Fernando Alonso says he has lost "about 60" points due to mechanical issues across the Formula One season, describing Alpine's problems as "unacceptable" after retiring from the Singapore Grand Prix.

Alpine suffered their first double retirement of the 2022 campaign on Sunday, as suspected power unit issues ended the races of Alonso and team-mate Esteban Ocon.

Alonso was defending sixth place against the advances of Max Verstappen when the problem first struck, forcing him out of the race after 21 laps. Ocon, meanwhile, followed six laps later.

The issue overshadowed a landmark day for Alonso, who made a record 351st grand prix start, and the Spaniard made his frustration known after the race.

"Again eight or 10 points are gone and there were already about 50 points lost this year," Alonso said. "So there are already about 60, which is unacceptable.

"I am very upset because there had been a good performance in this race on my part throughout the weekend.

"Yes, it was the two [Alpine] cars, but one was behind and out of the points, and it was not as serious as in my case for the points.

"This year, this changes everything. If you gave me 60 more points in the standings and reduced those of the rest – because they are points that the others would not have added – my championship would seem much better, even compared to Mercedes."

Alonso has retired from four of his 17 races in 2022, including back-to-back outings at Monza and Singapore. 

The two-time world champion, who is set to replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin next year, sits ninth in the drivers' championship standings, seven points behind team-mate Ocon.

Sergio Perez secured a fourth Formula One triumph and second of the season as he dominated at the Singapore Grand Prix, ending Max Verstappen's five-race winning streak.

Verstappen headed into Sunday's race with a 116-point lead at the top of the championship, aiming for a sixth straight win and 12th victory of 2022 as he edges towards the title.

Yet it was Red Bull team-mate Perez who added to his Monaco Grand Prix crown earlier in the year by winning at a soaked Marina Bay Street Circuit, where safety cars were a regular feature.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished in second and third respectively, with Verstappen's championship lead over the Monegasque driver dropping to 104 points after the Dutchman came in seventh.

After an hour-long delay, Perez raced out the blocks to take the lead from Leclerc, while Lewis Hamilton recovered after being forced off the track in a battle with Sainz.

A plethora of safety cars followed as Zhou Guanyu, Nicholas Latifi, Fernando Alonso, Alex Albon and Esteban Ocon all retired inside the first 28 laps.

Perez continued to clock the fastest laps at the front before Hamilton – frustrated by Sainz in third – slammed into the barriers, with Lando Norris overtaking his fellow Briton.

Yuki Tsunoda's crash saw another safety car deployed before Verstappen swerved off the track to drop down to 12th, though he recovered to overtake Pierre Gasly and Valtteri Bottas.

Perez's domination under the lights continued despite the push of Leclerc as the Red Bull driver claimed victory at the first F1 race in Singapore in three years.

'I TOLD YOU' – HAMILTON BEMOANS MERCEDES TYRE DECISION

Hamilton started the race in third but fell down a place after a first-corner battle with Sainz saw the seven-time world champion edged off the track.

"I told you about these tyres, in future you need to listen to me. No grip," Hamilton declared on the team radio soon after, lamenting Mercedes' late decision to operate on intermediate tyres.

It was not the first time Hamilton – who ended in ninth – has exchanged such words with his team, adding to a frustrating season that could end without a single victory for the first time in his career.

ALONSO DENIED HISTORY

Alpine's Alonso was aiming to surpass Kimi Raikkonen for the most Grand Prix finishes in history as the Spaniard looked to complete his 351st race.

But after stating "engine, engine" on the team radio, Alonso was forced to withdraw before the halfway point in Singapore, leaving him waiting to overtake Raikkonen.

Fernando Alonso will make a record 351st start when he competes in Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix – and his first Formula One boss believes there are many more to come.

Gian Carlo Minardi was managing director of the Minardi team when a young Alonso made his F1 debut in 2001, on the road to becoming a double world champion.

Those titles came in 2005 and 2006 at Renault, whom Alonso joined after only one year with Minardi, and he has missed only two seasons since, sitting out 2019 and 2020 when scratching an itch to compete in other motorsport events.

This weekend he will beat a record previously held by Kimi Raikkonen, who contested 350 grands prix, with Alonso competing for Alpine ahead of an end-of-season switch to Aston Martin.

