Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer revealed that he had found out about Fernando Alonso’s switch to Aston Martin from the press release.
Aston Martin confirmed on Monday that Alonso will join the team from the 2023 season on a multi-year deal. The news became a surprise for Alpine as they had expected to sign a new contract with the Spaniard.
“It [the press release] was the first confirmation I had,” Szafnauer said.
“Obviously, when we’re in the paddock, there’s all sorts of rumors, and I had heard rumors that Aston were interested.
“Once you hear that they’re interested, there’s probably discussions that took place and there’s some other indications that discussions took place, like walking out of the same motorhome at the same time, all that kind of stuff, which I saw.
“But I was confident that, even with the discussions, and there’s nothing wrong with exploring, that we were very close.
“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.”
When asked whether he had talked with Alonso after the announcement, Szafnauer replied: “I haven’t talked to him, since he’s on a boat, I think, in the Greek Isles somewhere.
“I took this morning to address the staff here in Enstone. And the second thing I’m doing is talking to you [the media]. And yesterday, I fielded a bunch of calls from other potential drivers.”
Szafnauer added that Alonso did not want a 1 + 1 deal as he was determined to be in F1 on a long-term basis.
“There were just a couple of minor points that were outstanding as he said that his lawyer would get back to us on. I believed that to be the case.
“And then, before he left, I confirmed with him that we would be signing soon. And he said, ‘Yeah, don’t worry, I haven’t signed with anybody else.’
“We’ll continue this in the next couple of days.
“We offered a one plus one deal. And we discussed with Fernando that, ‘Look, if next year at this time, you’re performing at the same level, of course, we will take you and that could have carried on.’
“But I think he wanted more certainty independent of performance: ‘I want to stay for longer.’ And I think that was the crux of the going one plus one as opposed to two plus one or three plus one or three years.”