Alpine expected Fernando Alonso to agree a new contract with the team right up until the moment his move to Aston Martin was announced, Otmar Szafnauer has revealed.

And Alpine team principal Szafnauer's attempts to subsequently get in touch with Alonso have proved unsuccessful.

Alonso has driven for Alpine since their rebrand ahead of the 2021 season, returning to Formula One after two seasons away.

The Spaniard had won world championships with Renault – the team under their previous name – back in 2005 and 2006.

Now a midfield runner, Alonso has secured only a single podium in his second stint with the French team, but his switch to Aston Martin on Monday came as somewhat of a surprise – not least to Alpine.

Alonso will replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel in 2023, with his move the first of the mid-season break after Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.

As of the end of that race, in which Alonso finished eighth, Szafnauer thought his superstar driver was returning next year.

"[The Aston Martin statement] was the first confirmation I had," the Alpine chief told Motorsport.com.

"Obviously, when we're in the paddock, there's all sorts of rumours, and I had heard rumours that Aston were interested.

"Once you hear that they're interested, there's probably discussions that took place, and there's some other indications that discussions took place, like walking out of the same motorhome at the same time, all that kind of stuff, which I saw.

"But I was confident that, even with the discussions, and there's nothing wrong with exploring, we were very close.

"So, yes, the first confirmation I had was the press release. I did ask the question [to Alonso]. And I was told: 'No, no, I haven't signed anything.' So, I was a bit surprised."

Asked if he had since spoken to Alonso, Szafnauer replied: "I haven't talked to him, since he's on a boat, I think, in the Greek Isles somewhere.

"I took this morning to address the staff. And the second thing I'm doing is talking to you. And yesterday, I fielded a bunch of calls from other potential drivers."

One obvious option is Oscar Piastri, the Alpine reserve driver who had appeared set for a year at Williams when Alonso was in line for a new contract.

However, Szafnauer faces issues on that front, too, amid claims Piastri has agreed to race instead for McLaren – something Alpine have not agreed to.

"I'm not privy to whatever pre-arrangements he has with McLaren, if any at all," Szafnauer said, stating Alpine have "a legal contract" with Piastri for 2023.

He added: "Oscar and his camp are considering their options, whatever that means."

Fernando Alonso has agreed a multi-year deal to replace Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin from the 2023 Formula One season.

Four-time F1 world champion Vettel announced last week he is retiring at the end of the current campaign.

Aston Martin have moved quickly to bring in a replacement, with Alpine driver Alonso – himself a two-time world champion – set to join next year.

"This Aston Martin team is clearly applying the energy and commitment to win, and it is therefore one of the most exciting teams in Formula One today," Alonso said.

"I have known Lawrence and Lance [Stroll] for many years and it is very obvious that they have the ambition and passion to succeed in Formula One.

"I have watched as the team has systematically attracted great people with winning pedigrees, and I have become aware of the huge commitment to new facilities and resources.

"No one in Formula One today is demonstrating a greater vision and absolute commitment to winning, and that makes it a really exciting opportunity for me."

Alonso returned to F1 with Alpine in 2021 after a two-year sabbatical and finished 10th last season, which is also the position he finds himself in midway through 2022.

The Spaniard made his F1 debut in 2001 and won his two world titles in back-to-back years in 2005 and 2006.

Now at the age of 41, Alonso is still as motivated as ever as he prepares to embark on another new chapter with Aston Martin.

"I still have the hunger and ambition to fight to be at the front, and I want to be part of an organisation that is committed to learn, develop and succeed," he said.

"We all appreciate that there is much to be done to get to the front, and that we must apply all our energies in working together to find performance.

"The passion and desire to perform that I have witnessed convince me to maintain my enjoyment and commitment to the sport.

"I intend to win again in this sport and therefore I have to take the opportunities that feel right to me."

Alonso finished eighth at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday to secure his eighth consecutive points finish.

He brings a wealth of experience to Aston Martin, where he will link up with Lance Stroll, the son of executive chairman Lawrence.

