Esteban Ocon has named Mick Schumacher as his preferred replacement for Fernando Alonso at Alpine, saying he would be "very happy" to team up with his "good friend". It was recently announced that Alonso will switch to Aston Martin for the 2023 campaign, with Alpine initially declaring F2 champion Oscar Piastri as his replacement. However, Piastri promptly issued a social media denial, with RacingNews365.com subsequently revealing that he had signed a deal to take Daniel Ricciardo's seat at McLaren. Next week, the FIA's Contract Recognition Board will sit to make a ruling over Piastri's contractual situation. If the case goes in McLaren's favour, or Alpine win and still opt to look elsewhere for Ocon's new teammate, the Frenchman has made it clear that Haas' Mick Schumacher would be his first choice. "I don't know what the team will decide. I have no words really to comment on that," began Ocon, speaking to media including RacingNews365.com . "But I said to the bosses that my preference would be Mick Schumacher. If he doesn't find a solution, I'm very happy to team up with him – he's a good friend of mine. "But again, I have no words on what the decision will be. This is only my opinion. I thought it was quite nice just to tell what I would like, but that's not going to be the [main] factor." He added: "I'm sure whoever comes will also be strong for the team, and the team will do the best decision possible."
Is Gasly a contender for the Alpine seat?
Meanwhile, RacingNews365.com understands from sources in the paddock that Alpine have approached Red Bull over Pierre Gasly's availability. Gasly has been part of the Red Bull family since making his F1 debut with Toro Rosso back in 2017, and is preparing for his 100th Grand Prix start in Belgium on Sunday. After a short-lived spell at the senior Red Bull team in 2019, Gasly has rebuilt his career at the renamed AlphaTauri squad, taking a maiden win and a pair of podiums. As it stands, Gasly has a contract in place to drive for AlphaTauri next season, though he did not immediately deny the talk of a possible Alpine switch. "I don't really have anything to comment for now. I'm focused on doing the best job I can this weekend," said Gasly, when asked by RacingNews365.com if he has been approached by Alpine. "I've got a contract, and from everything that I know, and as everybody knows, they've announced me as driving for AlphaTauri next year." Gasly and Ocon are known to have experienced a strained relationship as they climbed the karting ranks together. But pushed on the prospect of teaming up with Gasly in an all-French F1 line-up, Ocon offered some hope, saying: "[The relationship is] going well; we have respect for each other. I think that's the important [thing]."