F1 stars ‘started talks before Lewis Hamilton deal’ as Mercedes scramble for options | F1 | Sport

And Ocon was immediately perceived to be a prime candidate. The Frenchman served as a reserve driver for Toto Wolff in 2019, and reportedly came close to replacing Valtteri Bottas the following year but Mercedes opted to persist with the Finn.

Crucially, Ocon is also out of contract at the end of the season. Gasly meanwhile, has an F1 Grand Prix win to his name and has also been touted as a future world championship contender, and drove for Red Bull’s sister team AlphaTauri before replacing Fernando Alonso at Alpine.

But Famin has claimed that discussions with both men on their futures took place prior to Hamilton’s announcement. “We have not waited for Hamilton going to Ferrari to talk to our drivers,” he said. 

“We are talking permanently to our drivers. I’m very happy with the relationship with have with them – with the communication we have with them, and the job they are doing. And we regularly talk to them. We talked before Hamilton and after.”

Gasly himself seemingly confirmed Famin’s theory when asked if the team had contacted him to plan talks. “They did already,” he insisted. “It’s obviously an ongoing process, and we have conversations.”

The French outfit are unlikely to leave anything to chance after enduring a humiliating saga last year. Halfway through the 2022 season, Alonso caught then-team principal Otmar Szafnauer off guard by declaring he was going to Aston Martin.

Szafnauer appeared to act swiftly by announcing reserve driver Oscar Piastri would duly take over from Alonso. However, the Australian then publicly denied he would be staying at Alpine, and after a prolonged legal wrangling was clear to join McLaren for his rookie campaign.

Szafanauer remained in his role, but the American then left in 2023 before the campaign was out. Famin, who was previously serving as head of engine development at the team, was quickly installed as his replacement. 

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