Minardi told Stats Perform he is confident the 41-year-old Alonso will remain a strong presence on the grid for years to come.

"I recently met him in Monza, and he was very excited," Minardi said. "I would say he doesn't look 41 from an athletic point of view, so I guess he is very fit and keen to prove who he is, and with his new contract he will beat other records not easily reachable for other drivers."

Alonso can also beat the record of the most F1 races finished this weekend, another mark he shares with Raikkonen on 278.

Minardi recalled first getting to know Alonso in 1999, with F1 tests for the youngster soon following in Jerez, where his performance levels were "jaw-dropping".

According to Minardi, Alonso had the ability to win "more than five world titles" and ranks as "one of the drivers who made the difference in the last two generations".

Ahead of another move, as the drive with Aston Martin awaits, Minardi said: "Let's hope that this change – because one of Fernando's weaknesses is that he has always been unlucky when changing the team – is beneficial to him and Aston Martin can equip him with what Aston Martin had at their debut.

"Today, without a reason and despite their Mercedes engine, they struggle to get the results they did some years ago.

"So I wish him the best to watch him entertain us. That is what I told him... I still have fun watching you drive, so keep it up."

The triple-header to follow the resumption of the 2022 Formula One season concludes in Italy this weekend, with Max Verstappen aiming to inflict another stinging result on Ferrari.

Back-to-back wins in Belgium and the Netherlands have seen the Red Bull ace strengthen his grip on the title, with Verstappen remarkably securing 102 out of the last 104 available – only missing out on the fastest lap in France and Hungary.

Perhaps surprisingly, Verstappen's plethora of victories in F1 have not yet included triumph on Ferrari's home soil in Italy – which has seen four different winners in each of the last four races (Lewis Hamilton in 2018, Charles Leclerc in 2019, Pierre Gasly in 2020 and Daniel Ricciardo in 2021).

While the title race looks done and dusted, Ferrari will be determined to secure bragging rights at Monza to provide a boost to a team that has sustained persistent problems this season – most recently with Carlos Sainz's woeful pit stop last weekend.

Ferrari have taken 21 pole positions in the Italian Grand Prix, more than any other team, and have won on 19 occasions – most recently with Leclerc three years ago.

The Monaco-born driver will have fond memories of that triumph and will hope it presents a platform to propel better results in the remainder of the season to at least apply some pressure to Verstappen.

Mercedes mess

Mercedes looked on course for a first victory of the season in the Netherlands last weekend, Lewis Hamilton leading the way with George Russell tucked in behind and Verstappen sitting third before a questionable call.

Russell requested a pit stop and a change for soft tyres, something that was approved and resulted in Verstappen, having also taken softs, finding himself in striking distance of Hamilton and having no problems leapfrogging his former title rival.

Hamilton was understandably furious after the race, with Mercedes fumbling what may well be their best chance of a win in 2022.

Alonso record

In his farewell stint with Alpine ahead of his move to Aston Martin for next season, Fernando Alonso is set to equal Kimi Raikkonen's record of 350 races in Formula One – with nobody else having raced in more.

That record is destined to fall Alonso's way in the future, and he could snatch another off the Finn, as his next race finish would be his 279th in Formula One – putting him ahead of Raikkonen.

Oscar Piastri described Alpine's attempts to announce him in their 2023 driver line-up as "very upsetting" after motorsport's governing body ruled he could sign for McLaren.

Alpine and McLaren were locked in a battle for the services of the 21-year-old, who was a member of Alpine's junior programme and held reserve status with the team this season.

Both teams were in need of a new driver ahead of the 2023 campaign after Fernando Alonso announced he would be leaving Alpine for Aston Martin, while McLaren agreed an early termination of Daniel Ricciardo's deal.

In August, Alpine announced Piastri as a new driver for next year, only for the Australian to deny he had agreed to take a seat with the team.

Friday's ruling by the FIA's contract recognition board (CRB) left Piastri free to partner Lando Norris for McLaren next year, and he has hit out at Alpine's decision to make what he feels was a "false" announcement regarding his future.

"My decision was made well in advance [of Alonso's departure], which made Alpine's announcement probably even more confusing and upsetting because we had told the team that I wasn't going to continue," Piastri told Formula One's website.

"It was quite upsetting as the announcement was false and it also denied me the opportunity to properly say goodbye to everyone.

