Alpine F1 team principal Otmar Szafnauer has confirmed that talks with Fernando Alonso about a new deal to keep him with the team beyond 2022 are set to take place. The veteran Spaniard is out of contract at the end of the season and has given no indication that he plans to hang up his helmet anytime soon.
Alonso returned to F1 last season after a two-year hiatus from the sport, and was hoping to fight for race wins when the new era got underway in 2022. Alpine are not at the level of Red Bull Racing and Ferrari, who are the chief title contenders, but the French team are strong midfield contenders behind third-placed Mercedes.
The 40-year-old is still considered amongst the best drivers on the grid, and has shown his ability multiple times this season, especially in qualifying. However, the Spaniard has suffered reliability issues at crucial junctures, which has seen him score just two points in the opening five races.
Alonso’s long time friend and former F1 driver Pedro de la Rosa feels the two-time world champion has at least three to four years of racing left in him at the highest level. Moreover, Alonso has given no indication that he wants to walk away despite his early season struggles.
“I would be very surprised,” De la Rosa said, as quoted on Grand Prix. “He is 40 years old, but physically he is impeccable and he is doing some of his best races. He’s in shape and he’s eager and I can say that 24 hours a day he thinks only of four wheels.”
“Fernando still has three or four years in him,” the former F1 driver added.
Szafnauer confirmed that the team will discuss a new deal with Alonso after the British GP in Silverstone, but faces a dilemma with young driver Oscar Piastri within the team. The young Australian is highly rated and Alpine are keen to hand him a race seat in 2022, and they also have a long-term commitment with Esteban Ocon, who is Alonso’s current teammate.
The Alpine chief is also hopeful Alonso’s fortunes will turn around going forward, and confirmed that the car will have an upgrade package for the next race in Spain. The French outfit are currently sixth in the Constructors’ championship – 20 points behind fourth placed McLaren.