Who will replace Fernando Alonso at the Alpine F1 Team?

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Just as F1's 'silly season' looked to have settled down, the paddock has been rocked by three major revelations, spaced just days apart.

First off was the retirement announcement from four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who called time on his F1 career following a frustrating 18 months with Aston Martin, subsequently freeing up a spot with the Silverstone-based team for the 2023 season.

Fernando Alonso's position with Alpine looked to be secure for at least another year with talks ongoing over a contract extension, but the Spaniard was left frustrated by Alpine's reluctance to offer a long-term deal.

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Aston Martin moved quickly to snap up Alonso on a three-year contract, leaving Alpine turning to reserve driver and reigning F2 champion Oscar Piastri.

The Australian was previously expected to join Williams on a loan from Alpine for the 2023 season, but with Alonso's seat now vacant, Alpine announced that Piastri would be driving for the team alongside Esteban Ocon next season.

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In a gobsmacking twist, Piastri would then take to Twitter to rubbish the press release, stating that he would not be driving for Alpine in 2023 with McLaren now the likely destination for the 21-year-old.

With a seat now vacant at Alpine for the 2023 season and no obvious replacements, RealSport101's Harry Smith is on hand to run through Otmar Szafnauer's options.

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo's position is harder to assess than any other driver on the grid heading into the summer break. It's clear that the Aussie is running on borrowed time at McLaren following a risky move that never really paid off and with Piastri coming through the door, Ricciardo will be the fall guy.

The 32-year-old's talent is undeniable as an eight-time Grand Prix winner and he is said to be at the top of Alpine's list of potential replacements, but the terms of his departure in 2020 have left a sour taste in the mouths of many.

There are certainly a lot of hurdles that need to be jumped before Ricciardo could return to the Enstone team, but if the Aussie's desire to stay in Formula 1 remains, this will be the most likely outcome for Alpine.

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Zhou Guanyu

It was no surprise that Piastri was the favoured Alpine academy driver when he and Zhou were competing in F2, but the Chinese driver does have a compelling case for a step up the grid, having impressed in an FP1 test at the 2021 Austrian Grand Prix.

Zhou has impressed the Alfa Romeo hierarchy in his debut season in F1 and brings significant financial backing with him, making him an attractive proposition for any midfield team.

Fred Vasseur speaks very highly of Zhou and just one week ago it looked like he'd receive a contract extension with the Italian outfit, but Theo Pourchaire's F2 resurgence has complicated his future with Alfa Romeo likely to wait before committing to either party. Could we see an Alpine x Zhou Guanyu reunion this summer?

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Theo Pourchaire

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Just as Alpine saw their golden boy Piastri snatched from their grasp by McLaren, Theo Pourchaire is in a prime position to be snatched away from Alfa Romeo.

This will become a particularly enticing option if Alfa Romeo does opt to extend Zhou Guanyu's contract, given how the teenage Frenchman has clawed his way back into contention for the F2 title.

If Zhou does stay on with Alfa Romeo and Pourchaire closes the 21-point gap to Felipe Drugovich, the proposition of a full-French driver line up in F1's only French team could be too attractive to turn down.

The Outside Bets

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Nyck De Vries

Should Ricciardo prove unattainable and Zhou continues with Alfa Romeo, Nyck De Vries would be an option to consider for 2023. The Dutchman is the reigning Formula E champion and has completed an FP1 test for Mercedes already this season, impressing Toto Wolff in his adaptation to Formula 1 machinery.

De Vries has pedigree on his side, but Alpine will likely have to fight off serious interest from Williams to secure the 27-year-old's services. With Nicholas Latifi on his way out of the sport and Logan Sargeant deemed too inexperienced to be considered this season, De Vries is believed the be Jost Capito's number one target for 2023.

Felipe Drugovich

Alpine junior driver and F2 rookie Jack Doohan was considered for this list as an outside shot, but it is championship leader Felipe Drugovich that is more likely to be considered for the seat left vacant by Fernando Alonso.

The Brazilian is dealing with the simultaneous blessing and curse of not being attached to a driver academy program, meaning he would be a willing and attainable target should Otmar Szafnauer deem his F2 performances this season worthy of a call-up.