There is no shortage of candidates to fill Fernando Alonso's seat at Alpine for 2023, with the French outfit's list of prospects currently including 14 names, according to team boss Otmar Szafnauer.
After the announcement in early August of Alonso's transfer to Aston Martin and in the wake of Oscar Piastri's move to McLaren and the split between the papaya squad and Daniel Ricciardo, the latter seemed like Alpine's most probable choice to fill its vacant 2023 seat alongside Esteban Ocon.
But in the past week, Alpine's priority has reportedly switched to Pierre Gasly, with the Enstone squad holding talks with Red Bull over a potential early release of the Frenchman from his contractual obligations with AlphaTauri.
However, with Gasly's potential transfer to Alpine now contingent on the FIA granting a superlicence exemption to Colton Herta, the French outfit has expanded its short list of candidates to 14 names!
"We just want to understand all those that are available," Szafnauer told Sky Sports F1. "We’ve got a long list. I’ve mentioned 14 before and it’s about right.
"Now we’ve got to whittle that down to three or four and then look at all those and see which one’s the best fit."
Piastri's defection to McLaren, the reasons for which are now well understood, has highlighted Alpine's lack of oversight in terms of it managed its junior driver.
Szafnauer admitted that there were certainly a few lessons to take away from the drama involving the young Australian talent, but it is also undeniable that the shenanigans have put a competitive F1 seat on the market.
“I think the right thing is we have to have a retrospective look as in what we can do better, learn from it, and we will do that in the future," said the American.
"But secondarily it opens up a seat now, probably the best seat open in F1. Now we’ve got to do a good job in finding the right driver."