OCTOBER 18, 2022
Gasly fastest available driver for Alpine
Pierre Gasly was the "perfect" choice to replace two-time champion Fernando Alonso at Alpine next year.
That is the view of the Renault-owned carmaker's CEO Laurent Rossi, who had actually planned to pair Esteban Ocon with rookie Oscar Piastri from 2023.
But Australian Piastri, 21, controversially rejected Alpine to drive for McLaren next year, leaving Alpine to negotiate for Frenchman Gasly's release from his signed Red Bull-Alpha Tauri contract.
26-year-old Gasly says Alpine "worked hard" to negotiate the deal, which reportedly cost the Enstone based team millions in the Red Bull settlement and at least EUR 10 million a year for 2023 and beyond.
Gasly's new deal is apparently for two fixed years with an option for 2025.
"He was the fastest of the available drivers, or even the drivers who were not available," Rossi told the French broadcaster Canal Plus.
"Performance was the number 1 criteria. Today, our car is the fourth on the grid, which means that we are aiming for 5th, 6th, 7th places in general.
"Pierre has demonstrated in the very recent past with a car that is not so good that he knows how to climb onto podiums and sometimes the highest step.
"He is also young so he is the perfect candidate to help us grow, to grow himself, to help us grow with him and go higher than the 5th, 6th, 7th."
One potential concern is that, although Alpine now has an all-French lineup, Gasly and countryman Ocon quite clearly do not get along at all.
"Our relationship has had its ups and downs," Gasly admits, "but I believe this is also an opportunity to clean up a little bit of what happened in the past. So I'm not worried about that.
"We are mature enough and intelligent enough to understand what is best for us and what is most important for the team."
The next step for Alpine is to negotiate with Red Bull a potential early release from his duties late this year.
"We are discussing with him to find out when he will be able to start testing with us at least with this year's car and then thinking about next year's car," said Rossi.
"We are already thinking about ways to speed up his integration into the team. Not technically of course, but Pierre already has at least one toe in with us."