F1 silly season is in full swing, and Aston Martin has confirmed who will fill Sebastian Vettel’s seat when he retires at the end of the season.
Fernando Alonso announced he will join Aston Martin in 2023, and the team confirmed he is on a multi-year contract. This comes after Vettel announced last Thursday that he will retire from F1 at the end of the season and just as the sport is heading to summer break.
The Spaniard said as recently as Thursday that he was looking to stay at Alpine, his home since his return to F1 in 2021. Alonso will now compete alongside Lance Stroll while Alpine will have a seat to fill alongside Esteban Ocon.
“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 in a statement. “I have known Lawrence and Lance for many years and it is very obvious that they have the ambition and passion to succeed in Formula One.
“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. 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.”
For some time, Alpine reportedly had been looking for a landing spot for its reserve driver, Oscar Piastri. Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer expressed confidence ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix qualifying that the rising star would find an F1 seat as soon as the 2023 campaign.
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When asked whether he thought Piastri would be racing in F1 next year, Szafnauer replied: “Yes.”
He added: “We don’t talk about the details of our contracts with the drivers and that’s something that we never do. So as much as I’d like to tell you, I don’t think I can. But when I do say yes, that’s the plan.
“We’re contracted with Oscar, we have some options on him, so there’s no real need to hurry that. So we’ll take our time and at the right moment within the silly season, we’ll have a look around and make those types of decisions.”
Alonso secured his eighth consecutive points finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix over the weekend, adding to his extensive F1 experience that includes two world championships. Aston Martin said this move “is a clear statement of intent from an organisation that has committed to developing a winning Formula One team.”
Team principal Mike Krack said, in part, in a statement, “I have witnessed the excitement in the engineering team and throughout the whole organisation at the opportunity to work with Fernando. We know that nearly everyone can learn from someone of Fernando’s calibre and experience. We are confident that he will inspire everyone to lift their game, and that will only enhance the already infectious energy that exists within the team.
“We are on a journey to create a winning organisation, and it is clear that Fernando will accelerate our progress and bring us to a performance in which we can take pride.”
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