Formula 1: The obvious replacement choice for Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Formula 1 (Photo by ANP via Getty Images)
Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Formula 1 (Photo by ANP via Getty Images) /

The replacement choice for Fernando Alonso for the 2023 Formula 1 season is rather obvious, but will Alpine make that decision?

Not even a week after four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel announced that he will be retiring once the 2022 season ends, Aston Martin confirmed his replacement, and that replacement is one who many might not have believed was in contention for the seat.

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, who was long reported to have been in talks with Alpine about extending his contract, signed with Aston Martin to replace Vettel alongside Lance Stroll. He signed a multi-year deal that begins in 2023.

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Given the nature of silly season, Alonso’s decision quickly shifted the focus to the following question: who will replace him at Alpine in 2023?

The obvious choice to pair alongside Esteban Ocon, whom the team have under contract through the 2024 season, would have to be Oscar Piastri.

Piastri won the 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup title before winning the 2020 Formula 3 Championship and 2021 Formula 2 Championship as a rookie. He currently serves as Alpine’s reserve driver after having been a member of the Alpine Academy.

The 21-year-old Australian is widely considered the top young prospect not yet competing in Formula 1, and for good reason.

Earlier this season, there were rumors that he was close to a deal with Williams to replace Nicholas Latifi, with Alpine loaning him out to the Grove-based team simply because they wouldn’t have room for him yet in 2023.

But with Alonso now out of the picture, will Piastri go straight to the French outfit next year? It seems like the obvious choice, but it’s not that simple.

If the plan was for Piastri to run a rookie season with another organization first, it could very well be that this is already set up and Alpine would need to look elsewhere.

Surely if the Williams deal was all set to be announced, a Piastri move to Alpine would put them in a bind in terms of finding a new driver — and perhaps Alpine still wouldn’t even want to rush the move.

Plus, the longer Alpine wait to confirm Piastri, if that move does indeed happen, the more it looks as if they lack confidence in their young driver to be able to step up and compete for the organization in year one.

It is almost better for Alpine to move in another direction for 2023. But who is going to sign with the team on a one-year deal just to keep Piastri’s seat warm? Could that have even played a role in the departure of Alonso?

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Even if Piastri does get the second Alpine seat like many expect, it’s not as straightforward as it might seem.