Alpine has indicated it would prefer to sign a “more senior driver” to replace Aston Martin-bound Fernando Alonso for its 2023 Formula 1 driver line-up.
Following the announcement of Alonso’s shock switch to Aston Martin last month, Alpine has been searching for a driver to partner Esteban Ocon next year.
Despite plans to promote reserve driver Oscar Piastri, Alpine lost the Australian to McLaren after a contract dispute, leaving the team to look elsewhere.
Pierre Gasly has emerged as a candidate to fill the vacant seat, but Red Bull says it will only allow him to leave AlphaTauri if it can sign Indycar driver Colton Herta.
But with Herta unlikely to obtain a superlicense, Alpine’s options for an experienced driver appear limited, which could see it turn to its protege Jack Doohan or Nick de Vries, who impressed on his debut outing for Williams at last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
Speaking about Alpine’s situation, CEO Laurent Rossi felt the Enstone-based outfit needed a driver capable of producing results straight away, but stressed it won’t rush any decision.
“We need to find a driver that’s capable of scoring big points right away,” said Rossi, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“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.”
Alpine junior Doohan is now tipped as a contender for a potential promotion to F1 after a solid rookie season in F2, with pole position for last weekend’s feature race at Monza doing his chances no harm.
Asked if Doohan had a genuine shot of an F1 drive next year, 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.”
But while Rossi heaped praise on Doohan, he would prefer the Australian to spend a year or two at another team “where you have a bit of less pressure to deliver”.