"I had been with the team for a bit over two and a half years now, and for the rest of the team to find out I was leaving in that manner was very upsetting.

"I still haven't had the opportunity to say goodbye and it's something I want to do, to show my gratitude to all the men and women at Enstone."

Piastri moved to defend his social media intervention following Alpine's announcement, claiming his decision to speak out was a necessary measure. 

"It [the announcement] was done publicly in front of some members of the team who were oblivious to the situation and I didn't want to cause a scene in front of them. It was the biggest moment of my career and probably my life up to now," he said.

"To have that falsely announced was something my management and I felt we had to correct and there was also potential legal implications if we didn't deny the announcement.

"It was not intended to be pointed or in any way anything more than factual. The last line was quite a strong one, but with the CRB ruling, it shows it was purely a fact."

Regarding his decision to seek an exit from Alpine, Piastri pointed to what he described as a "breakdown in trust" between himself and the team's hierarchy.

"To be completely honest, there was a lack of clarity around my future at the team at Alpine," he said. "They publicly stated they wished to continue with Fernando for at least one or two more years. I respect that.

"But after spending the year out, my hopes were firmly set on an Alpine seat and the lack of clarity and, similarly to Fernando, a bit of a strange feeling in negotiations… it didn't feel like it was the right decision for me [to stay].

"The lack of clarity around my future, and ultimately a breakdown in trust, I felt the very attractive offer of McLaren, and the positive dealings with them thus far were all reasons why I felt McLaren was where I was best off for the future."

Fernando Alonso said he is sorry for calling Lewis Hamilton an "idiot" on his team radio after their crash at Spa on Sunday, and will apologise the next time they meet.

Hamilton was sent airborne when he hit former McLaren team-mate Alonso during the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday, suffering damage that ended his own race.

It initially sparked a furious reaction from Alonso, who was heard to exclaim: "What an idiot! We had a mega start, but this guy only knows how to drive and start in first."

Hamilton took full responsibility after the race for the crash, but it brought back memories of his intense rivalry with Alonso when racing alongside one another at McLaren, and the 37-year-old Briton revealed he was irritated by the Spaniard's reaction.

Asked whether he would be speaking to Alonso after hearing of his radio message, Hamilton said: "No. I would have, until I heard what he said.

"I know that's how things feel in the heat of the moment, but it's nice to know how he feels about me."

However, after several days to reflect, Alonso told the official Formula One website he intended to clear the air with Hamilton when they meet ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix, though the Alpine driver also suggested his comments were only scrutinised because of the British media.

"I will hopefully see him today," Alonso said on Thursday. "When we are doing the TV pen I will approach him and say sorry if he understood in that way. I have absolutely no problems with him and I have huge respect for him.

"First of all, it's Lewis – he's a champion, he's a legend of our time. And then when you say something – and I'm sorry to repeat this – against a British driver, there is a huge media involvement after that.

"They've been saying a lot of things to Checo [Sergio Perez], to Carlos [Sainz], to me. If you say something to a Latin driver, everything is a little bit more fun. When you say something to others, it's a little bit more serious.

"But anyway, yes I apologise. I'm not thinking what I said – I don't think that it was much to blame in that moment looking at the replays to be honest, because it was a first-lap incident and we are close together.

"The heat of the moment, the adrenaline of the moment, fighting finally for the top two, top three, made me say those comments that I should not say.

"At the same time, I said after the race that it was a racing incident in my opinion. When you say something on the radio, in that moment you think you are talking to your engineer, so you are preparing the strategy.

"Obviously you should be aware that it should be broadcasted, but it's like if someone makes a hard tackle or something in football. In that moment you say something to your team-mate or whatever, and in that moment it's not broadcasted.

"Before the race or after the race, I said what I was thinking. On the radio, I said something that I was not… I don't think that way."

Lewis Hamilton declared he was "grateful to still be alive" after crashing out of the Belgian Grand Prix following a collision with Fernando Alonso, as he took responsibility for the incident.

Hamilton was sent airborne when he hit former McLaren team-mate Alonso when approaching the Les Combes chicane on Sunday, suffering damage which ended his own race.

The incident sparked a furious reaction from Alonso, who was heard to exclaim: "What an idiot. We had a mega start, but this guy only knows how to drive and start in first."

