Alpine could use its forthcoming LMDh program to give young drivers a race seat while waiting for a Formula 1 opportunity in future.
Oscar Piastri had to spend this season as the team’s reserve driver despite winning three junior championships in a row, while Zhou Guanyu left to join Alfa Romeo due to a lack of opportunities at Alpine. With an LMDh program set to enter the World Endurance Championship in 2024, replacing the Alpine A480 prototype (pictured above) that was originally designed for the non-hybrid LMP1 category, the French brand’s CEO Laurent Rossi says a seat in WEC could be one that Alpine uses for young drivers in future years.
“There are plenty of options for them to be in a waiting seat,” Rossi said. “Reserve, of course, is one; we are going to have LMDh soon available. So we feel like we can manage this pipeline of drivers a bit better than we’ve done in the very recent past where you have had a flurry of good talent and not enough seats. So that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Rossi had also suggested the Alpine LMDh program was something that had been discussed with Fernando Alonso as an option for the Spaniard in future, prior to Alonso’s decision to leave the team for Aston Martin next season. Even before announcing where he would race in 2023, Alonso had already removed himself from such a scenario as he says he wants his full focus to be on F1 and not the next stage of his career.
“Not in the short term,” Alonso said of a potential return to the WEC, where he raced previously with Toyota. “But I think I am fresh here, very motivated. I’m looking forward so much into next year, what the second year of these rules will bring. We race in Las Vegas, we race maybe in South Africa. All these things, they are very appealing.
“I feel very fast this year. Last year was a struggle a little bit. But this year I feel at my 100 percent. Now even thinking about sports cars or IndyCar, it’s like ‘not now.’ My head is completely ‘remove this’ and stay focused on F1.”