Alpine 'started driver talks before Hamilton announcement'

(L to R): Pierre Gasly (FRA) Alpine F1 Team and Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team at a team photograph. 25.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Qualifying Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images
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The Alpine F1 team says that it had opened talks with its current drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly before the news about Lewis Hamilton's move from Mercedes to Ferrari in 2025 was announced.

Ocon has a long history with Mercedes and is viewed by many as one of the leading candidates to take over Hamilton's seat, with the French driver out of contract at Alpine at the end of the season,

While the news about Hamilton has certainly heated up a driver market that had been remarkably static in the last year, Alpine boss Bruno Famin said that hes already started talking with both drivers by the time the story broke.

“We have not waited for Hamilton going to Ferrari to talk to our drivers,” he insisted this week. “We are talking permanently to our drivers.

“I'm very happy with the relationship with have with them - with the communication we have with them, and the job they are doing. And we regularly talk to them. We talked before Hamilton and after."

"They did already," Gasly confirmed to the media this week when asked if the team had approached him about the future. "It's obviously an ongoing process, and we have conversations."

Alpine hasn't had the best of track records on driver management in recent years. Halfway through the 2022 season, Fernando Alonso shocked then-team principal Otmar Szafnauer with news that he was off to Aston Martin.

The team announced that reserve driver Oscar Piastri would take over from Alonso, only for the Australian to publicly reject them in favour for a place at McLaren which turned out well for him in his rookie season.

Pierre Gasly (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523 and Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523. 25.08.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, Netherlands, Practice Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Bearne / XPB Images

Alpine managed to secure the services of Gasly from Red Bull to make up an all-French national team in 2023 alongside Ocon. But whether that can be maintained beyond the end of 2024 is a hot topic for them.

“To be honest we all of course have a look on the drivers' market," Famin said at this week's launch of the new A524 contender. "We have also our academy, and it is our duty to see what is going on, to know what is going."

If Ocon were to be handed the chance of a lifetime at Mercedes, then the driver in prime position to take over would be current Alpine reserve Jack Doohan.

This week, Doohan confirmed that he had passed up on the chance of a third season in the FIA Formula 2 Championship in favour of focusing on his F1 prospects.

It means that the 21-year-old son of MotoGP legend Mick Doohan will dedicate himself to working alongside Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, gleaning valuable insights and honing his skills.

“We're on that, but there is no decision at all yet. And our priority is much more focused on developing the car and the team, and we are the confident with our drivers.

“They know what we think, they know also how F1 works,” he continued. “There is no duplicity. That's why it's important to talk regularly to each other, to put everything on the table.

"I think we're happy with them," he added. "Let's wait for the first race and the performance of the car, but I understand they're happy with the team. Let's talk a bit later about that."

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