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Formula 1

Alpine gives Gasly new F1 deal - and steps up Sainz chase

by Edd Straw
6 min read

The announcement that Pierre Gasly will remain with Alpine - on what is described as a new multi-year deal, thus presumably taking the partnership into the new rules' era in 2026 - is a much-needed piece of unequivocally good news for the beleaguered team.

While always likely to stay on, Gasly had been shopping around and was regarded by Audi as a credible option until recently - so it wasn't a foregone conclusion.

Amid the controversy of Flavio Briatore’s appointment, on-track struggles that are now at least easing with its recent run of points, the departure of key technical personnel earlier in the season and confirming it would part company with Esteban Ocon, to have not been able to hold onto Gasly would have been carelessness on a par with the great driver market disaster of 2022 when Alpine managed to lose both Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri.

Since joining Alpine after it paid big bucks to Red Bull for his release, Gasly’s trajectory has been encouraging. In the first half of last season, the battle between him and Ocon was relatively even but in the second half of the year Gasly began to assert himself by a small margin.

Although Ocon then started 2024 as the more impressive driver, Gasly has since hit form - and question marks about car spec and the overall state of Alpine's car have muddied the waters throughout anyway.

Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, Alpine, F1

The 28-year-old is capable of being a seriously quick driver. While he doesn't necessarily have the widest window in terms of the car characteristics he thrives with, if the machinery gives him what he wants he can do great things.

He’s an attacking driver, a late-braker by disposition and one who thrives on confidence. If he can brake late and have a car that’s responsive enough on turn-in to get the car rotated without then hitting trouble mid-corner, he’s as fast as anyone. And it's very visible from trackside and onboard cameras when he has that confidence.

Pierre Gasly, Red Bull, F1

There are good reasons why he's not seen as an option for the top teams and his 2019 experience alongside Max Verstappen plays a part in that.

Then, his late-braking tendencies counted against him as he was often on the anchors later than Verstappen and, as a result, under-rotated the car in slower corners.

That meant he felt he was more traction-limited than his team-mate for the exit phase as he still had more lock applied, which is a problem you can run into with this kind of style if you can't get the car sufficiently rotated at turn-in.

Gasly has certainly developed since that difficult half-season at Red Bull, even winning a race at Monza in 2020, which even prompted Lewis Hamilton to marvel at his rise, fall and revival.

Toro Rosso/AlphaTauri clearly understood what he needed in a car and was able to give it to him, with Gasly particularly impressive in 2021 when he had the machinery to fight for third-fastest at times behind Red Bull and Mercedes.

While times were tougher in 2022 with an AlphaTauri AT03 that didn’t give him what he needed, the way last season panned out at Alpine proved that he could do the job despite the fact the current cars are always battling a lack of front end into slower corners.

He worked well with the team as the season progressed to get things the way he wanted, becoming a strong voice inside the outfit. What was also playing out was the battle to wrest ‘control’ of the team from Ocon, a battle that he seemed to be taking control of late last year and has ultimately won.

The Spanish Grand Prix showcased what Gasly is capable of. He produced a superb qualifying lap despite a car that wasn’t completely to his liking and converted that into ninth place. While he lost a place to Sergio Perez on the last lap, that was a DRS drive-by in a much faster car.

He’s established in the team, offers continuity for the future and knows that his best chance of getting back to the front in F1 is if the Renault-owned team manages to get its act together and deliver on its potential in the coming years.

And for Alpine, whether or not it’s able to land the big fish everyone is chasing in the driver market for the other seat, keeping Gasly is comfortably the best-available option.


Pierre Gasly, Alpine, F1

There are three obvious candidates to join Gasly at Alpine, which still has a number of good options despite the fact it has removed Ocon from contention.

The first of those is the obvious target for everyone…


Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, F1

Sainz had narrowed his options down to Audi versus Williams, but there are suggestions the changes at Alpine and the appointment of Briatore might have made him think again.

Sainz always stressed that he was keeping all options open. Although he didn’t see Alpine as a serious possibility, he wisely kept the door ajar and will be taking into account its recently-improved on-track trajectory.

Without doubt, he would be the obvious choice and a Sainz/Gasly driver line-up would probably be stronger than the floundering team deserves. But it would also give it the line-up it needs to climb the grid.


Valtteri Bottas, Sauber, F1

The way the driver market shapes up right now, Bottas is the obvious choice for anyone who can’t get Sainz.

He’s by far the most successful free agent, with 10 grand prix wins, with five years of experience at Mercedes and a reputation as one of the best team players through the approach he’s taken during his three years with Sauber.

The Alpine project would likely appeal to Bottas, who would bring the promise of team harmony as well as serious pace.


Jack Doohan, Alpine, F1

Doohan has been on Alpine’s books since early 2022 and has been an integral part of the team as reserve/simulator driver this season.

He’s fast as well, and Alpine is well aware that the cracked chassis he carried in the early stages of the ’23 Formula 2 season cost him a shot at the title.

The 21-year-old has impressed those he’s working with through his work ethic and diligence, as well as with his pace during testing of the 2022 car. This has ensured he’s long been considered a credible option for 2024.


Mick Schumacher, Alpine, WEC

With two seasons at Haas under his belt and a place in Alpine’s World Endurance Championship line-up, Schumacher can’t be disregarded as an option.

He’s done a good job in the Alpine A424 LMDh car, albeit without doing anything sensational. He also brings experience from Mercedes thanks to his role as reserve driver.

It’s difficult to see Schumacher being chosen over the other candidates, but - unless the line-up is sorted by then - he’ll have the chance to make his case when he drives the 2022 car at Paul Ricard in early July.

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