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F1’s Alpine Set Out Season Goals and Bring on Zinedine Zidane as Surprise Signing

Last Updated: February 17, 2023, 09:05 IST

Zinedine Zidane at the Alpine Formula One Car launch (Reuters)

Zinedine Zidane was introduced as Alpine’s global brand ambassador at the launch of their A523 car ahead of the new Formula One season

Renault-owned Alpine set out their goals for the Formula One season on Thursday before unveiling French soccer great Zinedine Zidane as a surprise signing.

The World Cup winner and former Real Madrid coach was introduced at the launch of the new A523 car as a global ambassador for the brand and to help promote equal opportunities.

“I am very happy to be here today and happy to be part of the Alpine team,” Zidane told the surprised audience in a former newspaper printing site in London’s Docklands.

French driver Pierre Gasly, another new signing as team mate to established compatriot Esteban Ocon, races with the number 10 and had to admit he was only the best non-retired number 10 in the building.

“He’s been one of my idols since I was a kid,” he told reporters. “I started playing football at five and just wanted to wear number 10, his jersey every time I was going to practice and training.

“Just to see him as an ambassador today and go to spend some time backstage before the event, I just attacked him with millions of questions about his career.”

Britain’s double Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams was also appointed as a mentor to coach young drivers and raise awareness of diversity.

Ocon and Gasly, who replaces departed double world champion Fernando Alonso, were given a clear target — defending fourth place overall as a bare minimum and closing the huge gap to champions Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.

F1's Alpine Set Out Season Goals and Bring on Zinedine Zidane as Surprise Signing
Alpine’s team principal Otmar Szafnauer, drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, Renault CEO Luca de Meo, Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi and former footballer Zinedine Zidane (Reuters)


Alpine managed to secure fourth overall in 2022 after a season-long battle with McLaren, but the 342-point gap between them and third-placed Mercedes left no illusions.

“The gap to third was big and we’ve got to close that gap,” said team principal Otmar Szafnauer.

“In order to so we must develop at a higher rate than any other Formula One team out there…and that’s what we’re looking to do.”

Renault chief executive Luca de Meo said the French carmaker’s commitment was long-term and he was optimistic about a trajectory that has seen the team move from fifth in 2021 to fourth in 2022.

“Maybe Esteban and Pierre can give us a couple of podiums,” he added.

Both drivers are race winners and had a first taste of the car in a private 100km shakedown run at Silverstone last Monday.

Ocon is in his fourth year at the team while Gasly has joined from Red Bull-owned AlphaTauri.

Australian Jack Doohan, son of motorcycle great Mick, will be the team’s official reserve driver while also racing in Formula Two.

The car, an evolution from its predecessor, will run in a full pink livery for the first three races in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Australia before switching back to Alpine’s blue colours.

The 23-race season starts at the Sakhir circuit on March 5, with pre-season testing there next week.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)

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