Alpine prefers experienced driver in 2023, but Doohan an F1 option

Alpine says its preference is to go for an experienced Formula 1 driver as Fernando Alonso’s replacement next year, but says Formula 2 race winner Jack Doohan is a contender.

Alpine prefers experienced driver in 2023, but Doohan an F1 option

The Enstone-based squad remains on the lookout for a team-mate for Esteban Ocon for 2023 after Alonso elected to jump ship to Aston Martin and its reserve Oscar Piastri signed for McLaren.

Alpine has set its sights on a deal to take Pierre Gasly from AlphaTauri, but Red Bull, which owns the Frenchman’s contract, says it will only release him if it gets hold of IndyCar driver Colton Herta.

The chances of a Herta deal getting put in place are looking increasingly slim, though, with the American needing a superlicence and hopes of him being given exemption from the FIA appear to be fading.

There are scant few other experienced options for Alpine who are on the market. Daniel Ricciardo still has no firm plan for 2023, but he left the then Renault team under a cloud at the end of 2020, while Nico Hulkenberg could be a good fit but is in the twilight of his career.

That is why youngsters like Doohan, who is part of Alpine’s Academy, and Nyck de Vries, who impressed in a debut outing for Williams last weekend, also have a chance.

Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi said the priority for the team was to secure a driver who would score points from the off, rather than need time to build himself up.

“We need to find a driver that's capable of scoring big points right away,” said Rossi, when asked by Autosport about the type of driver Alpine was looking for.

“This basically leads us towards a more senior driver if you will, but at the same that is capable to grow with us. So those are the criteria we use at the moment.

“Otmar [Szafnauer] is leading the process: seeing all of the drivers discussing with them, assessing options, assessing them here, potentially assessing them in tests. So I guess it's going to be a process that is going to last a little bit.

“We want to make the right decision and there's no hurry.”

Jack Doohan, Virtuosi Racing

Jack Doohan, Virtuosi Racing

Photo by: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Doohan did his chances of getting a race seat at Alpine in 2023 no harm at Monza last weekend when he took pole position for the feature race.

Pushed on whether the Australian was on the team’s radar, Rossi said: “Yeah, absolutely.

“Jack certainly has a very good sense of timing, because he's performing immensely at the moment.

“To be honest, we knew already he was very fast, the raw speed he has, but he has gained in maturity a lot. It shows on the track, but also off track.

“I mean, the conversations we have are very impressive. I think something clicked; he made a step, which is really good.”

However, despite the praise, Rossi still thinks it would be better for someone like Doohan to have a year or two away from the pressure of a top team to learn the ropes at a smaller outfit.

“Irrespective of his value, we still believe that the best path for a young driver is to potentially go in a team where you have a bit of less pressure to deliver,” added Rossi.

“I'd rather have him damage his first wing somewhere else; find his limits in a new car, because the step is big from an F2 to an F1.

“It’s what everyone does elsewhere. That's why George [Russell], despite his amazing talents, same pedigree, and Charles [Leclerc] as well, they need to basically hone their skills in a big machine that is much faster than the F2 for a year or two. So that's the plan for Jack.

“That's not to say we're not considering him, because his run of form is impressive. So we're looking at him.

“But again, we are still keeping in mind the main criteria, which is being ready to score points right away, and help us continue growing by developing the car.

“So we need someone who's capable of showing the way alongside Esteban. We can't develop a car on only one side of the garage.”

shares
comments

Related video

Norris: Monza recovery after issues “one of my best F1 races”
Previous article

Norris: Monza recovery after issues “one of my best F1 races”

Next article

F1 teams failed to agree on plan to stop races ending under safety car

F1 teams failed to agree on plan to stop races ending under safety car
How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive Plus

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive

Glory days for Tyrrell became increasingly infrequent
 after Jackie Stewart’s retirement. But in the latest instalment of his history of the team for Autosport's sister title GP Racing, 
MAURICE HAMILTON recalls how Ken Tyrrell’s plucky and defiantly small team stayed bold enough to innovate – springing a surprise with F1’s first six-wheeled car

The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start Plus

The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start

While it launched the F1 career 
of a future world champion, STUART CODLING recalls that the BT60 was also the final nail in the coffin of a once-great marque 30 years ago. Here is its story

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2022
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star Plus

The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy Plus

How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Plus

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022