Alonso revelation a bitter blow for Aussie star
Alonso is in the final year of his Alpine contract, and will turn 41 during the season. Piastri, who won the F2 title last year, is Alpine’s reserve driver and widely expected to be promoted to a race seat in 2023.
With the team’s other driver, Esteban Ocon, contracted for a further two seasons, Piastri would need to replace Alonso if he’s to take his place on the grid with Alpine.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, Alonso indicated he’s keen to hang around at Alpine for a while longer.
“I will race, I guess, a couple more years, two or three more years,” Alonso said. “If it is with Alpine it will be good, if it is with another team it will be good as well, but I will find out and I will start these discussions probably in summer. Let’s see.”
Alonso was world champion in 2005 and 2006, and maintains he’s driving as well as ever.
“I think obviously if I was 25 there will not be this talk, it’s an age thing, that people try to find a way for the young talents, but I think this is about performance,” he said. “Last year I think I did well, I finished slightly in front of Esteban, let’s see this year how the battle goes.
“But this is about performance not about age, and I will as I said, at the beginning of the year, I still feel competitive and fast and feel I am enjoying time in Formula 1.”
Asked for his thoughts on Piastri, Alonso played a straight bat.
“He is a good guy, obviously very talented,” the Spaniard said.
“He won all the junior categories until now, which obviously shows that he has talent and is very professional and hard working in the simulator and in the factory.
“He is still very young. And hopefully he finds a seat soon.”
Speaking to Wide World of Sports earlier this year, Piastri said he won’t accept a reserve driver role beyond this year.
“It’s in Alpine’s hands, but we’re both very clear with each other that we want to make this just one year on the sidelines as the reserve driver,” he said.
“I’ve certainly made it very clear that I want to be on the grid in 2023. So it’s up to Alpine how they manage that.
“I’ve done what I can on the track to prove myself. So it’s very much up to up to them to to work that out.”
Piastri’s manager, Mark Webber, played a key role in negotiating the reserve driver deal between Piastri and Alpine, and says everything he saw during those discussions confirmed that the team is keen to promote the Australian into a race seat in 2023.
“Absolutely. That’s all the indications we have. They’re very, very excited to have him in their camp, they don’t want to see him go,” Webber told Wide World of Sports prior to the season.
“Of course, there’s also very, very interested parties from other teams as well, which is flattering, but obviously he’s now under contract to Alpine and they’re lucky to have him.
“He’s done the work. He’s ticked every box they’ve asked him to tick, more than every box is ticked, he’s invented other boxes to tick! So that’s great. Now it’s up to them now to to make sure that they deliver on getting him into F1.”
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