While Alonso went on to finish fifth for Alpine, Hamilton's retirement ended a strong run of form for the seven-time champion, who had previously posted five consecutive podium finishes in the Mercedes.

Speaking after the race, Hamilton expressed relief at walking away from the incident unharmed, telling Sky Sports: "Looking back, he was in my blind spot, I didn't give him enough space. It is my fault. I could not see him.

"I'm just so sorry to the team and I need to recuperate and get back on the treadmill.

"I remember looking at the ground, it was definitely high up. I'm grateful to still be alive and in shape."

Hamilton and Alonso had an intense rivalry when racing alongside one another with McLaren, and the 37-year-old Briton revealed he was irritated by the Spaniard's reaction to the crash.

Asked whether he would be speaking to Alonso after hearing of his radio message, Hamilton said: "No. I would have, until I heard what he said.

"I know that's how things feel in the heat of the moment, but it's nice to know how he feels about me.

"It's better that it's out in the open how he feels and, like I said, it wasn't intentional, and I take responsibility for it – that's what adults do."

Alonso played down the comments after securing his joint-highest finish of the season.

"I was surprised, and he's now seen the incident and takes responsibility, which is very nice from him," Alonso said.

"It was a lap-one incident and nothing really to say there. The stewards didn't say anything because these things happen, especially at that corner.

"It's a tricky corner – I was frustrated in that moment, for sure. Every time we start on the first or second row, or are fighting in the top two or three, there is always something going on and I was frustrated.

"Luckily, my car was very strong, and I could continue."

Formula One's midseason break delivered drama that the title race so far perhaps had not.

The first half of the campaign had its own intriguing narratives, with Ferrari's frequent collapses and Mercedes' unprecedented struggles, but those strands only served to allow Max Verstappen to build a healthy lead at the top of the standings.

Attention has turned to those in the midfield in recent weeks, though, with Sebastian Vettel's imminent retirement prompting a series of developments that have not yet slowed.

Alpine have been at the heart of the drama, losing Fernando Alonso to Aston Martin in Vettel's place and then failing to secure Oscar Piastri as his replacement.

Piastri instead seems set for McLaren, who have announced Daniel Ricciardo will be leaving the team.

For Alpine then, there will be some relief that focus can now return to the track at the Belgian Grand Prix, with Verstappen set to resume his role at centre stage.

Qualifying key to Red Bull repeat

For those hoping to reel in Verstappen's 80-point lead, they will hope to get more opportunity to attack him than at Spa in 2021, when he started from pole and completed just two laps behind a safety car to claim victory amid a deluge at the circuit in Stavelot.

That result actually continued a recent trend in Belgium, where recovering from a poor qualifying session has proven increasingly tricky.

The past seven winners of the Belgian GP have started from the front row of the grid, with Verstappen among six of those to line up on pole.

Repeating the feat has not been quite so straightforward, however, as Verstappen will be looking to become the first driver to win this race from pole in consecutive entries since Ayrton Senna did so a remarkable four years in a row between 1988 and 1991.

Senna had five Belgian GP wins in total, behind only Michael Schumacher (six). Lewis Hamilton (four) will be bidding to join the Brazilian this weekend.

In-demand Fernando on top form

Alonso will hope his shock move to Aston Martin does not knock his final season with Alpine off course, as the Spaniard had refound form before stunning his team during the break.

The two-time world champion has earned points in each of his past eight races for his best run since another sequence of eight in 2018.

Alonso has not finished in the points in more than eight straight races since 2014, when he put together 15 in a row – the last of them being in Belgium.

But perhaps this could instead be a strong weekend for Alonso's future employers and the man he will replace.

Vettel's best qualifying performance at Aston Martin was fifth at Spa in 2021, finishing fifth on race day, too. Only in Azerbaijan last year (second) has he enjoyed a better result with the team.

Alpine expected Fernando Alonso to agree a new contract with the team right up until the moment his move to Aston Martin was announced, Otmar Szafnauer has revealed.

And Alpine team principal Szafnauer's attempts to subsequently get in touch with Alonso have proved unsuccessful.

Alonso has driven for Alpine since their rebrand ahead of the 2021 season, returning to Formula One after two seasons away.

The Spaniard had won world championships with Renault – the team under their previous name – back in 2005 and 2006.

