Renault-owned Alpine began a private test in Hungary on Tuesday with Dutch driver Nyck de Vries and Australian Jack Doohan in the spotlight as the Formula One team weighs options for next season. Alpine did not confirm details of the test or who drove last year’s car at the Hungaroring circuit near Budapest.
The official Formula 1 website says de Vries, Doohan and Italian Antonio Giovinazzi are due to spend some time behind the wheel. Double world champion Fernando Alonso will leave for Aston Martin at the end of the year, leaving the most desirable vacancy on the grid. Alpine is fourth overall with six races to go.
The team had wanted to put Australian reserve Oscar Piastri in the race seat next year, but he signed for McLaren instead. Frenchman Pierre Gasly became the favorite then, but is under contract for 2023 with Red Bull-owned AlphaTauri, who have said they would be ready to release him if they can find an exciting replacement.
US IndyCar driver Colton Herta was the main target but does not have a super-license and Formula One’s governing FIA is not prepared to make an exception despite the absence of US drivers in the sport. De Vries, who impressed by finishing ninth on his race debut with Williams as a replacement for Alex Albon in Italy this month after the Thai developed appendicitis, could be the answer for Alpine and AlphaTauri.
The 27-year-old told Dutch television over the weekend that he recently met Red Bull motorsport chief Helmut Marko in Austria for talks. “I have been in talks with Williams for a long time… I have been in contact with Alpine since July and will be testing for them in Budapest next week,” he said.
“Anywhere I can get a permanent seat, I would be very happy.” De Vries, the 2021 Formula E champion, and Red Bull Formula 1 world champion and runaway leader Max Verstappen are friends and compatriots.
This fueled speculation that de Vries could end up at AlphaTauri, allowing Gasly to join Alpine. Academy rider Doohan, the son of motorcycling great Mick, is still just 19 and looks more like a possible reserve for Alpine unless they strike a deal with Williams to replace Canadian Nicholas Latifi.
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