2020 and 2021, but wasn’t given the chance to jump straight into F1 this season. Szafnauer said recently that he expected Piastri to earn a full race seat in 2023, although reports suggest he’s in the frame to replace Nicholas Latifi at Williams.
Alpine’s other seat is locked down until the end of 2024: Esteban Ocon signed a long-term contract with the team last year, and soon repaid that faith by landing his maiden F1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix last season.
Do you want to see Alonso carry on, or is ‘El Plan’ doomed to fail?
NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.
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