Now a midfield runner, Alonso has secured only a single podium in his second stint with the French team, but his switch to Aston Martin on Monday came as somewhat of a surprise – not least to Alpine.

Alonso will replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel in 2023, with his move the first of the mid-season break after Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.

As of the end of that race, in which Alonso finished eighth, Szafnauer thought his superstar driver was returning next year.

"[The Aston Martin statement] was the first confirmation I had," the Alpine chief told Motorsport.com.

"Obviously, when we're in the paddock, there's all sorts of rumours, and I had heard rumours that Aston were interested.

"Once you hear that they're interested, there's probably discussions that took place, and there's some other indications that discussions took place, like walking out of the same motorhome at the same time, all that kind of stuff, which I saw.

"But I was confident that, even with the discussions, and there's nothing wrong with exploring, we were very close.

"So, yes, the first confirmation I had was the press release. I did ask the question [to Alonso]. And I was told: 'No, no, I haven't signed anything.' So, I was a bit surprised."

Asked if he had since spoken to Alonso, Szafnauer replied: "I haven't talked to him, since he's on a boat, I think, in the Greek Isles somewhere.

"I took this morning to address the staff. And the second thing I'm doing is talking to you. And yesterday, I fielded a bunch of calls from other potential drivers."

One obvious option is Oscar Piastri, the Alpine reserve driver who had appeared set for a year at Williams when Alonso was in line for a new contract.

However, Szafnauer faces issues on that front, too, amid claims Piastri has agreed to race instead for McLaren – something Alpine have not agreed to.

"I'm not privy to whatever pre-arrangements he has with McLaren, if any at all," Szafnauer said, stating Alpine have "a legal contract" with Piastri for 2023.

He added: "Oscar and his camp are considering their options, whatever that means."

The first domino in the Formula One driver market has fallen with Aston Martin's confirmation that Fernando Alonso will be driving for the team in 2023.

Sebastian Vettel's retirement announcement ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix was always going to lead to movement on the grid but Alonso's move from Alpine is a significant statement of intent from the Silverstone-based team.

Alpine are currently vying for the best of the rest tag in 2022, alongside McLaren, while it has been a year to forget so far for Aston Martin – but they still boast one of the most recognisable brands on the grid and Alonso is a stellar acquisition.

There will be further movement, with a number of teams yet to confirm their full driver line-up for the 2023 season – with Alpine, Haas, Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri having one spot open, while Williams have not confirmed either driver.

That leaves six seats up for grabs as it stands, with some of the outcomes easier to analyse than others – Alonso's departure from Alpine solves their headache as it leaves a slot open for reserve driver Oscar Piastri.

The Australian was already heavily tipped to take a seat on the grid for 2023 but, with Esteban Ocon and Alonso at Alpine, just where that spot would open was up for debate, with a Williams move touted, but it should now be a fairly easy decision.

For Williams, it could result in the continuation of their partnership with Mercedes. With Alex Albon expected to retain his seat, a replacement for Nicolas Latifi is on the agenda and the leading option may now be Nyck de Vries.

Toto Wolff had already conceded that De Vries, who is on their young driver programme, could be let go in order for him to open avenues in F1, but a seat becoming available at Williams would be perfect for all parties – potentially lining-up De Vries as Lewis Hamilton's long-term successor.

Another option for Williams is Jamie Chadwick, who has dominated the W series and has her eyes set on a seat in F1, though she has expressed doubt as to whether women can cope with the physical demands of the series.

Seats at Haas, Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri are harder to assess but Mick Schumacher could play a pivotal role for the trio. Yet to be confirmed by Haas for 2023, the young Ferrari driver could make a sidewards move to continue his F1 career.

Given AlphaTauri's relationship with Red Bull, Alfa Romeo seems the more likely option for Schumacher if he was to depart Haas and an opportunity to drive alongside Valtteri Bottas could aid his development – though Alfa Romeo have a young talent of their own waiting in the wings in the form of Theo Pourchaire.

Felipe Drugovich, the runaway leader in F2 this season, and American Logan Sargeant are alternative options within the young driver ranks, while both have additional appeal due to their respective nationalities, Brazil and the United States, both of which are areas of growth for F1.

The break period in the F1 season is usually the time where teams line everything up for the next year, so the next few weeks before the season resumes in Belgium are likely to be extremely busy – and there could be some surprises in store.

