Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi believes Fernando Alonso is still the best driver in the world, even with the Spaniard set to leave the team at the end of the season.
The 41-year-old has opted to leave the French outfit in favour of a move to Aston Martin, suggesting that the British-based team’s eagerness to sign him made him realise how little love he had been receiving from Alpine.
Rossi admits maybe he and the team could have done more to make Alonso feel appreciated, but made it clear his opinion of the Spaniard hasn’t changed despite his decision to try his luck elsewhere.
“It’s what he feels and I’m not the one to judge that,” Rossi told MARCA. “It’s often said that people remember you by the way you make them feel.
“If he feels that way, it’s possible that we are responsible.
“We probably didn’t do enough. We may be guilty in that we underestimated the needs that a two-time World Champion has in terms of attention.
“Maybe we thought he didn’t need to hear that he was the best, because we all know it, and he knows it. Maybe we didn’t do it enough.
“I personally believe that he’s one of the best, if not the best driver in the world right now. Even if he is going to leave, I still believe it and I value him.
“In terms of Formula 1 history, if things had gone a little differently for him, he would have multiple titles. But maybe that affection came in the form of asking for a longer contract and, to be honest, we couldn’t do that.
Reasons behind Alonso departure
Alonso will replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin, while Alpine are expected to announce the signing of Pierre Gasly after Oscar Piastri, the team’s first choice to replace the Spaniard, decided to leave for McLaren.
Rossi explained that Alpine‘s decision not to bring Alonso back was done with an eye on the future.
“Fernando may not have long left, although I could be wrong because he is exceptional,” said Rossi. “But it’s too big a gamble for a whole organisation. We discussed it a lot with Otmar [Szafnauer], who was also very important in making the decision.
“Because of the Academy and the investments we made in that part of Alpine‘s future, it was not convenient to offer him [Alonso] more than two years, see how Oscar [Piastri] performed during those two years and then evaluate. Maybe he wanted three years.
“To be honest with you, it’s very likely that in two years he will be performing like he is now, but we couldn’t do that.
“Having said that, we are all very sad to see him go, very sad. I have said it to him and I’ll repeat it. Fernando is the greatest champion we have ever had at Renault. And it is very sad to lose the best.”
Alpine’s reliability problems
Alonso believes he’s lost 60-70 points due to poor reliability this season, and Rossi admits the team still have quite a bit of work to do if they want to compete for the World Championship.
“To be clear, we all believe he [Alonso] has the potential to surely be World Champion if he had a capable car,” said Rossi.
“But the car isn’t, yet. Fernando is clearly much better than the car.
“We’ve lost Fernando, but he hasn’t really been able to show his full ability, so it doesn’t change our situation much.
“I’m sad he’s leaving but it would be worse if he left in three years’ time, when we have the car to win and only he can take it to the championship.”