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Alpine considering 14 drivers for 'best seat in F1' but Pierre Gasly hailed as 'perfect choice' in 2023 – Sky Sports

F1 News
Last Updated: 07/09/22 1:26pm
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Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer says the team have a shortlist of 14 drivers to fill “the best seat open in F1”, with Pierre Gasly heralded by Nico Rosberg as the “perfect” candidate to partner Esteban Ocon.
The French team have an unexpected opening for 2023 after Fernando Alonso signed for Aston Martin, while they then lost a contract battle to McLaren for the services of the previously-announced Oscar Piastri.
Gasly is the overwhelming favourite to land the seat, and Alpine have been in discussions with Red Bull over releasing the highly-rated AlphaTauri driver, but Szafnauer says the team have a “long list”.
“We just want to understand all those that are available,” the Alpine team principal told Sky Sports F1 at the Dutch GP.
“We’ve got a long list. I’ve mentioned 14 before and it’s about right.
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“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.”
Szafnauer added that Alpine were in no rush to make a decision, with the team – while reeling following the Piastri saga – now an attractive proposition in the driver market.
Alpine are currently fourth in the standings and the top three have all firmed up their 2023 line-ups.
“I think the right thing [after losing Piastri to McLaren] 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 Szafnauer.
“But secondarily it opens up a seat now, probably the best seat open in F1. Now we’ve got to do a job in finding the right driver.”
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When it became apparent that Alpine were going to lose Piastri, a few names – such as Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher – were touted early on. But Alpine now seem to be centring in on Gasly.
Gasly has shone in F1 since joining the grid in 2017 – minus a difficult half-a-season at Red Bull – and has been desperate to make the step up. A deal is dependent on AlphaTauri securing a replacement, with American Colton Herta being targeted, but Gasly ticks many boxes.
“Oscar is still an unknown,” said Sky Sports F1’s Rosberg, the 2016 world champion. “Alpine and Otmar are going to sit there and think there’s a lot of guys out there who have the experience and the talent.
“One is Pierre Gasly. I think he’s the perfect slot-in driver for that team, apart from what we’ve heard is not a great relationship with Ocon.
“For me, Gasly is the perfect choice. I think that’d be the perfect line-up for them.”
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As Rosberg mentioned, Gasly and Ocon are thought not to be the fondest of each other, with a rivalry dating back to their karting days in France. But Rosberg added: “It will be a factor, but it’s a not a deciding one.”
“How many times have we seen in history?” he said. “We just have to go back to Lewis [Hamilton] and myself. We weren’t the best of friends in the end, as you might know, and yet we were dominating the sport together.
“So you can have great success even when the drivers don’t get on, and I think that’s a match made in heaven – Gasly and Alpine. They have to try to get that done.
“Of course, what’s still standing in the way is that Red Bull want quite a lot of money to release Gasly.”
©2022 Sky UK

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