"I have known and admired Fernando for many years and it has always been clear that he is a committed winner like me," Lawrence Stroll said.

"I have set out to bring together the best people and develop the right resources and organisation to succeed in this highly competitive sport.

"Those plans are now taking shape at Silverstone. It seemed natural therefore to invite Fernando to be part of the development of a winning team. 

"We very quickly established in our recent conversations that we have the same ambitions and values, and it was logical and easy to confirm our desire to work together."

Sebastian Vettel's retirement announcement ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix has been the biggest talking point on the grid, with the German's departure set to leave a significant void for Aston Martin to fill.

The four-time world champion played an integral part in Red Bull's rise to become an F1 powerhouse, winning back-to-back championships between 2010 and 2013.

Vettel's championships make him an F1 great, with only Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton (both seven) and Juan Manuel Fangio (five) winning more world titles.

In terms of race wins, Vettel is again near the summit with 53 victories, only behind Hamilton (103) and Schumacher (91), while he is one of only five drivers to secure at least 100 podium finishes – alongside Hamilton, Schumacher, Alain Prost and Kimi Raikkonen.

Those regular appearances in the front three have also given him an honour that only Hamilton can equal, with the pair being the only drivers in F1 history to have secured over 3,000 career points – with Vettel having 3,076 ahead of Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.

Singapore has been Vettel's favoured venue, with five victories and 195 points, and the Far East has been where Vettel has excelled in qualifying – securing pole position on eight occasions in both Singapore and Japan.

Throughout the course of his career, Vettel has raced for five different teams – starting with Sauber, where he scored points in his only outing for the team and then signed for Toro Rosso – securing his first pole and victory in August 2007 in Italy.

After 25 races with the Italian team, Vettel moved to Red Bull, for whom he appeared in 113 races, with only Mark Webber (129) and Max Verstappen (130 so far) featuring more for the Austrian outfit.

Vettel also boasts the most wins (38), the most pole positions (44) and the most fastest laps (24) for Red Bull.

In 2011, Vettel was on pole position for 15 of 19 races, an F1 record, and he won 13 races in 2013 – a joint-record alongside Schumacher.

Vettel's era of dominance came to an end at the start of F1's hybrid era, finishing fifth in the standings in 2014 with just four podiums from 19 races, and he subsequently joined Ferrari for the 2015 season.

The German continued to struggle, with just three wins and one pole position in his first year with the Italian side – although those wins were the most registered in a single season for Ferrari since Fernando Alonso in 2012 (also three).

Overall, Vettel raced 118 times for Ferrari and amassed 14 race wins, 55 podiums, 12 pole positions and 1,400 points.

Should all go to plan, Vettel's final fling in his F1 career will come in Abu Dhabi, the season finale and his 300th career race.

So far for Aston Martin, he has a single podium, in Azerbaijan in 2021, and has earned 58 points from 32 races.

Sebastian Vettel's hopes of a successful first race since announcing his Formula One retirement suffered a setback as he crashed in third practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The four-time world champion this week confirmed he will end his F1 career at the end of the season.

His move to Aston Martin in 2021 has not delivered the desired results, with Vettel claiming just one podium since his switch from Ferrari.

But Vettel was impressing amid heavy rain at the Hungaroring, only to lose control of his rear tyres and spin into barriers at turn 10.

That saw the session briefly red-flagged before it was brought to a conclusion by the Williams of Nicholas Latifi surprisingly posting the fastest time on intermediate tyres on a drying track.

It is the first time Latifi has been quickest in an F1 practice session.

His team-mate Alexander Albon was third, sandwiching the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, with the changeable conditions setting the stage for a fascinating qualifying session.

The session was largely defined by Mercedes' struggles for grip. George Russell did find enough to go fifth fastest, but Lewis Hamilton could only manage 11th.

Lewis Hamilton said he has "lost an ally" as he paid tribute to Sebastian Vettel, who will retire at the end of the Formula One season.

Vettel, now racing for Aston Martin, confirmed on Thursday that he would be calling time on his illustrious career.

