Alonso is a veteran with the Alpine team. In total, he drove with the team for eight years, the absolute highlight being the championship titles in 2005 and 2006, then still under the Renault name. After a short break from the sport, Alonso has been driving for Alpine again since last year, but the adventure proved to be short-lived: next year he will take over Sebastian Vettel' s seat at Aston Martin.
So a big name leaving Alpine, Rossi acknowledges. "Fernando is not just any driver. He is one of our legends, in fact he is the most legendary Renault/Alpine driver, he has won two titles with us. That is our claim to fame. So it was hard for us not to keep him."
From Rossi, there is no bitterness towards Alonso. He acknowledges that the Spaniard wanted something Alpine could not offer him: a long-term contract. That Alonso eventually chose to sign with a team that could offer him that, according to Rossi, is only logical.
Alonso is currently ninth in the championship, just behind teammate Esteban Ocon. Among constructors, Alpine is doing considerably better than Aston Martin: Alpine is fourth, Aston Martin second last. Rossi therefore secretly hopes that, from a sporting point of view, it was the wrong choice for Alonso to leave. "That means we are still better than Aston," he said.