Alpine F1 Team boss Otmar Szafnauer found out that Fernando Alonso was leaving his team at the same time as the rest of the world. Szafnauer, Motorsport reports, read about Alonso's Aston Martin deal in the public press release Aston Martin Racing put out to announce the deal.
“It was the first confirmation I had,” he told Motorsport. “Obviously, when we're in the paddock, there's all sorts of rumors, and I had heard rumors that Aston were interested."
NEWS: @AstonMartinF1 announces Fernando Alonso for 2023.
We are delighted to confirm that two-time #F1 World Champion @alo_oficial will join the team from next season on a multi-year contract.
Tap below to read more. ⬇️#WeClimbTogether
— Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) August 1, 2022
The outlet reports that Szafnauer believed that Alpine was on the precipice of securing a deal with Alonso. The team and the former champion had been deep in negotiations, which the team boss thought were looking good. But following up on the rumors, he says he did question Alonso.
“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," he said, according to Motorsport.
The 41-year-old driver joined Alpine in 2021 after a two-year hiatus from competing in Formula One. The team, which previously raced as Renault--where Alonso had his greatest success in the mid 2000s--brought in Alonso to replace Daniel Ricciardo when the Australian departed for McLaren. It's unclear who will fill the now-vacant seat, but our motorsports editor Fred Smith suggests that Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri could finally get his chance to graduate.
Regardless, the full report from Motorsport is worth reading, as it explains the key clause that Szafnauer says sunk the deal.
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