The German is a four-time world champion, winning all of those titles in consecutive seasons between 2010 and 2013.

That success proceeded Hamilton's dominance of F1, with the Briton winning six of his seven world titles from 2014 onwards.

Two years Vettel's senior, Hamilton is sad to see the 35-year-old call it a day.

"My first feeling is that it is sad he is stopping," Hamilton told reporters ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

"The journey I have experienced in this sport, often feeling relatively lonely, Seb has been one of the few people that has made it not feel that way. He stood by me through a lot of things.

"We talk about legends, I don't really like that title but he is one of the greatest people we have seen in this sport and we need more people like him. I am sad because I have lost an ally."

Only Hamilton (103) and F1 great Michael Schumacher (91) have won more races in the format than Vettel (53).

Hamilton also believes Vettel has used his platform for good, saying: "There's no lack of bravery in Sebastian. He has been one of the very, very few drivers in racing history that has stood for much more than himself.

"He's used his voice in things that I've fought for and stood by me, he's taken the knee, he's gone on his own journey and stood on the grid and fought for things that he believed in, and for the greater good.

"I think he's just a really beautiful human being and I'm really grateful to have been here in a time that he was racing.

"Watching his World Championships was impressive. I'm sad to have arrived today and seen the news, but I know whatever he goes and does beyond this is going to be even better."

Hamilton's sentiment was echoed by Fernando Alonso, who competed closely with Vettel during the latter's dominant streak.

The Spaniard said: "Not the news that I want. There were some rumours last year that maybe he stops, but this year it came true.

"An amazing driver, a legend of our sport. I spent so much time and battles with him over my career with him. So I will miss him, and not only as a driver, I think he has very strong values and is a very good human being. I wish him the best and we will miss him."

Sebastian Vettel says his "best race is still to come" after revealing he will retire from Formula One at the end of this season.

The Aston Martin driver on Thursday revealed he will quit after his 300th F1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi in November.

Vettel will end his career as a four-time world champion, with the German great having so far won 53 races and been on the podium 122 times.

The 35-year-old is relishing life after racing, stating: "I believe there is still a race to win."

He said in an Instagram post: "Next to racing, I have grown a family and I love being around them. I have grown other interests outside Formula One. My passion for racing and Formula One comes with lots of time spent away from them, and takes a lot of energy.

"Committing to my passion the way I did and the way I think is right, no longer goes side-by-side with my wish to be a great father and husband. The energy it takes to become one with the car and the team, to chase perfection, takes focus and commitment. 

"My goals have shifted from winning races and fighting for championships to seeing my children grow, passing on my values, helping them up when they fall, listening to them when they need me, not having to say goodbye, and most importantly being able to learn from them and let them inspire me.

"Children are our future, further I feel there is so much to explore and learn about life and about myself.

"Speaking of the future, I feel we live in very decisive times and how we all shape these next years will determine our lives.

"My passion comes with certain aspects that I've learned to dislike. They might be solved in the future, but the will to apply that change has to grow much stronger and has to be leading to action today. Talk is not enough and we cannot afford to wait. There is no alternative, the race is under way.

"My best race is still to come, I believe in moving forwards and moving on. Time is a one-way street and I want to grow with the times. Looking back is only going to slow you down. I look forward to racing down unknown tracks and I will be finding new challenges.

"The marks I left on track will stay until time and rain will wash them away. New ones will be put down. Tomorrow belongs to those shaping today.

"The next corner is in good hands as the new generation has already turned in. I believe there is still a race to win. Farewell and thank you for letting me share the track with you, I loved every bit of it."

Sebastian Vettel will bring an end to his illustrious Formula One career at the end of the season, he revealed on Thursday.

The four-time F1 champion has seen the current campaign shrouded by speculation on his future, with his deal with Aston Martin expiring at the end of the year – and he has now made the decision to step away into retirement.

"I have had the privilege of working with many fantastic people in Formula One over the past 15 years - there are far too many to mention and thank," he said in a statement.

"The decision to retire has been a difficult one for me to take, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about it. At the end of the year I want to take some more time to reflect on what I will focus on next.

