Sebastian Vettel’s retirement from Aston Martin has left a sizeable void on next year’s grid — a lucrative seat at one of Formula One’s most ambitious teams.
With the grid’s biggest names — Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc — locked down for the foreseeable at their present teams, the top running options are limited. But there are some obvious candidates for team owner Lawrence Stroll, including a former world champion.
The best option
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso, who lost out to Vettel at title deciders in 2010 and 2012, is in his contract year with Alpine. He is yet to sign a renewal and instantly looks like the best option available to Stroll.
Alonso’s on-track pedigree is massive. Many consider the Spaniard to be the most complete driver on the grid and he is arguably a better talent than Vettel. He is probably one of F1’s most unfulfilled talents and has not won a race since 2013. His downward career spiral is caused by perhaps the biggest red flag around Alonso: his awful decision-making and the reputation he forged for being a malignant or toxic presence behind the scenes.
Alonso appears to have mellowed since returning from his sabbatical and he would still be a massive signing for Aston Martin. Stroll went after Vettel because he matched Aston Martin’s big ambitions. The Canadian billionaire has invested big money in building new state-of-the-art facilities at the team’s Silverstone headquarters. There can be no doubting how serious he is about turning Aston Martin into a title-winning outfit, but how realistic a proposition this is remains an open question.
The big question for Alonso would be whether his best chance at ever running at the front again is with Renault’s factory outfit at Alpine or Mercedes customer team Aston Martin. Alpine is in a better spot right now but the French manufacturer has continually failed to match the output of F1’s front-running teams since returning to the grid in 2016.
For Alpine, this would solve the headache of what to do with hugely promising youngster Oscar Piastri, who has already spent one year on the sidelines since winning the 2021 Formula Two title. Failing to find a place for him on the grid next year could risk the investment Alpine has put into Piastri’s career to date.
Complicated, but good, options
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