Szafnauer dismisses suggestion of Alonso being replaced mid-season

F1: Racing News 365

Otmar Szafnauer has ruled out the possibility of dropping Fernando Alonso mid-season from Alpine after he signed with Aston Martin.

					Szafnauer dismisses suggestion of Alonso being replaced mid-season

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Otmar Szafnauer has rubbished suggestions that Alpine could decide to drop Fernando Alonso mid-season ahead of his defection to Formula 1 rivals Aston Martin.

Alonso announced on 1 August that he had signed a long-term deal with Aston Martin to replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel from the 2023 season, leaving Alpine scrambling to find a replacement.

The team initially stated that reserve driver Oscar Piastri would be promoted to join Esteban Ocon, but the Australian is set for an F1 debut with McLaren.

Despite the bombshell nature of Alonso’s departure from the team (then called Renault), which he has represented in three spells and won his two titles with, Szafnauer admitted to no hard feelings and confirmed that the driver would remain until the end of the season.

Alonso to remain at Alpine until the end of the season

Szafnauer, who joined Alpine from Aston Martin/Racing Point, was speaking to Spanish publication El Confidencial when he confirmed the 2005 and 2006 World Champion Alonso would stay put.

“Not at all, why [would we replace him?]” he responded when asked if there had been talks about replacing the 41-year-old.

“He is a great driver and he is performing at a very high level.

“Fernando is one of the best assests we have, and with Fernando and Esteban scoring points every weekend, that is what can lead us to beat McLaren [for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship].

Alonso has 41 points at the summer break compared to Ocon’s 58, with some early-season unreliability and bad luck hampering the veteran.

He has, however, equalled Alpine’s best result of the 2022 campaign with fifth in Great Britain to go along with Ocon in Austria.

Alonso also posted a front row start at the Canadian Grand Prix in wet conditions – although he fell back to ninth in the race.

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Alonso remains as committed and driven as ever, says Szafnauer

Provided he takes part in every Grand Prix prior to it, Alonso will make his 350th start at the Singapore Grand Prix, eclipsing Kimi Raikkonen’s record.

And despite more than 20 years in F1, and the fact that he is off to another team for 2023, Szafanuer is convinced Alonso remains as committed as ever.

“I get along very well with him from day one, and it is because he is a competitor – something I like a lot,” said Szafnauer.

“I am hugely competitive and similar to Fernando. There is nothing more I want than to achieve results – it is what motivates me. I hate to lose, and see the same in Alonso.

“That trait we have in common means that working together is very easy, and the relationship between now and the end of the year is going to be focused on beating McLaren.

“We have to be fourth in the championship. I don’t think we can beat Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, but we can improve and get closer to Mercedes.

“It doesn’t matter if he foes to Aston Martin next year. Once you put your helmet on, you want to do your best – and I am the same.”

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