"It is very clear to me that, being a father, I want to spend more time with my family. But today is not about saying goodbye.

"Rather, it is about saying thank you – to everyone – not least to the fans, without whose passionate support Formula One could not exist."

Vettel began his F1 career in 2007 with BMW, then moved to Toro Rosso for a two-year stint before stepping up to join Red Bull.

Finishing second in his first season with Red Bull, Vettel then won four consecutive world titles from 2010 to 2013 and left to join Ferrari in 2015, spending six seasons there.

Vettel finished 12th in the drivers' championship in 2021, his first season with Aston Martin, and lies 14th in the standings in 2022 – having picked up just 15 points.

Lawrence Stroll says Aston Martin wanted Sebastian Vettel to continue driving for the team in the 2023 Formula One season.

The four-time world champion announced his retirement on Thursday, with his career set to come to a close on the landmark occasion of his 300th F1 race in Abu Dhabi on November 20.

There has been speculation over Vettel's future throughout the season, with the German in the final year of his Aston Martin contract, and a decision was expected during the mid-season break.

Vettel confirmed ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend that he has decided to quit despite being offered the chance to stay with Aston Martin.

"I want to thank Sebastian from the bottom of my heart for the great work that he has done for Aston Martin over the past year and a half," Aston Martin executive chairman Stroll said in a statement.

"We made it clear to him that we wanted him to continue with us next year, but in the end he has done what he feels is right for himself and his family, and of course we respect that.

"He has driven some fantastic races for us, and, behind the scenes, his experience and expertise with our engineers have been extremely valuable. 

"He is one of the all-time greats of Formula One, and it has been a privilege to have been able to work with him.

"He will continue to race for us up to and including the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which will be his 300th Grand Prix entry. We will give him a fabulous send-off."

Team principal Mike Krack also heaped praise on the 35-year-old.

"Sebastian is a superb driver - fast, intelligent and strategic - and of course we are going to miss those qualities," he said.

"However, we have all learned from him, and the knowledge that we have gained from working with him will continue to benefit our team long after his departure.

"Aston Martin is a great project, with unlimited potential, and the groundwork that Sebastian has done last year, and is still doing this year, is crucial.

"When we become fully competitive - and we will - one of the architects of that future success will be Sebastian, and we will always be grateful to him for that."

Sebastian Vettel will bring an end to his illustrious Formula One career at the end of the season, he revealed on Thursday.

The four-time F1 champion has seen the current campaign shrouded by speculation on his future, with his deal with Aston Martin expiring at the end of the year – and he has now made the decision to step away into retirement.

"I have had the privilege of working with many fantastic people in Formula One over the past 15 years - there are far too many to mention and thank," he said in a statement.

"The decision to retire has been a difficult one for me to take, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about it. At the end of the year I want to take some more time to reflect on what I will focus on next.

"It is very clear to me that, being a father, I want to spend more time with my family. But today is not about saying goodbye.

"Rather, it is about saying thank you – to everyone – not least to the fans, without whose passionate support Formula One could not exist."

Vettel began his F1 career in 2007 with BMW, then moved to Toro Rosso for a two-year stint before stepping up to join Red Bull.

Finishing second in his first season with Red Bull, Vettel then won four consecutive world titles from 2010 to 2013 and left to join Ferrari in 2015, spending six seasons there.

Vettel finished 12th in the drivers' championship in 2021, his first season with Aston Martin, and lies 14th in the standings in 2022 – having picked up just 15 points.

Sebastian Vettel has dismissed speculation linking him with a move to McLaren as "just rumours" as his "clear intention" is to stay with Aston Martin.

Four-time world champion Vettel's contract expires at the end of this season.

With McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo enduring a difficult year, posting just three top-10 finishes to sit 12th in the drivers' standings, there has been talk he could leave the sport, with Vettel touted as a potential replacement.

When asked about Vettel's future last month, Aston Martin boss Mike Krack said: "We were always clear that if he wants to continue, we would like him to stay."

