Three Alpine drivers leap into post-Hamilton ’silly season’
"One way or another, my goal is to fight for first place"
Alpine’s entire roster of drivers have counted themselves into the suddenly-rampant Formula 1 ’silly season’ as a result of Lewis Hamilton’s shock 2025 move to Ferrari.
The Renault-linked team launched both its 2024 F1 car and its new Le Mans hypercar on Wednesday, but arguably a hotter topic of conversation was the vacant Mercedes works seat for 2025.
Both Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly’s contracts run out this year, but even Alpine’s new world endurance championship recruit Mick Schumacher is busily eyeing the F1 driver market now.
"My eye is definitely still pretty much on Formula 1," said the German, who doubles as Mercedes’ reserve driver. "There’s a lot of excitement in the driver market now and it could be that one or two doors will open."
Frenchman Gasly, meanwhile, said he heard that Hamilton was in talks with Ferrari some time ago. "I think it was kept secret for a long time," he told RMC Sport.
"My contract expires at the end of the year and negotiations are obviously ongoing," he said. "Now I want to see how the (Alpine) car works.
"One way or another, my goal is to fight for first place. I’m 28 years old, I have good experience, I’m in my prime."
As for Ocon, it emerged recently that despite being earlier declared as a "100 percent Alpine driver", Esteban Ocon is actually still contractually linked to Mercedes via his management by Toto Wolff.
"I have always had strong ties with Mercedes," Ocon admitted on Wednesday. "I am still one of the junior Mercedes drivers, although I am no longer a junior. But I do still have a contract with them.
"This is the situation at the moment, but we’ll see what happens next. If you do your job well, there will always be all sorts of rumours and conversations about you."
For 2024, Alpine will still be run by the brand’s vice president of motorsport, Bruno Famin, who now faces the scenario of both of his F1 drivers eyeing alternative seats for 2025.
"We see that the silly season has started but it is on pause," he smiled to RMC. "We are very happy with our drivers. We speak regularly, before and after the Hamilton change. We know where we are.
"But we always have to be on the lookout. We saw it when Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement - it fell apart very quickly so you always have to be on standby.
"It’s part of the job, it’s normal," Famin added.
Alpine insists its new F1 car is completely new apart from the steering wheel, but Famin is not sure it will be enough for a giant improvement in results this season.
When asked if moving up from sixth overall to the top-5 in 2024 is realistic, he answered: "I don’t know, but it’s not a stated objective.
"It’s a real risk because we don’t know if we’re fourth or tenth, and there are seven teams with the same questions. It’s possible that we’ll suffer, but we have things in our portfolio for the next races."
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