The driver market exploded into life at the start of F1’s summer break when Aston Martin announced Alonso as Sebastian Vettel’s replacement for 2023 a day after the Hungarian Grand Prix. 

That set off a chain of dramatic moves that culminated in McLaren parting ways with Daniel Ricciardo to favour an expected swoop for Oscar Piastri and left Alpine needing to find a replacement for Alonso. 

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Reports during the break speculated that Alonso’s manager, Briatore, had played a key role in Alonso’s move in a joint plan with Mark Webber, who looks after Piastri’s affairs. 

Asked if Briatore and Webber had been involved, Alonso said: “No not at all, not at all. I read that in the first days and honestly it was quite sad and annoying to read that conspiracy. I made this decision, and I explained why. 

“For some months I had been chatting to the team about extending the contract but nothing officially arrived and nothing officially happened. Aston called me after Sebastian retired. If Sebastian had continued this probably would not have happened, the move to Aston.

“They were very clear and very easy decisions from my side and what happened after, and what is happening with Oscar, it is completely not my thing. Oscar is an incredible talent for any team and for Alpine and I have been working for him for two years and I wish him the best and also the best for Alpine. 

“It’s going to be my team for this year but also my team always on my heart, because we achieved things which were unthinkable when we started the relationship. I went back to the sport also thanks to Alpine, so I only wish the best for them. 

“Those comments that I read, they were sad to read. I’ve been doing my thing always. Flavio had been coming to some races but as you may know, with all the deals he has with Stefano and F1 and paddock club, but not related to me.” 

Friction between Alonso and Szafnauer? 

Alonso’s switch took many in the paddock by surprise, including Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer, who revealed he had only learned of the two-time world champion’s impending departure when he read Aston Martin’s press release announcing the move. 

Asked at what point he informed Alpine of his decision to leave, Alonso responded: “I’m happy with this question. It’s true, Otmar probably didn’t know anything but I informed Laurent Rossi, president Luca de Meo, my mechanics and my engineers before any announcement. 

“All the people that were involved in the negotiations were informed before any announcement from Aston Martin. Otmar was not involved in the negotiations and yes, probably, Laurent and Luca didn’t call him before the announcement and he was surprised by that. 

“But all the people that I’d been negotiating with, they were informed before any announcement about my move to Aston. And with my mechanics and my engineers, I took my time to inform them before any announcement.”

Alonso said his first contact with Aston Martin came following Vettel’s retirement announcement, revealing that he only signed the contract on the Monday after Hungary. 

“They started calling some drivers that they were interested in and I was one of those and still available, and, yes, we started talking on that weekend briefly about the conditions I was expecting and the conditions they were expecting of me as well,” he explained. 

“We met quite quickly on our expectations and fulfilled all our wishes and on Monday morning we signed and we decided to announce quite quickly before any leak. And, yes, that was more or less the timeline of everything."