Alpine confirms Doohan in the mix as Alonso F1 replacement
By Mat Coch
Sunday 11th September, 2022 - 5:18am
Jack Doohan is in the mix for a Formula 1 drive with Alpine as soon as next season.
The Australian is a member of the operation’s academy programme and has enjoyed strong form in the FIA Formula 2 Championship in recent rounds.
Following the unexpected departure of Oscar Piastri from the squad, and Fernando Alonso’s exit, Alpine is on the market for a driver to partner Esteban Ocon in 2022.
“We’re the fourth force of the grid, and our seat is in high demand. That’s good. We will take our time,” said Rossi, Alpine’s CEO, in an interview with Formula1.com.
“We don’t want to rush into the decision. It’s a process Otmar [Szafnauer, Team Principal] is leading, as he knows what is best for the team. We take input from our engineers. The driver is important, but the car is the most important by far.”
Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo have both been linked to the drive given their experience and respective pedigrees, but Alpine boss Laurent Rossi has admitted Doohan is also in the mix.
Of the drives still available for next season, that at Alpine is the most competitive.
Haas is yet to confirm who will steer its second car while Nicholas Latifi looks set to lose his ride with Williams.
The only other unconfirmed seat is Yuki Tsunoda at Scuderia AlphaTauri, though he is tipped to remain with Red Bull instead interested in offloading Gasly in favour of Colton Herta.
“We need someone who helps develop the team, who helps develop the car,” Rossi added of Alpine’s focus.
“We need a seasoned enough, effective enough driver who will score points right away and also take the team up with him. These are criteria we are looking at.
“There are plenty of good ones. [Red Bull Motorsport Adviser] Helmut [Marko] mentioned Pierre – why wouldn’t you? He’s a very good driver, he would be a good candidate for us.
“You mentioned Jack [Doohan], he’s a consideration.
“Despite what we said about the Academy, we believe in him, he’s shown a lot of potential, especially lately – talk about being present at the right moment.
“He’s a great person, he is fast, his father is also a champion I admire and a person I admire. They are great guys. He’s in our plans.
“One way or another we will try and put him in an F1 car at some point. But then again, once bitten, twice shy.”
While in the mix, Doohan is not the front-runner for the drive. Gasly at the very least stands ahead of him, though that relies on Red Bull securing a superlicence for Colton Herta.
The American is not currently eligible, and a dispensation or exemption would need to be made.
That is unlikely given he was denied a year ago when Andretti was making overtures about purchasing Sauber. There is also resistance from within the paddock against circumventing the superlicence points requirement.
With no replacement available, and Red Bull seemingly hesitant in promoting Liam Lawson, Gasly looks set to remain where he is.
“The latest on Pierre is that he has a contract with us,” said Scuderia AlphaTauri Team Principal, Franz Tost.
“Regarding Colton Herta, it’s a decision from the FIA whether he gets the superlicence or not, and I hope that the FIA will take this decision as soon as possible [so] that we know how to build up the team and where to go for next year.
“This will be a decision from Red Bull, which driver they will bring into the team,” he added on the potential of Lawson securing the seat.
“But I think if it’s not Colton Herta, then Pierre Gasly will stay. Nothing will change.”
At Alpine, there is no rush when it comes to deciding on its replacement drier. It has the most competitive race package currently available, leaving it in a position to drive the market for the moment.
“We will see what the landscape is by the end of September,” noted Rossi.
“We will have more clarity on all options. By then, I assume we will make a choice.”