Drivers Lining Up To Replace Ocon, Gasly

Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2023
Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2023

Alpine can thrive even without its two current race drivers, team boss Bruno Famin insists.

Although the Renault-linked team is showing signs of emerging from its deep performance slump, there is no doubt that Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon have been looking around on the driver market.

Ocon hinted at Imola that he would accept even a one-year contract to drive for his manager Toto Wolff at Mercedes next year, while fellow Frenchman Gasly has been linked with Haas, Williams and Sauber.

“There is no pressure on us,” Famin said at Imola. “We are satisfied with our drivers, but right now we want to focus on the technical side of things. We can deal with the driver issue later.”

He insists that having an all-French driver lineup was never a priority.

“Alpine’s project is to become a global brand,” said Famin, who is French. “We are happy to have a French driver on the team, but we are just as happy to have others.”

Ocon and Gasly are also highly experienced F1 drivers, so losing that experience just when Alpine is needing to recover and build would be a blow.

“We are open to everything,” Famin said when asked about that.

“Naturally it’s good to have at least one experienced driver, but we’re happy to give young people a chance too, if the opportunity arises.”

Mick Schumacher, with two years of experience at Haas under his belt, is currently not only Mercedes’ F1 reserve, but races for Alpine in the French marque’s Le Mans program.

“Of course he is a possibility,” Famin said, “as are many others.

“Mick does an amazing job in endurance and his mentality is really impressive. He’s fast, of course, but I think everyone knows that, but what’s really incredible to me is how he’s been able to adapt to the mentality required in endurance.”

Another obvious candidate is Alpine reserve Jack Doohan.

The son of motorcycle racing legend Mick Doohan was at the wheel of a two-year old Alpine last week at Zandvoort – running a program that involved qualifying and grand prix simulations and even practice starts.

“I have to put in the kilometres and get used to race weekends,” the 21-year-old Australian rookie told the Dutch source NOS after the Zandvoort test.

“For now, I do my work on the track when I get the chance, but also the work off the track or in the simulator. That’s all I can do.

“I hope I’ll be in the car next year,” said Doohan. “Hopefully the guys see that I’m giving it my all.

“I have been with the team for a number of years, but this year I’m a full reserve driver with my full focus on this program. It would be nice to use that.”

Doohan concluded that he hopes the next time he is at Zandvoort is as an Alpine race driver.

“That would mean this test was worth it,” he smiled. “That’s what we work towards as drivers.”

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