Fernando Alonso has agreed a multi-year deal to replace Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin from the 2023 Formula One season.

Four-time F1 world champion Vettel announced last week he is retiring at the end of the current campaign.

Aston Martin have moved quickly to bring in a replacement, with Alpine driver Alonso – himself a two-time world champion – set to join next year.

"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 One today," Alonso said.

"I have known Lawrence and Lance [Stroll] for many years and it is very obvious that they have the ambition and passion to succeed in Formula One.

"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.

"No one in Formula One today is demonstrating a greater vision and absolute commitment to winning, and that makes it a really exciting opportunity for me."

Alonso returned to F1 with Alpine in 2021 after a two-year sabbatical and finished 10th last season, which is also the position he finds himself in midway through 2022.

The Spaniard made his F1 debut in 2001 and won his two world titles in back-to-back years in 2005 and 2006.

Now at the age of 41, Alonso is still as motivated as ever as he prepares to embark on another new chapter with Aston Martin.

"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.

"We all appreciate that there is much to be done to get to the front, and that we must apply all our energies in working together to find performance.

"The passion and desire to perform that I have witnessed convince me to maintain my enjoyment and commitment to the sport.

"I intend to win again in this sport and therefore I have to take the opportunities that feel right to me."

Alonso finished eighth at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday to secure his eighth consecutive points finish.

He brings a wealth of experience to Aston Martin, where he will link up with Lance Stroll, the son of executive chairman Lawrence.

"I have known and admired Fernando for many years and it has always been clear that he is a committed winner like me," Lawrence Stroll 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.

"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. 

"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."

Lewis Hamilton said he has "lost an ally" as he paid tribute to Sebastian Vettel, who will retire at the end of the Formula One season.

Vettel, now racing for Aston Martin, confirmed on Thursday that he would be calling time on his illustrious career.

The German is a four-time world champion, winning all of those titles in consecutive seasons between 2010 and 2013.

That success proceeded Hamilton's dominance of F1, with the Briton winning six of his seven world titles from 2014 onwards.

Two years Vettel's senior, Hamilton is sad to see the 35-year-old call it a day.

"My first feeling is that it is sad he is stopping," Hamilton told reporters ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

"The journey I have experienced in this sport, often feeling relatively lonely, Seb has been one of the few people that has made it not feel that way. He stood by me through a lot of things.

"We talk about legends, I don't really like that title but he is one of the greatest people we have seen in this sport and we need more people like him. I am sad because I have lost an ally."

Only Hamilton (103) and F1 great Michael Schumacher (91) have won more races in the format than Vettel (53).

Hamilton also believes Vettel has used his platform for good, saying: "There's no lack of bravery in Sebastian. He has been one of the very, very few drivers in racing history that has stood for much more than himself.

"He's used his voice in things that I've fought for and stood by me, he's taken the knee, he's gone on his own journey and stood on the grid and fought for things that he believed in, and for the greater good.

"I think he's just a really beautiful human being and I'm really grateful to have been here in a time that he was racing.

"Watching his World Championships was impressive. I'm sad to have arrived today and seen the news, but I know whatever he goes and does beyond this is going to be even better."

Hamilton's sentiment was echoed by Fernando Alonso, who competed closely with Vettel during the latter's dominant streak.

The Spaniard said: "Not the news that I want. There were some rumours last year that maybe he stops, but this year it came true.

"An amazing driver, a legend of our sport. I spent so much time and battles with him over my career with him. So I will miss him, and not only as a driver, I think he has very strong values and is a very good human being. I wish him the best and we will miss him."

Fernando Alonso has "options" on the Formula One grid but his "priority" is to remain with Alpine.

The veteran driver's contract with the team is due to expire at the end of the season and speculation surrounding his future has been rife, with Alpine having Oscar Piastri ready to step up.

Piastri may be loaned to Williams for the 2023 season if Alonso renews with Alpine.

While the Spaniard would prefer to remain with his current team, he could not rule out a move elsewhere.

"From the beginning of the summer break, it will be the point I need to sit down and conclude something. The summer break starts on Monday," he said ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

"All the teams are an option as long as they don’t have two drivers signed. My priority is to be with Alpine.

"We've been working and developing this project together for two years now. We are more and more competitive.