Speaking ahead of the French Grand Prix, the German says there is nothing in talk that he could be on his way to McLaren.

He said: "I think Lando [Norris] has a contract… No, I obviously know some people there, but I think it's just rumours."

The 35-year-old hopes to come to an agreement with Aston Martin before long.

He added: "Well, I'm racing this weekend, and the next one. Then yeah, obviously I've said that at some point, we will start to talk.

"I'm talking to the team; I think there is a clear intention to keep going. We'll see soon where we stand."

Sebastian Vettel does not believe there has been a "changing of the guard" in Formula One, saying older drivers would thrive with "the right tools" 

Max Verstappen won his first F1 world title last season, dethroning Lewis Hamilton in the most dramatic fashion in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

Red Bull's Verstappen leads Charles Leclerc by nine points in the battle for the 2022 title, with the 37-year-old Hamilton sixth.

Vettel, 34, has picked up only five points for Aston Martin, while the 40-year-old Fernando Alonso having 10 points to his name

Verstappen, Leclerc and George Russell – all aged 24 – have emerged as a new generation of drivers with long careers ahead of them.

Four-time F1 champion Vettel says they are fortunate to have cars that enable them to challenge for victories. 

Asked about the young drivers coming through, the German told Stats Perform: "I think it very much depends how competitive your environment is.

"Obviously, usually you're saying that there's a changing of the guard, Lewis has been arguably fighting for the title until the very last lap last year, so it's not too long ago.

"I think it depends always on the situation you're in for sure. There's drivers that are a little bit older like Fernando and Lewis then myself, but I'm sure that you give us the right tools, we still can do the right work."

Vettel hopes Ferrari can give Leclerc every chance of winning his first F1 title.

He said: "Obviously, Charles is one of them and in a good car he deserves to be up there. Hopefully the car will be good enough for him to fight for the title this year until the end.

"We will see, throughout the field you have more that one or two drivers that will be able to battle for victories.

"But usually the right drivers get the right package at the right time, so I'm very happy for him and hopefully he has the car to do it until the end."

 

Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0%, partners of the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team, are bringing F1 fans the passion from inside the garage via a new multi-sensory experience 'IL PITSTOP' which is travelling around Europe this summer. 'IL PITSTOP' will immerse fans in the sights, sounds and smells of an F1 garage, whilst providing an opportunity to trial the crisp and refreshing taste of Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0%.

Sebastian Vettel has questioned how much Lewis Hamilton is enjoying racing amid his struggles in the 2022 Formula One season.

Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, and Mercedes have battled issues with the new design of their car during the early throes of the campaign.

The 37-year-old has just 50 points to his name in the drivers' standings, and sits 75 behind leader and defending champion Max Verstappen heading into the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Hamilton has just one podium finish this campaign, a third-place finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix opener, from seven races as Mercedes have failed to keep the pace with Red Bull and Ferrari.

Aston Martin driver Vettel pondered whether Hamilton is still getting the same joy he previously did.

"He had a package where he was able to win," four-time world champion Vettel said. "Obviously, it's been a little different for myself the last few years, but that's how it goes sometimes.

"You still try to make the most of it, but for sure, in terms of how much you enjoy it, when you get used to winning there is no feeling that can replace that.

"But having said that you have to work together as a team to try and get back up."

Mercedes have repeatedly struggled with 'porpoising' – bouncing at high speed – and not racing at the optimum height with their W13 car.

That has left them in the wake of a dominant season so far for Red Bull and Ferrari, and Vettel acknowledged the difficulties as he suggested Aston Martin are having problems of their own.

"I don't think Mercedes pulled back voluntarily; I think they are obviously having difficulties extracting the most from their car just like many other people have," he added.

"But others that have got it together more so the balance has shifted a little bit. But for us that’s not what is most important, the most important is about looking at ourselves where we are.

"And as I said at the moment, we are not happy with where we are, we would like to be further up but there’s a lot of work going into the project and hopefully we will see some better results soon."

Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0%, partners of the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team, are bringing F1 fans the passion from inside the garage via a new multi-sensory experience 'IL PITSTOP' which is travelling around Europe this summer. 'IL PITSTOP' will immerse fans in the sights, sounds and smells of an F1 garage, whilst providing an opportunity to trial the crisp and refreshing taste of Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0%.

Sebastian Vettel is confident Aston Martin can improve their results after a disappointing start to 2022 amid doubts over his future in Formula One.

The four-time world champion is nearing the end of his contract with Aston Martin and it remains to be seen whether he will continue in the sport beyond this season.

Aston Martin's form has done little to quieten talk of retirement.

Vettel was 12th in the drivers' championship with 43 points in 2021. After missing the first two races of this season with COVID-19, he has claimed only five points from five grands prix.

However, as F1 returns to Baku, the scene of a second-placed finish for Vettel last season, he is hopeful changes to the car - which provoked controversy and questions from Red Bull due to the similarities the two cars now share - can spark an upturn in fortunes.

He told Stats Perform: "Obviously we are not aiming to be where we are now. But yeah let's see, we still have some races ahead of us and the team is pushing hard to improve the car.

"With the new set of regulations, there's always a risk you might get it wrong and I think that we have changed our path with a different car that we have adopted now and we believe that it is a better option for the races in the future.

"At the moment, we are not happy with where we are, we would like to be further up but there's a lot of work going into the project and hopefully we will see some better results soon."

Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0%, partners of the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team, are bringing F1 fans the passion from inside the garage via a new multi-sensory experience 'IL PITSTOP' which is travelling around Europe this summer. 'IL PITSTOP' will immerse fans in the sights, sounds and smells of an F1 garage, whilst providing an opportunity to trial the crisp and refreshing taste of Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0%.

Sebastien Vettel says Formula 1's contribution towards climate change has made him consider his future in the sport.

Aston Martin driver Vettel is known for his environmental and political activism, having previously worn the pride flag at last year's Hungarian Grand Prix and organised an all-women karting event on the weekend of the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Ahead of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix last week, Vettel wore a t-shirt featuring the slogan: "Miami 2060: First Grand Prix under water, act now or swim later" in an attempt to draw attention to the issue of global warming.

Speaking on BBC debate show Question Time on Thursday, the four-time drivers' champion said the environmental impact of travelling the world to race had made him think about his participation in the sport.

Asked whether his involvement in the sport made him a hypocrite, the 34-year-old replied: "It does, it does, and you're right when you laugh.

"There are questions I ask myself every day, and I'm not a saint.

"Certain things are in my control and certain things are not. It's my passion to drive a car, I love it and every time I step in the car, I love it.

"There's things that I do because I feel I can do them better. Do I need to take a plane every time? No, not when I can take the car.

"When I get out of the car, of course I'm thinking as well 'Is this something that we should do, travel the world, wasting resources?'"

Vettel sits 14th in the drivers' championship standings after being classified 17th when failing to finish in Miami, having missed the first two races of the 2022 season after testing positive for COVID-19, and will be out of contract at the end of the campaign. 

Two of the world's most recognisable car brands – Audi and Porsche – have plans to join Formula One.

It is said that the two brands, who are the Volkswagen Group's biggest income generators, have had a keen interest for a while now and have been waiting for F1's engine regulations to move in a more eco-friendly direction.

These changes are reportedly set to come into effect in 2026, when it is expected that Porsche will form an alliance with Red Bull and compete under the team name of Red Bull-Porsche.

Audi, on the other hand, are seeking to buy out an existing team, and have had talks with Sauber, Williams, Aston Martin and McLaren.

Speaking at an event in Wolfsburg, where VW is based, company chief executive Herbert Diess said when it came down to it, entering F1 would simply generate more money than not entering.

"You just run out of arguments [against it]," he said.

Last year, Porsche Motorsport vice president Fritz Enzinger revealed that the company was again considering their future in the sport, as long as the engine requirements met a certain standard.

With F1's new engines to run on fully sustainable fuels – which was non-negotiable for the VW Group – it is now closer than ever to becoming a reality.

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