Alonso lands deal to stay at Alpine for 2022 Formula One season

By Sports Desk August 26, 2021

Fernando Alonso has secured a second season with Alpine after the two-time Formula One champion impressed team bosses on his return to the cockpit.

After two years out of F1, Alonso has had eight top-10 finishes in 11 races of this season to date.

His and the team's best results came in the Hungarian Grand Prix last time out, where Alonso took fourth place and Esteban Ocon won the race.

Alpine, who previously competed as Renault, said in a statement on Thursday: "Alpine is pleased to announce that two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso will continue in its colours for the 2022 season alongside Esteban Ocon.

"The extension of Fernando’s contract signals the continuation of an already strong collaboration, fresh off the back of its historic maiden victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix, in which Fernando played a pivotal role."

Alonso believes the 2022 season can be particularly fruitful for Alpine, when a host of technical regulations are introduced that may lead to closer competition between the teams.

 

The 40-year-old Spanish driver said: "I'm very happy to confirm the contract extension with Alpine into 2022. I felt at home the moment I returned to this team and have been welcomed back with open arms.

"It's been a tricky season for everyone, but we've shown progress as a team and the result in Hungary serves as a good example of this progression. We're targeting more positive memories for the rest of this season but also crucially from next year onwards with the new regulation changes coming into Formula One.

"I have been a big supporter of the need for a level playing field and change in the sport and the 2022 season will be a great opportunity for that. I am looking forward to the rest of this year and racing alongside Esteban in 2022 for Alpine."

Alonso has competed in 322 F1 races across his career, winning 32 times and finishing on the podium on 97 occasions.

His F1 titles came as a Renault driver in 2005 and 2006, and Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi said: "He is just as hungry as we are for success and is putting in every effort to translate it to performance.

"For now, however, we need to focus on delivering a strong second half of the year, extract the maximum at every race and ensure we finish as high up in the constructors' standings as possible. This will put us in a golden position for next year and the significant opportunity it brings."

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    It was a bittersweet Sunday for the Scuderia at Silverstone, however, with tactics scuppering a potential one-two finish with Charles Leclerc, who fell away to finish fourth on older hard tyres following a late safety car.

    Ferrari capitalised to some extent, but were not able to take full advantage of Max Verstappen's damaged floor putting him out of contention for the race win.

    Now heading into Red Bull's home race at the Austrian Grand Prix, the championship challengers simply must recover more ground if they are to mount a real threat in the standings.

    Reigning world champion Verstappen has won the last two races and claimed the last two pole positions at Spielberg, however, making a repeat of Sunday's run to the chequered flag for Ferrari unlikely.

    Red Bull have won three of the past four Austrian GPs, with Verstappen taking all three for the team.

    The Red Bull Ring has been a happy hunting ground for the 24-year-old, reaching the podium six times, with two fastest laps as well as his four wins and two pole positions, with all being the most out of any circuit in his career.

    A Ferrari win would prove an important historical moment for the team, though, as well as what it means in context of this season.

    The Scuderia need only 23 points to be the first team in F1 to reach 9,000 points, while both they and Mercedes are one win away from equalling McLaren's record six wins in Austria.

    Meanwhile, they are one clearout of the front row away from surpassing Mercedes for the most one-two qualifying finishes in F1, with both on 82.

    Can Sainz push on after breaking through?

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    Despite a tricky start to the season, Sainz has slowly developed confidence in the car, with six podiums this season

    One more would see him surpass his total over the previous seven seasons in F1, and could be the first Spaniard since Fernando Alonso in 2010 to record back-to-back wins.

    Austria does not follow 'El Plan'

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    Despite encouraging recent form, including a second place in qualifying in Canada and a fifth-place finish at Silverstone, the 40-year-old will be looking to change that.

    The two-time world champion has appeared nine times at Spielberg, the circuit with his lowest aggregate of race wins, pole positions, fastest laps and podiums in his career.

    CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

    Drivers

    1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 181
    2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 147
    3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 138
    4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 127
    5. George Russell (Mercedes) 111

    Constructors

    1. Red Bull 328
    2. Ferrari 265
    3. Mercedes 204
    4. McLaren 73
    5. Alpine 67

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    "The space between the barriers and the metal fence and he was just stuck in there, nowhere to go. Yeah, something to learn…"

    Zhou, who is debuting this season in F1, was taken to a nearby hospital for checks and released later on Sunday.

    He put his lucky escape down to the halo head-protection device that has been used since 2018.

    "It was a big crash and I'm glad I'm okay," he said. "The marshals and the medical team at the track were fantastic with their quick response.

    "I also owe my thanks to the FIA and Formula 1 for all the work they have done, and they keep doing, to improve the safety of our cars.

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    Williams driver Alex Albon also required medical attention following a separate incident in the early throes of an action-packed race that was won by Carlos Sainz.

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    At the race's conclusion, Binotto briefly addressed a visibly disappointed Leclerc in parc ferme, whose pace dropped off on degrading hard tyres following a safety car with 14 laps remaining.

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    "I think, one, that was important for him and with Ferrari it's even more important. So, I'm very pleased and I think he deserved it."

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