Alonso primed for Alpine LMDh seat once F1 stint ends

Alpine plans to hand Fernando Alonso a drive in its LMDh programme, leading to him returning to the 24 Hours of Le Mans once his Formula 1 career is over.

Alonso primed for Alpine LMDh seat once F1 stint ends

Two-time F1 world champion Alonso enjoyed his first foray into sportscar racing in 2018, linking up with Toyota’s LMP1 programme to win Le Mans outright in 2018 and 2019, as well as the World Endurance Championship title.

Upon returning to F1 in 2021, Alonso dropped all other outside racing commitments, but has always been clear about his desire to return to Le Mans in the future.

Alpine has been racing in WEC’s Hypercar category since 2021 with a grandfathered LMP1 car, but is set to embark on a new LMDh programme from 2024, entering two cars to the series in collaboration with Signatech.

The programme is set to operate in tandem with the F1 operation, which has raced under the Alpine banner since 2021 when Renault’s works team was rebranded.

#36 Alpine Elf Team Alpine A480 - Gibson of Andre Negrao, Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere

#36 Alpine Elf Team Alpine A480 - Gibson of Andre Negrao, Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere

Photo by: Morgese / Gandolfi

Alpine boss Laurent Rossi has previously said Alonso would be an option for its WEC team, but revealed on Saturday in France that talks about a future switch to the marque’s LMDh squad was part of ongoing discussions surrounding a new F1 deal for the Spaniard.

“It’s always been part of the discussion, last year even when we were discussing for the renewal for this year,” Rossi said when asked about talks by Autosport.

“We talked about the fact that Fernando is a legend of the sport, but also a legend of the Renault Group. For us, he’s the champion.

“He was always going to have a seat in LMDh the day he switches, he will be welcome, it’s his team. So obviously this is part of the discussion.

“We actually made that decision [to embark on the programme] also thinking about him in the first place.”

Alonso has shown little sign of wishing to call time on his F1 career despite being the oldest driver on the grid at 40, stating on multiple occasions that he thinks 2022 is his most competitive season in a decade.

Oscar Piastri, Alpine Academy

Oscar Piastri, Alpine Academy

Photo by: Alpine

Rossi is confident both Alonso and Alpine’s reserve driver, Oscar Piastri, will be on the F1 grid next season, with Piastri likely to get loaned out to another team. 

Piastri rose through Alpine’s junior ranks by winning the F2 and F3 titles in consecutive years before spending this year in a reserve role.

Alpine currently has two academy drivers in Formula 2 - Jack Doohan and Olli Caldwell - as well as Caio Collet and Victor Martins racing in Formula 3.

Rossi said that Alpine wanted to take a “rationalised approach” towards the academy, noting that the LMDh programme could also create some driving opportunities for its juniors beyond F2.

“There’s plenty of options for them to be in the waiting seat [before F1],” Rossi said.

“Reserve [driver] of course is one. We’re going to have LMDh soon available.

“So we feel like we can manage this pipeline of drivers than we have done in the very recent past, where we have a flurry of good talent and not enough seats.

“That is what we’re going to try and do.”

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