"Probably my wish is to stay. But we didn’t sit down completely and move forward with things. So still everything is ongoing."

Alonso previously departed F1 to pursue other racing opportunities, including at Le Mans and in Indycar, but added that such an offer for 2023 would not tempt him.

"I think I am fresh here [in F1], very motivated. I'm looking forward so much into next year, what the second year of these rules will bring," he explained.

"We race in Las Vegas, we race maybe in South Africa. All these things, they are very appealing. 

"I feel very fast this year, last year was a struggle a little bit. But this year I feel at my 100 per cent. 

"Now even thinking about sportscars or IndyCar it’s like 'not now'. My head is completely 'remove this' and stay focused on F1."

Lewis Hamilton is confident he will be in the mix for a first win of the season at Sunday's French Grand Prix, claiming Mercedes' struggles will make their next victory all the more satisfying.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton sits sixth in the 2022 drivers' standings, having failed to post a race win since losing the 2021 title to Max Verstappen in contentious circumstances.

The Mercedes star has been in improved form of late, however, recording three successive podiums after a run of seven outings without a top-three finish.

Having been badly affected by issues with the Silver Arrows' W13 car earlier this season, the 37-year-old is hopeful of a landmark success at Le Castellet on Sunday, in what will be his 300th Formula One race.

Asked if he had a realistic chance of victory in France, Hamilton said: "I hope so, that's what we're all working towards.

"I'm working towards getting that win so I do believe at some stage we will be able to compete with these guys, whether it's this weekend or in five races' time. The journey is the important part.

"I think we started off not where we wanted to be. We've made progress, and we've started to hit a patch of consistency. I'm really proud of the process. We've sharpened our tools in other areas, so when we do get back to where we deserve to be, I think we'll appreciate it that much more."

Hamilton has named Fernando Alonso as the toughest opponent of his career to date, as he professed his hope the 40-year-old, who has put together a run of six successive top-10 finishes with Alpine, will continue in Formula One for years to come.

"I think it's difficult to say who has necessarily been the strongest competitor because every time you're with someone, you're in a different place in your life," Hamilton said.

"I remember the task of being alongside Fernando when I was 22. I was so young mentally and, of course, OK in terms of skill, but it's a lot of pressure to go up against a great like Fernando.

"I would say on pure pace, Fernando [is the toughest]. We had some good battles.

"I wish we could have more. Hopefully he will continue to race, so hopefully we'll have more in the future."

Fernando Alonso believes Formula One's growing popularity has led to a dwindling appreciation of drivers from past eras, claiming many new fans "don't know much" about the sport.

Having raced in other categories at the Dakar Rally and the Indianapolis 500, the two-time F1 champion made a stellar return to the series in 2021, after relinquishing his seat with McLaren at the end of the 2018 season.

The 40-year-old has showed no signs of slowing down in literal and figurative terms, currently sitting 10th in the drivers' standings in a middling Alpine and matching team-mate Esteban Ocon for pace.

Alonso believes that despite his own quality as a racer, he and other drivers have faced negative consequences from F1's Netflix-fuelled influx of new fans.

"I think the perception from the outside or the feeling towards me, has changed, from time to time," he told The Race. "And in 2007 [the year after his second F1 title], maybe people had a perception of what I was as a driver or as a person."

He suggested that changed when he had a five-season spell at Ferrari from 2010 to 2014.

"Now I think that the fans that we have now, there are new fans and in a way – and I don't want to lack respect to them – but they don't know much about Formula 1," said Alonso.

"They just are more like a football kind of fan, where they just follow the results, whoever is winning does the best. And whoever is last is not Formula 1 level.

"They don't understand much about car performance and the package that you need. So you are on more of a rollercoaster kind of feeling, of perception, of what the people feel about you."

Alonso has been unfortunate not to pick up a bigger haul of points in recent outings, with a double stop in Austria arguably costing him a second straight top-five finish.

He did, however, concede his front-row position in the wet in Canada was significant in the context of his return and changing minds.

"It meant a lot because when you decide to come back, you need to put away a few things in life – family, friends again – and have full dedication for the job you do, travelling, the physical aspect, the mental aspect, everything and the pressure that you feel in your shoulders," he said.

"Because you are Fernando Alonso, and everyone will look at you if you are doing well."

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