The Alpine F1 team have made clear their intention to retain Esteban Ocon for 2022, while also stating that they have no plans to try and poach Pierre Gasly from AlphaTauri.
“Esteban is doing everything to make me consider keeping him in the team," Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi told select media including Motorsport.com and Crash.net in Monaco on Thursday.
"I would be remiss if I didn’t think about it," he said. “Esteban is a great driver, so I’m happy to have that type of problem - which is not actually!
“We knew he's extremely talented,” he continued. "He's been racing against all of the drivers, or most of the drivers, when he was younger.
"He was always consistently beating them most of the time, so I knew he had a lot of talent," he said. “It's the second year, so he's started having good references in the team.
"We also made some modifications to his own team and the way we build up the race weekends and the qualification, so it shows the guy's talent. I think he's where he should be, which is good.
“At the moment, we are already engaged in some conversations with his agent, his management team, Mercedes at large," he added, acknowledging that Ocon's long-time ties with the German manufacturer meant he was in with a chance of a seat with the world champions.
There had been speculation that Alpine may try to sign Pierre Gasly to boost their French national credentials, but Rossi shot down that suggestion.
“Pierre is obviously a great driver of value, but at the moment this is not on the cards, I would say," he insisted. "We’re not looking at any drivers for next year.
"At the moment I’m considering obviously Esteban as we mentioned earlier on, [and] Fernando [Alonso] is here next year with us," he said. "If we want to carry on on the momentum we have, we’ll do that.
Ocon was only 14th fastest in Thursday afternoon practice in Monaco, while his team mate Alonso was 12th.
"We didn’t figure out everything, but we’ll go through and analyse that tonight and also tomorrow on the free day," Ocon said.
"We’ll be working hard to find those tenths we’re missing at the moment. There’s also a little bit more to come from me in terms of pushing the car to the limit.
Alonso said that it had been "an intense day" on Thursday as was usually the case in Monaco. "There are a lot of things to analyse as we tried some new updates, but we’ll look over it tonight and tomorrow and aim to be strong for qualifying.
"Traffic management will be difficult, and we saw a snapshot of how tough it is to have a clean lap here in both the morning and afternoon sessions. Managing this well could be key to a good qualifying position on Saturday.”