Fernando Alonso will join Aston Martin from 2023, clearing the way for Oscar Piastri to make his full-time debut next season.
Alonso made the shock announcement on Monday, confirming the switch on a multiyear deal starting in 2023.
The two-time champion said he was convinced the team, currently ninth in the standings with 20 points, less than half his own current tally, was capable of success during his contract term.
Watch Every Practice, Qualifying & Race of the 2022 FIA Formula One World Championship™ Live on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
“This Aston Martin team is clearly applying the energy and commitment to win, and it is therefore one of the most exciting teams in Formula 1 today,” he said. “I have known Lawrence [Stroll] and Lance [Stroll] for many years and it is very obvious that they have the ambition and passion to succeed in Formula 1.
“I have watched as the team has systematically attracted great people with winning pedigrees, and I have become aware of the huge commitment to new facilities and resources at Silverstone.
“No-one in Formula 1 today is demonstrating a greater vision and absolute commitment to winning, and that makes it a really exciting opportunity for me.”
Alonso had signalled he wanted to stay with Alpine for at least two more seasons, but the French team was reportedly prepared to offer him only one more year before shifting his to sportscars to avoid losing Aussie junior Piastri to a rival constructor.
The Spaniard, who said he returned to the sport last year to fight for a third championship, said he wasn’t prepared to give up on his long-held goal.
“I still have the hunger and ambition to fight to be at the front, and I want to be part of an organisation that is committed to learn, develop and succeed,” he said. “I intend to win again in this sport and therefore I have to take the opportunities that feel right to me.”
‘CRAZY’: Mad Max stunner rocks Ferrari after ANOTHER ‘incredible’ F1 ‘disaster’
‘LET’S F***ING GO!’ Ricciardo nails insane double overtake before penalty drama strikes
His defection paves the way for Aussie young gun Oscar Piastri to be promoted to his seat alongside Esteban Ocon next year.
Piastri will be the second full-time Australian driver on the grid alongside Daniel Ricciardo.
The team has been agonising over Alonso’s future knowing that the Mark Webber-led Piastri was determined to see the reining F2 champion in a competitive seat as early as possible.
As recently as last week the team was talking publicly about loaning Piastri, most likely to the backmarking Williams team. Webber was meanwhile rumoured to be attempting to engineer a switch to Ricciardo’s McLaren seat despite the senior Aussie being under contract.
Alpine is yet to comment on Alonso’s announcement.
Aston Martin team owner Lawrence Stroll said Alonso’s signature was a vote of confidence in his team’s plans to move forward on the grid.
“I have known and admired Fernando for many years and it has always been clear that he is a committed winner like me,” he said. “I have set out to bring together the best people and develop the right resources and organisation to succeed in this highly competitive sport, and those plans are now taking shape at Silverstone.
“It seemed natural therefore to invite Fernando to be part of the development of a winning team, and we very quickly established in our recent conversations that we have the same ambitions and values, and it was logical and easy to confirm our desire to work together.”
Alonso is replacing four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who announced his end-of-year retirement from the sport last week.
MORE TO COME