Ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand, Alpine F1 Team has confirmed that two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso will stay with the team for the forthcoming 2022 season.
Following a two-year absence from the sport, Alonso rejoined Formula One at the start of the current season, making his return with Alpine. The Spaniard secured his two championship titles with Renault, which was the predecessor of the Alpine outfit before it was rebranded for the 2021 F1 season.
The announcement means that Alonso will continue to partner Esteban Ocon, who signed a new long term contract earlier this year. The Enstone-based squad said that “the dynamic driver pairing offers a balance of youth and experience, with Fernando now ranking second on the sport’s all time race starts list with 322, featuring 32 wins, 97 podiums and two world championship titles with the team in 2005 and 2006.”
The announcement follows the Hungarian Grand Prix which saw Ocon take his maiden F1 victory, helped by Alonso’s race craft as the Spaniard managed to hold up Lewis Hamilton which enabled to Frenchman to build up a significant advantage to the defending champion.
Alpine hopes that Alonso will help the team as it finds itself in the final development and optimization of the chassis and power unit designed to meet the challenge of the 2022 regulations.
Laurent Rossi, CEO, Alpine commented: “We are very pleased to confirm Fernando for next season, partnering with Esteban. For us it is a perfect driver line-up, amongst the strongest on the grid. It works in a hugely complementary way, with both offering raw talent and speed, yet impeccable team spirit that delivered our first win in Hungary.
"Fernando has impressed us all since he returned to the sport at the beginning of this year. His dedication, teamwork and focus to extract the maximum from the team is incredible to be a part of and certainly special to witness. His performance in Hungary was another example of his racing pedigree and reminded everyone how skilled a driver he is. I am convinced we can benefit strongly from Fernando’s insight and experience as we enter the final development and optimization phase of the 2022 chassis and power unit.
"He is just as hungry as we are for success and is putting in every effort to translate it to performance. For now, however, we need to focus on delivering a strong second half of the year, extract the maximum at every race and ensure we finish as high up in the constructors’ standings as possible. This will put us in a golden position for next year and the significant opportunity it brings," Rossi concluded.
Commenting on the contract extension, Alonso said: “I’m very happy to confirm the contract extension with Alpine F1 Team into 2022. I felt at home the moment I returned to this team and have been welcomed back with open arms. It is a pleasure to work again with some of the brightest minds in our sport at Enstone and Viry-Châtillon. It’s been a tricky season for everyone, but we’ve shown progress as a team and the result in Hungary serves as a good example of this progression.
"We’re targeting more positive memories for the rest of this season but also crucially from next year onwards with the new regulation changes coming into Formula 1. I have been a big supporter of the need for a level playing field and change in the sport and the 2022 season will be a great opportunity for that. I am looking forward to the rest of this year and racing alongside Esteban in 2022 for Alpine.”